Tour de force: New Porsche 911 Turbo S vs McLaren GT

Less predictable is what happens next in the context of this test, not least because I’ve warmed to the GT rather a lot over those 170 miles. Whisper it, but maybe an overall win now looks possible. The car is laughably good on the motorway, even though it wants to ghost up into triple-digit speeds constantly. At speed, the otherwise booming V8 drops to a simper and the cabin is then noticeably quieter than with other McLarens, thanks also to the suppression of wind and road roar.

The body seems to slip through the air so deftly, despite the brutally sharp Tornado-style intakes looming in the wing mirrors, and while the new electric seats are mounted a touch high, they’re also voluptuous, soft and supportive. You then get all the benefits of the MonoCell II carbonfibre monocoque, which has been modified (and the exhaust system routed lower) to incorporate the 420-litre rear luggage bay. The tub’s immense rigidity allows for spring rates whose softness even the most synaptically challenged passenger couldn’t fail to appreciate.

The low-cut scuttle and, on this car, integrated panoramic roof then flood the cabin with light, volume and feel-good factor. The effect may not be quite so pronounced as with the 600LT, but in the GT you really do feel perched on an arrowhead, with the road rapidly scrolling away below. I wonder why it has taken this long for someone to make an attempt at developing a genuine mid-engined GT. Done well, the layout clearly provides a sublime sense of motion and visibility.

So I’m feeling fresh when I clap eyes on the 911 Turbo S that Saunders has driven to Exmoor. And, well, wow. It looks incredibly purposeful, and if the Mac’s exterior design is fussy in vaguely die-cast fashion, the 3.7-litre Porsche’s butch form is straight monolithic. Comfortably shorter than the GT, the 911 is only a touch narrower and then taller, but its shocked expression and the delirious curves of those rear arches, which sit almost horizontal at one point, mean it outguns the supercar for presence. How on earth did that happen?

The hardware of the Turbo S is every bit as serious. While it lacks a carbonfibre tub and doublewishbone suspension, instead using MacPherson struts with a multi-link arrangement for the stocky rear axle, its wheel-and-tyre package is much more substantial, with 315-section rear rubber compared with the Mac’s 295-section Pirellis. It has thumping brakes (with 10-piston front calipers), four-wheel drive (with water now cooling the front diff and tougher clutches) and, in terms of brute force, it’s simply no contest. The McLaren’s 465lb ft output peaks satisfyingly high at 5500rpm, but the Turbo S is channelling 590lb ft at only 2500rpm through its reinforced PDK gearbox. Both, it must be said, are faster than you would ever need on road or track, but only one has shredded your mind before the crank has really got going.

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