The purest, most desirable 911 available. Not for the fainthearted.
29 November 2006

What is it? The new GT3, the most capable and desirable high-performance 911 Porsche has produced in a generation –perhaps in its entire history. What's it like? Brilliant. The GT3 binds the two worlds of track performance and road usability like no other car on sale in the past or present. And yet still people harp on about potential lap times to the point that someone really does need to invent a one-hit, objective measurement of on-road abilities that can accurately convey achievement the way a time set on the Nürburgring does.But that’s a job for another day. I’m here to tell you about the new GT3, as a road car, in the United Kingdom. Pretty darn useful is the overall summary, and for those thinking that the new 911 Turbo has become a slightly anodyne device in version 997, this car makes a tempting alternative.The tirade against lap times isn’t just based on the silliness of basing an £80k buying decision on a time set by someone whose lapping skills are far beyond the reach of normal beings, it’s also that increased track pace is no great achievement. Anyone can make a fast circuit car, but producing one that can work on the road at the same time is an engineering nightmare. A car in which everything is optimised for circuit speed just doesn’t square with the real world. Hence the reason it is so surprising to trundle smoothly out of Porsche GB’s home in Reading and settle to a comfortable cruise on the M4. I even feel relaxed enough to make a few hands-free calls. This is not the expected role of the GT-monikered Porsche.The best way to highlight just how ‘everyday’ the car has become is to compile a list of the stuff that irritates. Sadly that can’t include ‘it’s a bit noisy’, ‘the ride is firm’ or ‘the heater’s rubbish’ because in the GT3 none of these is especially true. In fact, there is nothing that really irritates. The car is just a few per cent harsher than the equivalent Carrera S, meaning it falls easily into the usable category and, at the same time, somehow offers a world of performance and excitement quite foreign to owners of regular 997s. The ride is firm, but with the dampers left in the softer of the two settings, it only becomes troubled on badly broken B-roads. This could also be attributed to the way its 415bhp motor punts it about the place. They say the Turbo is faster, but the difference isn’t huge.There is one slight issue though, and it’s regarding the tacky Pilot Sport Cup rubber. Porsche and Michelin have done a stunning job creating a Cup tyre so comfortable, quiet and amenable in poor weather, but owners shouldn’t take liberties in atrocious conditions. Those being the ones dealt me during my day with this car. The rears on this example were down to 3mm and they couldn’t deal with more than 1cm of standing water. Still, just remember to keep them fresh and you’ll be fine. And watch out for noise tests at tracks too. With the Sport button on, it was black-flagged at Bedford, but fine without. This just means you must lap a few lb ft shy on the torque front.Our test car was the perfect specification too: a Clubsport (to get the optional rear cage), but with sat-nav, telephone and climate control. Should I buy one? Absolutely, if you've the cash. For the person inclined to own a great road car and attend many track events, it has to be the best of its type. It’s stunning in white, too. Chris Harris

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