Racing to the road: the new GT3
24 February 2006

Porsche is presenting the new 911 Turbo at Geneva. But even that car pales next to this, the next GT3 – which will also be there. To be unveiled next Tuesday at the Show, the GT3 will be on UK sale from late August.

The engine – a further development of the race unit from the GT1 of 1998 – puts out 415bhp. Despite not being in touch with the new Turbo’s 480bhp, it is a huge hike from the 380bhp of the previous GT3. It will be the manner in which this naturally aspirated power is delivered that will be crucial.

The torque figure of 298lb ft gives a clue that this engine will, like its parent, thrive on revs. Their limit has been increased again, now sitting towards the stratosphere at 8400rpm, with power peaking at 7600rpm. Just as the airflow in the new Turbo’s exhaust is more finely controlled than ever before, so Porsche’s engineers have paid attention to airflow through the GT3’s engine; optimised by a variable air intake, enlarged throttle valve, new cylinder heads and low backpressure exhaust. All this sees the car reach 62mph in a brief 4.3 seconds (the claim for the Turbo is 3.9; the old car took 4.5) and 100mph in 8.7 seconds – markers on its journey to a 194mph top speed. There is a revised six-speed transmission, and change-up lights on the rev counter.

But a Porsche – and particularly a GT3 – is not simply about travel in a straight line. For the first time, the GT3 has Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), with its normal and sport modes. The former is broadly similar to the previous model’s chassis; the latter switches the dampers to harder settings. Whether this will make the new GT3 a rather less raw experience than the previous model remains to be experienced. That the electronic traction control has been adapted from the Carrera GT and can be switched off completely hints there may be plenty of edge remaining; the traction control cuts in only when the rear wheels lose grip and is not part of a stability management system, something both the ordinary Carrera and new Turbo have.

The car’s looks blend road and track, being perhaps the most striking pre-drive feature of the GT3: the width of the rear track; the central exhaust pipes; the aggressiveness of the whole aero package; the hungry-looking front air intakes.

The first GT3 started life as a homologation special. This car has an ever more complex role: still providing the basis for FIA GT competition and the rawest 911 thrills on the road, but also higher levels of driving and interior comfort. It even has Porsche’s Communication Management system and comfort seats.

However, there will be a Clubsport version with hard shell seats, six point harnesses, lightened door trims and a fire extinguisher. Most importantly, the standard GT3 weighs just 15kg more than its predecessor.

And how much? £79,540.

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