The 991 GT3 is the ultimate road-going 911. It revs to 9,000rpm and is profoundly exciting. Bearing the GT3 badge also marks it out as the ultimate ‘drivers’ 911 – or does it? Because the GT3 is, in the eyes of many, missing a key component required by the arbiters of what makes a great drivers’ car – a manual gearchange.
The most powerful, exciting, 911 you can now buy with a manual gearbox is something called a GTS, and, in the interests of research, I am going to be driving one for six months. I am very excited about this.
And also feeling a little bit humble. Because it now dawns on me that I have of late become a 911 snob. Such is the interest surrounding the more exotic GT3, RS and Turbo models and, if I’m being brutally honest, so much greater are the YouTube views, that I haven’t given the lesser 991 models a second thought in quite a while.
The GTS is effectively a Carrera S with the kitchen sink thrown at it. It gets the wider body and tracks of the Carrera 4, the optional 30hp power kit, giving a total of 430hp, and the Sports Chrono Plus package. This gives a switchable sports exhaust, two-way adjustable dampers and torque vectoring limited slip differential. Exclusive to the GTS is a 10mm drop in ride height.
Oh, and there is a manual gearbox option, which is the bit that really interests me. The last three-pedal car I used as a daily was back in 2007, a BMW M3. I am a strong advocate of the automatic transmission for everyday use, but I’ve also been craving a manual 911 experience for some time.
In many ways the GTS is being sold as the ultimate road-specification 911. It has no track-pretensions. There are mildly bolstered sports seats inside, heaps of Alcantara and, on ‘my’ car, loads of carbon. The other main option is the Sport Design package, which gives a new nose treatment and the little ducktail spoiler. I was a little worried about this last detail because I tend to like my ‘normal’ 911s to maintain that clean lozenge profile, but it does look really rather natty.
The driving experience is already intoxicating. The motor may not be as crazy at the GT3s, but from 4500rpm it pulls very, very hard and the intake noise is captivating. I’d forgotten how special the base 9A1 motor has become. For noise, response and sheer urge it is still one of the great road car engines.
And in the GTS you get to access it the way you see fit – using a lever and three pedals. The shift is now much better than earlier versions of the 7-speeder, even if the 5th-6th-7th relationship doesn’t quite feel entirely natural. I’m reveling it being in a manual again, I love the fact that car is only as good as my inputs – and I refuse to use the automatic blipping software that cuts-in when you’re in Sports mode!
The ride is pretty firm and road noise is quite pronounced – so it’s a normal 911 in those respects. The wider bodywork isn’t ideal for UK roads and the electric steering is miles, miles more communicative than in the last 991 I drove. I will investigate whether this is a software change or just a quirk of the wider chassis.
Every morning I wake up and there’s a 911 waiting for me to drive. If you love cars, there are few better things than that.
Many more updates to follow.