Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
MAY 02nd 2017
The Goodwood Test: 991.2 Porsche 911 GT3
The Porsche 911 GT3 first appeared in 1999 and was based on the '996' generation car, fitted with a pared-back specification and a motorsport-derived 'Mezger' 3.6-litre flat-six. In truth, the inspiration for the car goes back to the many track-influenced 911 variants produced by Porsche over the decades. The branding has changed over the years but the format has stayed true – a direct bloodline to racing 911s, the minimum of gizmos and, at the heart, a naturally aspirated flat-six and chassis tuned to put its power to the track. This is the second generation '991' GT3, Porsche once again offering a manual version after outcry from purist customers about the switch to a PDK dual-clutch transmission.
There are three body styles in the current 991-generation 911 range and the GT3 uses the middle Carrera 4 based 'widebody' shell, albeit with just rear-wheel drive and an aggressive body kit. On the surface, the changes are detail – a slightly cleaner front end, tweaked intakes at the back and a slightly repositioned rear wing. An all-new 4.0-litre engine with 500ps [493bhp] matches the previous RS and R models, the new GT3 including underbody aero from the latter for greatly improved downforce. Unlike regular 911s the GT3 is a strict two-seater, the no-cost Clubsport package including a half cage and harnesses to complete the motorsport vibe.
Hard to believe but the GT3 is currently the only non-turbocharged 911 in the range. And that engine really is the heart of the matter. More muscular than the 3.8 in the last GT3, it's also revvier, howling to a frankly fearsome 9,000rpm. Where a turbocharged Carrera is running out of puff at 6,000rpm the GT3 is just getting into its stride, that final lunge for the redline as fierce as it is intoxicating. A Turbo is faster in a straight line but in power delivery, handling and feedback the GT3 stands alone and rewards enthusiast drivers both on the road and (even more so) on the track.
While the rest of the 911 range becomes more grown up and sensible, the GT3 is raw, challenging to exploit and reserves its best for owners willing and able to step up and drive it properly. You need to pilot it like a traditional 911, managing the weight over the nose to stop it understeering, using the swing from the rear to get it turned in and then wringing every last glorious rev out of that magnificent engine to erupt out of the corner and down the straights. Where the previous 991 GT3 broadened the appeal to a wider audience this is a decided step back towards the hardcore. And the better for it.
Price tag of our car: £111,802 (OTR, before options)
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