In fact, and by any other standards, it is a fabulous achievement and should be seen in the context not of the two cars that did steal ahead of it but its many and varied far more direct rivals that did not.
Yes, you can question the wisdom of fitting electric steering to a GT3 (I once worked out that the resulting fuel saving on a standard 911 equated to a free tank of fuel every 40,000 miles) and you can quibble all day long about the absence of a third pedal in the footwell, but what you can’t do is suggest with any credibility that the result is somehow diminished as a driving machine. What it might have lost in some areas it has more than gained in others.
It is, of course, the most frequently perpetuated crime among over-privileged motoring journalists existing in a parallel world where exotica arrives both free and fuelled simply to say: “If you don’t believe us, try one for yourself.” But if you could and, indeed, if you can, you’d know that the GT3 is no disappointment at all.
Its greatest strength is its least obvious. If you drive it fast, and I mean fast in the way the wise men of Weissach mean fast, it will, of course, thrill you. With an engine that really will rev to 9000rpm, it could hardly fail in that regard. But that’s not it. It feels impossibly agile, too, thanks to the wheelbase-shortening effects of its four-wheel steering, but that’s not it, either. Nor is it the deftness of the damping or a dual-clutch automatic gearbox as good as any on the market. It’s how damned cheap it is.
This might seem an odd thing to say in the context of a car with a six-digit price, at least until you look around at likely rivals. Conceptually, the closest is the Ferrari 458 Speciale, a car that is even more spectacular both to look at and to drive.
The Ferrari is quicker and yet more lucid. But we’re not talking vast margins here, margins that would dwindle to nothing if you were not a skilled driver capable of commanding such cars on the limit or, more simply, weren’t on a race track.
Yet you can buy a GT3 and have a whole other GT3 as a spare, all for the price of one Speciale. That is Porsche’s most notable achievement with this car, and why the GT3 still ranks among the greatest road cars in its history.
2 - BMW i3
You know your car as well as you know your home. Maybe better. The fundamental functions of both are so familiar that you don’t have to think about how they work; were it not dangerous to do so, you could operate either blindfold. You take them entirely for granted, as you do the water in your tap, the light in your bulbs and the shoes on your feet.
But the BMW i3 is not like this. I’ve been driving i3s on and off for more than a year and the novelty shows no sign of wearing off. Every time I get in one, it feels different, interesting and special. I could name cars costing three times as much that don’t have this going for them on first acquaintance, let alone thousands of miles down the line.
The i3 doesn’t look like any other car, not just because BMW thought that it had better confer some funky post-modern style upon it to appeal to the bright, young and environmentally unimpeachable citizens at whom it is aimed, but also because it really isn’t like any other car. It doesn’t feel like one and it doesn’t drive like one, either.
Remarkably, then, it still manages to feel and drive like a BMW, or how you’d like a BMW to feel and drive. It’s taut, precise, at times comically responsive and, yes, fun. Fun in a way that no all-electric family car has ever been fun. Not even a Tesla Model S.