Which is the best of the Porsche 911 GT3s?
It’s not a question I need to be asked often, because you’d be certainly surprised and quite possibly appalled to learn how often I ask it myself.
It’s not that I’m unsure. On the contrary, I’ve been so sure for so long I’m hoping that one day the internal monologue might reach a different conclusion. And yes, that’s just like watching Titanic over and over hoping for the time the ship doesn’t sink.
But there you have it. The answer is the second generation of the 997-era of GT3 RS. A 2010 car. It’s the last GT3 based on the original water-cooled design, and before Porsche altered the character of the car by extending its wheelbase and adopting electric steering.
Not that the gen-2 997 GT3 RS is quicker, grippier or in many measurable ways better than those that came before or after. It just hit the sweet spot. On one hand, it had that howling yet unbustable Mezger flat six, in 4.0-litre form the best engine fitted to a street 911 and still monumental as a 3.8. It had exquisite balance, a magical gearbox and, above all, an ability to connect the driver to the road that has yet to be beaten by any descendant.
On the other, it remains usable. This is not ‘just’ a GT3, but an RS, yet it rides well enough and, while wonderfully sonorous, is not so boisterous that you couldn’t use it all the time. The key to a 911 is not just how good it is to drive, but how often it makes you want to drive it. And that RS remains king.
Or does it? As I’ve been writing this, my mind has turned to another GT3, a 2017 manual gen-2 991-era GT3 Touring (grey, black leather, no badges if you’re offering). It might not yet supplant the older car in my affections, but it’s close and getting closer. Maybe I should get the two together, find out for sure and remove the voices in my head forever. Or at least until I drive another GT3.