Stola GTS Concept

If the paint scheme of the Stola GTS has you dreaming wistfully of the Porsche 917 Le Mans racer, that's just what its creator, Alfredo Stola, intended. 'When I was 10 years old I saw a Le Mans Porsche 917 in the blue and orange Gulf colours,' he recalls. 'The image was so powerful it has stayed with me all these years.'
Stola runs an eponymously named Turin-based automotive consultancy producing scale models, prototype components and full-size concept cars for clients. Client confidentiality means Stola can't use the projects it works on as publicity tools, so two years ago Afredo produced his own show car, the Boxster-based S82 Spyder, modelled on the iconic Porsche 550 Spyder.
And this year he produced the GTS you see here, taking Porsche's 904/6 GTS as its inspiration. Again based on the Boxster, its new front and rear sections, roof and rear deck are moulded from carbonfibre, with the remaining steel body panels modified to suit. The prominently angled front half-spoilers are claimed to create stabilising downforce, balanced by a large spoiler between the rear haunches. The rear valance incorporates a diffuser, hinting at a flat bottom and ground effects, and completing the racecar image. 
Handle-less doors open via a button on the door mirrors and access to the cabin requires the same degree of agility you need to get in and out of an Elise with the roof on. Tall drivers will bemoan restricted visibility through the windscreen although everyone is likely to be impressed by the retrimming of the Boxster's interior with black Alcantara and aluminium detailing.
German tuner Gemballa did the engine and suspension work on the Spyder, and Stola has gone back there again with the GTS. Gemballa reckons to have liberated another 40bhp over the 440bhp claimed for the Spyder, partly by bumping up the capacity of the 3.2-litre Boxster S engine to 3.4 litres. This has necessitated new liners and larger forged pistons that also lower the compression ratio to 9.0:1 to survive forced induction courtesy of one KKK K16 turbocharger per cylinder bank. 
All of which results in a claimed 480bhp at 7000rpm and 457lb ft at 4750rpm. Gemballa claims the 1280kg Stola GTS rockets to 60mph in 3.9sec and tops out at 190mph.
Gemballa's H&R-sourced race-style height-adjustable coil-over suspension sits 35mm lower than standard and has GT3-style lower suspension arms with harder bushes. Larger anti-roll bars are four-position adjustable. 
Porsches with lots more power and wider rubber tend to wind up their rear suspension bushes, resulting in an unpleasant squidgy feeling when you apply power out of corners. The harder bushes in the Gemballa suspension allow the GTS to deploy its substantial power with unshakeable poise. On a dry road, mechanical grip is phenomenal, and the Stola GTS corners flat and stable.
The shortened gearlever, topped by a Nardi aluminium knob, delivers a crisper shift action, but while it may look good, this stylish knob becomes unpleasantly hot under the sun. 
In a normal Boxster the engine note is different roof up or down. In the confined cabin of the GTS the sonic fest is either loud or louder depending on the angle of your right foot and the gear you're in. The turbos mute the engine noise but, as boost builds, the deep flat-six growl is overlaid by a whistle like a big kettle coming to the boil.
When you find a piece of open road to give the car its head, the acceleration is satisfyingly aggressive. The downside is turbo lag, the motor feeling lethargic until the big turbos spool up. Under full throttle from low revs, a deeper note from the sports exhaust announces something's happening, then the flat-six note begins to climb. 
Pass 2500rpm and the turbo lag disappears like a bank of fog lifting, and a giant hand pushes you hard through fast-blurring scenery. At 5000rpm the growl turns into a scream, and when you upshift near 7000rpm, the flutter of the wastegates blowing off excess boost completes the illusion that you're charging down the Mulsanne Straight

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