There’s no replacement for excitement. For people like us, cars are the most perfect representation of fun, as they combine multiple elements, such as style, technology and speed, in the most wonderful way possible. Hardcore enthusiasts always look for the “track-day-specials”, the cars which carry on the most number of racing parts as possible and maybe are assembled in the racing departments of car Manufacturers.
Escape on Wheels has always been all about getting a cool car and get out hunting for the best road possible. Our idea for a journey is indeed very simple: from point A to point B, the only thing that is certain is that we never reach it. Instead, we progress from road to road, searching for ultimate driving Nirvana. We’re not the first and neither one of the few that do so, but that’s how we live our lives: driving on top of everything.
Now to the question you’re probably asking yourselves: why the 997 GT3 RS and the Clio Williams together? First off, they do not share any technical similarities: front wheel drive vs all rear drive; the hottest hot hatch from the 90ies against a legend of the 2000’s; practical performance vs racing-car attitude. On paper they’re not in any way comparable: yet they still carry the ultimate thrill of driving. Both are able to reach absolute perfection on the road, which translates in ultimate satisfaction while driving. They’re both two state-of-the art mechanical jewels, which obtain what many modern cars do in the most mechanical way possible.
I won’t deny that Chris Harris’ video between a Peugeot 205 Rallye and a 991 R was the main inspiration behind this Escape. The best cars to drive, the ones that you’ll remember most, are the ones who have “no filters” and were made just for pure driving perfection. Horsepower and acceleration will indeed make you smile, but it is the driving experience you’ll remember most of the time.
What do the 997 GT3 RS and the Clio Williams have in common? The same spirit and driving experience. They’re involving to drive and offer plenty of fun to drive on the road.
Let’s first begin with the “Daddy” first, the GT3 RS. It is not mystery that it is every bit as good as you would imagine. The GT department at Porsche wasn’t really thinking about the word “compromise” when designing this masterpiece: with the gleaming red wheels and rollcage, the RS is a stone-throw away from being a racing car. Allow me another overly-used chlichè: it is a racing car with a license plate strapped on. Despite its stiff suspension set up it offers plenty of balance and control when driving over a bumpy road and the satisfaction which comes from heel-and-toeing and shifting the properly-sorted manual ‘box is immense and rewarding. Despite not being a classic car, the GT3 RS delivers a raw, unfiltered driving experience, which will please those enthusiasts who take driving very seriously. The controls have a wonderful mechanical feel and are very well calibrated: there’s nothing which should be changed or altered. Brake and turn-in late into the corner, apply a minimum amount of throttle and this great Porsche will reward you with plenty of grip and stability. The powerful 3.8 liter flat-six pushes hard from 4-5.000 rpm, assuring a ludicrous acceleration out of the corners.
Where the RS excels is in its perfect mechanical feeling, which is now one of the reasons why it is worth the same asking price it had when new. Not different is the tiny and very blue Renault Clio Williams. When was the last time a F1 team put their hands on a humble hot-hatch and turned it into a legend? Driving this french bomb feels like savouring what the gods of driving drive everyday. It is remarkably supple and comfortable but it is composed as it doesn’t have too much roll and jaw under acceleration and braking and the grip is worth the GT3RS alone. let’s say that the Williams has its own mystery: it doesn’t have any anti-roll bars and neither a “special-handling” package yet it rides as beautifully as a Rolls but turns with the same aggression and grip of a proper racing car. It is a thing of pure beauty: the 150 hp engine, which was developed by Williams at that time pulls relentlessly up to the redline, with a progression and immediacy which will make any supercar envious. Probably the best part of the Clio Williams is how it responds to the driver’s inputs: the gearshifts are buttery smooth, precise and are a joy to use; the pedalboard allows for perfect heel-and-toeing as it was properly developed for such a task; the steering requires more turns than expected but it is communicative and direct. The Williams is so good it doesn’t require badges everywhere to remind you what you are driving: it feels special and different. If this car was a product of the finest F1 engineering of the 1990ies, I cannot imagine what its modern counterpart could be like. The Williams achieves one of the highest levels of mechanical perfection which is responsible for the ultimate driving experience.
So for a conclusion: what do we need to have in a car for it to have our hearts beat faster? It’s not horsepower and neither is the ultimate technology: it’s its sincerity, its honesty in making the driver understand why it was built that way. Cars are machines but the really good ones always let the work of the men behind it shine through. It is no foolish statement to say that cars have a soul: it is the result of hours of passionate work of the people who built it which ultimately gives life to a seemingly soulless object.
Thanks to our friends Giovanni and Nicola