Somewhere around the 8000-rpm mark the hairs on the back of your neck will stand up. The rawness of the engine inches behind you, hiding under a few layers of carpet, metal, and insulation, feels closer than ever. A pure, mechanical sound fills every void in the cabin.
But the 4.0-L naturally aspirated flat-6 isn’t done. There are still a thousand more revs to unwind and every one of them feels special.
If you’re lucky enough to experience this and don’t come out of it feeling something, you might need to check your pulse.
The engine is the single most exciting thing about the latest 911 GT3. In 992 form, the GT3 has achieved peak sports car status.
Yes, we’re not supposed to like gasoline engines anymore, they’re bad, they spew unhealthy things from their exhaust, they’re killing the planet, and so on.
I agree that we need to curb our emissions and lower our eco footprints, and drive electric cars, but cow farts do just as much, if not more damage, to our environment and a low volume, mega-expensive car like the 911 GT3 is less harmful to our planet than that steak you just downed at Ruth’s Chris.
I’d even argue that it makes the world a better place, gauging from all the smiles and positive reactions the GT3 attracted wherever it went.
Electric cars are where we are headed but even the Porsche Taycan EV, as fast and capable and brilliant as it is to drive, fails to deliver even a drop of the excitement something like the GT3 and its 9000-rpm jewel of an engine can.
The bespoke power plant is essentially lifted straight out of the 911 RSR and 911 GT3 Cup cars. Battle-tested under the grueling conditions of endurance racing, the engine in the GT3 road car can handle just about any abuse you can throw at it, whether on the street or the track.
With individual throttle valves and a dry-sump oiling system, it certainly fits the description of a motorsports device. It develops 502 hp at 8400 rpm and 346 lb-ft of torque at 6100 rpm. A 7-speed PDK dual-clutch was fitted to my Euro-spec tester and sends the engine’s power to the rear wheels. A 6-speed manual can be had at no additional cost.
Many GT3 customers routinely track their cars, a fact that separates them from the typical Lamborghini and Ferrari owners that would rather keep their prized possessions looking pristine in a hidden garage away from prying eyes.
Weapons-grade components derived from extensive motorsports experience and a no-compromise approach to using only the absolute pinnacle of go-fast technology and nothing extra makes the GT3 one of the toughest and most thoroughly thought out sports cars in existence.
Motorsports derived aero
Almost every car I drive has come concession made to please the bean counters that quickly shut down anything driving production costs too high. You can see this evidence of cost-cutting in vehicles no matter what their price of entry is. There’s always some compromise made but not here.
The new swan neck rear spoiler is an example of this: hinged from the top, the underside of the wing has an undisturbed path for air to flow, increasing downforce and reducing airflow losses. The spoiler is manually adjustable for street or track conditions. It works in conjunction with the manually adjustable front spoiler and a large “real” rear diffuser that frames the centre-mounted lightweight sports exhaust.
At 200 km/h a GT3 in full attack mode produces over 150 per cent more downforce than before.
For the first time in 911 history, the GT3 is fitted with a double-wishbone front suspension swiped from the 911 RSR but adapted for road use. It provides greater control and cornering stability, especially on rough roads.
The rear multilink has also been adapted to the GT3’s standards and in fact Porsche says that it shares nothing with the suspension on the standard 911 Carrera models.
At just 1435 kg the 992 GT3 has not gained any weight despite wearing a wider body with bigger wheels and being crammed with more tech than ever before. Savings were achieved wherever possible. The hood, front spoiler, and rear spoiler are made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). Thinner and lighter glass is used all around, the exhaust saves 10 kg on its own, and if you spec the full carbon bucket seats you see here, you’ll save another 12 kg.
The culmination of all this tech means that the GT3 in the hands of Porsche development driver Lars Kern lapped the Nurburgring in a scarcely believable time of 6:59, over 17 seconds quicker than the outgoing model.
It’s an incredible achievement for a road car, especially one that feels so natural and comfortable to drive.
Yes, I said comfortable. It’s certainly not what you expect given the retina-searing Shark Blue paint job and sky-high rear wing. While it certainly is at home on the race track and has the looks to match, the GT3 can be driven every single day on normal roads and on congested highways, though the open road is where it starts to make more sense.
Indeed, a racetrack is a necessity to flesh out just how incredibly capable a GT3 is but there are great roads to flex a bit of its muscle if you know where to look. Which is exactly what I did.
The carbon buckets with their high bolsters and fixed seatbacks make ingress and egress challenging unless you have the body of a pre-teen gymnast. There’s a wrong way and a right way to do it. The right way is butt first, then swing your legs over. Once in, the seats are super comfortable but will keep you fully secure against high cornering forces. The driving position is about as perfect as it gets with excellent visibility except through the rear window where the view is bisected in half by the rear wing.
Twist the key, and the flat-6 snaps to life with an aggressive bark but then quickly settles into a purposeful idle. The heavy throttle pedal takes a bit of effort to get moving but it is precise and linear. Not much happens during the first quarter of the tach, perfect for around town. With the exhaust in quiet mode, the cabin is hushed but there’s more road and tire noise than in the 911 Carrera and even at low speeds you feel a lot more of the outside world. It feels related to the 911, but distinct.
Thanks to the lack of turbos, the engine note goes from gravelly and coarse in the first few thousand revs and starts to sing as you sail past 4000 rpm. That’s when things get serious and induction noise envelops your inner ear.
North of 4000 rpm, the mechanical symphony emanating from the GT3 is awe-inspiring. If you could close your eyes, visions of racecars flying down the Mulsanne straight are sure to be the first image you see.
As you approach a corner the steering, not as lightning quick as you expect, feels alive in your hands. On-centre feel is rock solid and any lock dialed in is met with a precise and instantaneous response. There’s no roll, dive, or squat, or play in anything, just reactions. The balance is neutral and the rear end remains glued to the pavement at sub-racetrack speeds.
Within a few minutes, you know exactly what the car is going to do with whatever input you give it. Like any good tool, the GT3 quickly disappears from underneath you and becomes an extension of your own body, like an exo-skeleton with wheels. The experience is sublime and repeatable. The GT3 never skips a beat or puts a tire wrong and it makes you feel like you’ve just discovered something amazing that no one else knows about.
With only a couple of days behind the wheel, my time in the GT3 was much too short. It’s one of those objects, car or not, that leaves such a deep impression you feel like you’ll likely never forget it. And yet the future of the automotive landscape is changing so rapidly that cars like this are quickly being discontinued or morphed into something else completely.
If you have the means, the new Porsche 911 GT3 is about as perfect as a sports car can get. It’s a culmination of the best of motorsports and road technology in one brilliant package. That famous Porsche slogan really rings true. There is no substitute.