Two that joyfully extend the era of powerful naturally aspirated engines: the Corvette with a thick 6.2-liter V8, the Porsche with an insane 9,000 rpm boxer! The 911 GT3 remains a second killer on the course, even as a touring, while the mid-engine Corvette, which is now available in Europe, relies on Gran Turismo.
The record presented by Columbia Records in 1948 measures twelve inches, weighs around 120 grams and can be spun 33-1/3 times per minute. Compared to lossless digital formats, there are obvious logistical disadvantages and an objectively inferior sound quality. However, fans of the vinyl disc speak of a warmer and livelier sound – so the giant discs are not just about retro and coolness.
The same applies to petrol engines that work without supercharging or exhaust gas recycling. First of all, as sound carriers, they feel better than OPF, which filter not only Otto particles but also sounds. On the plus side, however, there is not only the answer to a question of listening taste, because vacuum cleaners are lighter, usually need less cooling and – unlike turbo engines – always react immediately to accelerator pedal commands.
And the disadvantages? Well, mainly less power with the same displacement, which is a solvable problem. The Corvette C8 Stingray, which is now officially available in Europe, chooses the American route and simply lets eight pistons rage in a huge ballistic center: 6,162 cm3 in a central position directly behind the driver. The new V8 is called the LT2 and sticks to an overhead camshaft and two-valve technology; the dry sump lubrication now works with three extraction levels. Porsche uses seven of them, which suits the radical approach, because in the rear of the 911 GT3 Touring sits a four-liter motor sports boxer with variable valve timing and a maximum crankshaft speed of 9,000 rpm. The differences to the racing version? Only the exhaust system and plug connections on the wiring harnesses, which help to be able to swap the six-cylinder in the box faster.
911: 101,450 euros more expensive
So of course it's true that the two don't go together perfectly for a comparison test. In terms of performance, at least the Corvette with 482 hp is pretty close to the 510 of the Porsche. However, Stingray stands for the basic version of the C8, while GT3 stands for the upper end of the 911 expansion stages. This is also reflected in the prices including all performance extras. The Corvette costs 92,500 euros and the Touring 193,950 euros. In the case of the 911, for example, this includes the carbon-ceramic brake discs for 9,186 euros, which are currently not in the configurator - not available. But it becomes problematic even before that, because demand for the GT3 reliably exceeds supply.
The price structure of our naturally aspirated engine party would have fanned out as planned.Would have, would have, bicycle chain: only the star DJs from Baden-Württemberg and Kentucky agreed and put on their explosive mechanical beats. Unplugged and without autotune, both even do without exhaust bangs.
Before we put on the tonearm, let's look at the Corvette. With the Z51 package, which is standard in Europe, it has Michelin Pilot Sport 4S with emergency running properties, Brembo brakes plus ventilation ducts and an active limited-slip differential with a shorter translation. It continues with performance chassis and exhaust, more extensive engine cooling and the rear spoiler plus front splitter.
Now we flop into the Competition seat, which fits snugly even with the cheeks fully open. Surrounded by fine leather, you sit close to the asphalt, but compared to the huge dashboard, it looks a bit like a mezzanine floor. In the even stronger shells of the ergonomically excellent 911 you sit much lower and therefore sportier. The center console in the Chevy, which is raised far on the passenger side, creates a special cockpit feeling and creates a barrier to the passenger, who can then reach the casual button tower for the climate functions in a relaxed manner, for example to switch on the seat ventilation.
In any case, it's comfort and variability functions that the Ami offers a lot more of. Do you know that feeling when the heater boils everything but your feet remain blocks of ice? A heat ball spreads through the entire footwell, which helps twice, because the middle roof segment can still be removed from the coupé. It is stowed in the rear trunk, whose soft-close flap illuminates the showcase-like V8. So that nothing gets broken when manoeuvring, in addition to the reversing camera there are also two front cameras, which provide an image to the front and two from above onto the bumper. Another camera on the roof records the video rearview mirror (can be switched off), which improves the miserable all-round view to the rear. The GT3 only has a poor-quality reversing camera and parking beeper at the rear, but with the rear side windows there is no roulette factor when turning.
Great cinema in the Chevy
A highlight of the C8 is the travel mode of the optional Magnetic Ride adaptive shock absorbers, because only a few sports cars have such a flexible chassis. So Gran Turismo can do it, but by far the coolest function is the brightness control dial. In the night position, the speedometer switches to a minimal view, and apart from the P-R-N-D-M gear buttons, almost everything that lights up in the interior is switched off: On a dark street, the windshield in the pitch-dark interior becomes a cinema screen - a grandiose experience.
The V8 soundtrack sounds medium deep from the sport mode of the exhaust system, not bass heavy. The robust sound changes only slightly under full load over the narrow speed range (6,600 rpm).There is a tonal variance because the relatively short gears mean that you often tug on the steering wheel-mounted plastic shift paddles, which are fun with a comparatively long stroke, but click too laxly. On the other hand, you only press the accelerator pedal briefly on its base over land, which, like on the Porsche, does not have an annoying kick-down switch. What's more, you don't rely on full performance when accelerating, but let the eight-cylinder rattle up from the low rev range: because it sounds full and with the massive torque (613 Nm at 4,500 rpm) the LT2 pulls out with its 143 extra -Nm much more powerful than the boxer.
Despite its immense displacement, the V8 runs quite efficiently; after all, at 13.7 l/100 km it is only 0.8 liters more than the smaller boxer. Is that solely due to the V4 mode? No, because the sports driver consumptions are even closer together.
Touring equals fabric softener?
How you do the two sports, on the other hand, differs enormously. Because on the boot lid of the 911, which is officially called "GT3 with touring package", it says touring. But that only means that the large rear wing has been swapped for an extending spoiler and the splitter at the front has been adapted to the changed aero. More rubber instead of ball bearings? nope More noise insulation? nope A back seat? Nah, way too heavy. But a carbon roof for 3,558 euros. As a result, the driver sees more out of the rear window, loses downforce and appears more dignified with his 911.
So it's only called Touring because it's a familiar Porsche suffix - and because the more appropriate name 911 R was probably taboo after a limited special model (991 pieces) was called that in 2016, which many hobby investment advisors thought would be the last with GT3 engine and manual transmission. But it wasn't, because just like the touring package, the gearbox for the current GT3 can be booked free of charge.
The test car manages the gears via DCT. Yes, the sports car romance goes away, but in return it brings the usual advantages such as driver relief and shifting speed. Would you like a clutch kick? Pull both rockers (also C8). Above all, the second with the PDK only reaches around 120 instead of 130 km/h, ergo you are legally closer to the speed limit over land.
The boxer called MA1.175 steadily raises its shrill voice up to the 9,000-rpm peak. The screeching saw sound intensifies exponentially as soon as the turning capacity suddenly escalates from around 5,000 rpm to what feels like limitless (470 Nm at 6,100 rpm). It gets even better because the GT3 doesn't sing a cappella; instead, the top-stiff connection of the chassis and powertrain components results in all manner of motorsport noise, including the occasional dashboard vibration. This results in a permanently high noise level and bumpy driving comfort, which relaxes at higher speeds.However, at the right speed there are sometimes strong up and down movements over motorway waves, which can certainly be frightening.
Although the LT2 already delivers an excellent response, the MA1.175 with its six throttle valves seems to have no delay between accelerator pedal movement and engine reaction: If the right foot only twitches minimally over such a wave, it becomes absolutely synchronous with audible speed fluctuations accompanied. As exciting as the Corvette sounds, the Grammy for "Best Orchestral Performance" clearly goes to the 911.
On the one hand, this lightning-fast acoustic feedback helps the GT3-DKG feel even snappier than the already super-fast and smooth one the C8 (there is no manual transmission). On the other hand, in addition to the excellent steering and the chassis, it is further proof of the excellent communication with the driver. The ABS frequency also arrives in detail at the tight and precisely tuned brake pedal. Add to that the immediate and precise reaction to all inputs, the powerful grip of the standard track rollers and a rear-axle steering system that is effective in agility and stabilization: the steering always feels like sport, but never in the slightest bit nervous.
The Corvette steering is more direct around the middle position, which means that it requires more concentration on the parabola of the Hockenheimring (like a freeway bend). Without rear-axle steering, however, you're more likely to turn around in serpentines in the Chevy, with the hexagonal steering wheel getting on your nerves. In addition, the spokes point downwards and the right elbow must be kept close to the body, otherwise the center console gets in the way. The elbows are supported at the perfect height when cruising, and unlike the 911, the steering wheel is heated and offers a clear view of all cockpit information.
Steering feedback tends to be flat; the power assistance can be adjusted in three stages, just like the reaction of the brake-by-wire brake pedal. Despite a lot of trial and error, we only feel marginal differences in the characteristics. Although the ABS rattle comes at most via the body in the pedal, but the dosage works without any problems. This helps if you want to twirl the mid-engine athlete into corners on the brakes, because it eliminates the tendency to understeer when turning at the limit. And although the C8 has a much softer chassis, it still reacts to steering commands like a sports car - just not as snappy as the much more focused GT3, which weighs 202 kg less, although it carries 90 instead of 70 liters of fuel.
While the 911 with fully activated ESP is amazingly performance-aware, it cuts power oversteer promptly, but sensitively. The options: ESP off or TC/ESP off. But that's not necessary, because it's usually the aforementioned precision that gets you carried away in the GT3.Driving fun in the Corvette is promoted for non-professionals by the fact that in the ESP intermediate stage "Sport" it allows steering with the accelerator pedal to a greater extent, which fits perfectly: a little speed out, more fun in.
Basically, the C8 rear axle has similar traction despite the Michelins, which are more suitable for everyday use, the standard sprint is just 3.3 to 3.5 seconds behind the GT3. The C8 keeps up well with a delta of 1.2 seconds up to 180 km/h, after that the gap to the 28 hp more powerful 911 widens, because at 260 things it's already seven clicks.
Of course you will notice that even without a measuring device; nevertheless, there is no desire for more performance with the Corvette either. Rather, both time machines trigger enthusiasm for performance naturally aspirated engines. And fear of the Euro 7 emissions standard. Euphoria, respect, melancholy: can someone throw Tina on the plate? "You are simply the best – better than all the rest!"
In the end, the Chevy gambled away the cost advantage because, as a competitive athlete, it couldn't compete with the competitive athlete, but it stays close to the 911. The V8 bull has great sports car qualities, just mixed with a lot of Gran Turismo. The GT3, misleadingly called Touring, understands little of this, but it is fueled by a masterpiece of an engine - plus there is precision and communication of the highest quality.