by Roger Biermann
The Porsche 911 is both one of the greatest conundrums and finest engineering feats of the motoring world – taking a highly volatile rear-engine layout and turning it into one of the sweetest handling machines on the planet. But for those who consider themselves purists, those who like naturally aspirated responses and venture to track days more often than most, there's just one 911 to choose, one suffix to make sure is attached to your 911 badge. GT3. A hallowed badge and one that's once again managed to escape turbocharging when all other 991.2 generation cars haven't – oh, and you can have this one with a manual.
4.0-liter Flat 6 Gas
The track focused 911 GT3 means less weight for more performance. That means reduced functionality too, as the rear seats get deleted, leaving the 911 GT3 as a regular 2 seater sports car. The interior is swathed with Alcantara, while the supportive semi electric Sport seats plus are leather items with Alcantara center pieces and GT3 logos embosses. More hardcore enthusiasts may wish to opt for the carbon fiber framed full bucket seats with contrast striping.
The 5 round instrument gauges, with large central tachometer, are traditional for the 911 GT3 – housed behind an Alcantara clad sport steering wheel with 12 o'clock marker. In the center stack, you'll find Porsche's Connect Plus infotainment system, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as navigation. It's all very Porsche-like, except for the fact that reduced sound deadening quantities mean the interior is less insulated than any regular 911.
It defies logic how Porsche make a rear-engined, rear-driven car handle so well. Somehow, the GT3 handles better still, featuring what Porsche refer to as a Racing Chassis. The weight of the engine behind the rear axle is managed by active engine mounts, while the 991 GT3 features rear-wheel steering to improve handling still, at both low and high speeds. Stick the GT3 through any series of bends at any speed and through almost any driving line, and the chassis bends to your will, changing its behavior to suit your driving style.
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are fitted to the GT3 to help things stay sticky. They work. So too does the fixed rear wing, helping the rear end stay even more pinned. At the opposite end, the steering, electronically power assisted, may offer better feedback than most EPAS systems, but it loses its feel at crucial moments when understeer approaches.
In a 911 GT3, only natural aspiration will do to guarantee rapid throttle responses. The 4.0-liter flat 6 cylinder engine boasts outputs of 500 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque, both high enough up in the rev range to make you work for them – as it should be. The 911 GT3 is rear-wheel drive only, and while a 7-speed PDK dual clutch was the only gearbox available on pre-facelift models, the 991.2 generation gets the option of a sweet 6-speed manual too. 0-60mph with the manual shifter takes 3.8 seconds whilst the PDK's rapid-fire shifts drop that to 3.2 seconds.
The 911 GT3 is pared back from the factory but still includes amenities like a touch screen infotainment system with full Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The system also includes navigation and Porsche's Track Precision App. In the way of options, you can specify carbon full bucket seats and carbon ceramic brakes. A Touring Package – available only on manual models – mimics the 911R, replacing the fixed rear wing with one from the Carrera. Safety features include ABS with EBD, traction control and stability control, and a full suite of driver and passenger airbags. As with all sports cars, local authorities have not crash tested the GT3.
The 911 GT3 has a manual gearbox again – all is right in the world and track day enthusiasts can sleep easy. Though the electric steering may still be a weak point, the rest of the package continues to be the car by which all other sports cars are measured.