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What is it?
This is the latest version of Porsche’s acclaimed GT3 series, reflecting the changes made for the second generation of the 997 911. Porsche’s GT series cars are produced in limited capacity by Porsche’s motorsport division, alongside the racecars on which the GT3 is based, and as such the GT3 has been absent from Porsche’s price list since the tale end of 2007. Making its return very welcome indeed.
Visually the new generation GT3 mirrors a number of changes introduced with the MkII 997, namely the introduction of daylight running lights and changes to the interior, but the GT3 does not follow the regular series 911's introduction of direct fuel injection nor the option of Porsche’s PDK gearbox. Porsche cite the 20kg saving, and customer preference for mechanical interaction, as the logic for sticking with a conventional six-speed manual transmission.
The innovation with this latest GT3 comes with an enlarged version of the motorsport derived flat six, now displacing 3.8-litres instead of 3.6, increasing power by 20bhp to 429bhp. Torque is also bolstered, particularly through the midrange, while economy and emissions improve.
The other big news is the tweaks made to the aerodynamics. Andreas Preuniger, general manager for Porsche’s High Performance cars, says his aim with the new car was not to make it significantly faster in a straight line (top speed of 193mph is just 1mph quicker), but to use the larger engine’s extra grunt to offset increased downforce, which the new car has four times of that of the previous car. The other detailed changes include lighter wheels, with a single centre bolt, shaving 2.5kg from the unsprung mass, and larger yet lighter front discs brakes.
What’s it like?
The static appearance leaves little room for doubt that the GT3 is a very different beast to the regular Carrera, even more so with this latest incarnation, which features more vents and slats, this time covered with motorsport style wire meshing. There’s also an even more extrovert rear wing, complete with 3.8 badges on the end plates – harking back to the 1993 3.8RS.
The GT3 engine also differs considerably from that of the regular 911 – the only carry over parts being the generator and AC unit – and as the regular flat six becomes ever more refined and - whisper it - more anodyne, the GT3 engine retains character in buckets. It is quicker to rev, and revs higher, now to 8500rpm, 100rpm than before, and possesses a wondrous repertoire of sounds.
The new larger engine is noticeably stronger than before, more in the mid range where there is now a more pronounced cam change around 5000rpm, than at the top end, which remains deliciously frenetic. A sport button relinquishes an extra 40 lbft of torque below 4000rpm, through permanently opening the active exhaust butterfly valves.
As before the gearshift requires a firm hand, but perfectly complements the engine, and should you manage to pull off a well-executed downchange, the satisfaction is immeasurable.
Compared to the 997 Mk1, Porsche have ever so slightly tweaked the standard suspension settings – as before the GT3 is fully adjustable – with firmer spring rates, reduced ride height and thicker anti-roll bars. Truth be told, you have to be fairly pushing on to notice any real difference, such is the GT3’s reserves of grip, but at higher speeds the new GT3 does feel more keyed into the road, particularly at the front end.
The good news is that the firmer settings haven’t adversely affected the GT3’s surprisingly compliant ride quality – this remains a car you could use every day. In other respects the GT3 feels very much as it did before, and we have no complaint with that. The steering is just sensational, and short of a track special Caterham nothing offers a more involving, thrilling drive.
Should I buy one?
Yes. End of.