Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche 911 GT3 from £111,802

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - OL­LIE MAR­RIAGE

WE SAY: TEN OUT OF TEN, FOR A PORSCHE. WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT IT?

Fa­mously, this is the car that proves the man­ual gear­box is not dead. When the cur­rent 911 GT3 frst ap­peared in 2013, it was only avail­able with Porsche’s twin-clutch trans­mis­sion. Four years down the line and af­ter customers kicked up a fuss, Porsche has back-tracked. The GT3, Porsche’s hard­core road/track car, is now avail­able with the 6spd man­ual frst seen on last year’s retro-in­spired 911R.

But a new gear­box does not war­rant this much mag­a­zine real es­tate (we’ve writ­ten about it in the col­umn, right) and be­sides, the red one in the pic­tures here is a PDK. Which is prob­a­bly the bet­ter gear­box. Al­though I’d have the man­ual. Con­fused? Let’s wind back and start at the top. So this is a mid-life facelift for the 991-gen­er­a­tion GT3. It’s lifted some of the fea­tures seen on the even more track-fo­cused GT3 RS and had a gen­tle fet­tle all round. The rear spoiler has been moved back 20mm and up 10mm, de­liv­er­ing 20 per cent more down­force, the bumpers are marginally lighter, the dampers have been re­tuned and the springs are a lit­tle stifer.

And the en­gine? Well, that used to be a 469bhp 3.8-litre fat-six, but now it’s a 4.0 that has iden­ti­cal power and torque fgures (493bhp and 339lb ft) to big brother GT3 RS. Porsche says it’s not the same en­gine, but in­stead a lightly al­tered ver­sion of the mo­tor in the 911 Cup and RSR rac­ers (where it pro­duces 485bhp and 510bhp re­spec­tively). But that’s ba­si­cally a lightly al­tered ver­sion of the GT3 RS mo­tor, so we’re just go­ing round in cir­cles here.

What is true is that this one revs to 9,000rpm, 200rpm be­yond the RS. That’s thanks to new in­ter­nals in­clud­ing a difer­ent crank­shaft and pis­tons, low­er­ing fric­tion and op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­tures, and en­abling that lofty rev peak. What­ever they’ve done has worked – this en­gine is ut­terly tran­scen­den­tal. Maybe it’s be­cause more cars have switched to tur­bocharg­ing, but the frst time I ac­cel­er­ated hard in the GT3 it ac­tu­ally shocked me with how hard it hit at the top end. I mean it’s rapid ev­ery­where and de­li­ciously re­spon­sive, but the fnal 2,000rpm is prop­erly nuts, the noise a yelp­ing, scream­ing crescendo. Prick­les your nape, snaps your synapses, a world be­yond tur­bos, etc. It’s a re­minder of what an art form the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine is.

PDK is a brilliant part­ner, the shifts not even a punc­tu­a­tion mark on the GT3’s progress to as­ton­ish­ing speeds. Yes, it’s light on torque low down, but heck, this is the GT3, a car you’re meant to drive. So just con­cen­trate.

The han­dling, the whole dynamic pack­age is a per­fect com­ple­ment to the driv­e­train. The damp­ing is frm, but so pol­ished and com­mu­nica­tive, the steer­ing pro­vides stability and in­for­ma­tion and conf­dence in abun­dance. So much so that you no­tice the front end just misses a frac­tion of turn-in bite at road speeds. I know that’ll be there on track, where you’ll have higher tyre tem­per­a­tures and be able to trail brake to the apex, keep­ing weight on the nose – just what a rearengined 911 loves.

The rear axle is mega. The drive is so prompt that it feels like there’s a rigid link from right foot to rub­ber and the be­hav­iour as the speeds build is per­fect. Cor­ners get zapped, the en­gine howls, the sus­pen­sion dances – it’s all good. And it rides with such dex­ter­ity that, while you wouldn’t call it com­fort­able, you can say that you al­ways move in sync with the car, so you’re not jig­gled about in­side, but in­stead move in time with it. Yep, you really could run one of these as your daily mo­tor and not sufer.

In­side, the driv­ing po­si­tion is per­fec­tion. This car came with the one-piece car­bon buck­ets (£3,324) that hug hard. You’re sat low, hands on a small, 360mm di­am­e­ter steer­ing wheel, and there are few set­tings to mess around with. Dampers on/of. Ex­haust on/of. Gear­box sport mode on/of. That’s it. It means you have a nat­u­ral, unadul­ter­ated car, one the en­gi­neers want you to drive, not one the mar­ket­ing de­part­ment in­sists that you have.

Not pic­tured: Porschep­hile go­ing weak at the knees Any­one re­mem­ber when 911s were small and had 200bhp? Us nei­ther

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