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First drive: Porsche 911 GT3 PDK. Image by Porsche.

First drive: Porsche 911 GT3 PDK
Second generation Porsche 911 GT3 gets 991 RS power.

 



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Porsche 911 GT3 PDK

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

The new Porsche 911 GT3 benefits not just from a boost in output, but also from greater aero efficiency, more agility and more equipment. It lives up to the billing, in essence.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 GT3 PDK
Price: 111,802
Engine: 4.0-litre flat-six petrol
Body style: two-seat coupe
CO2 emissions: 288g/km
Combined economy: 22.2mpg
Top speed: 197mph
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Power: 500hp at 8,250rpm
Torque: 460Nm at 6,000rpm

What's this?

Purely and simply a bargain: the Porsche 911 GT3 dials up the intensity of its Carrera relations to another level for 911 customers wanting the most engaging drive possible. It's a well-proven formula, and one that's allowed Porsche to homologate its cars for racing for years. This 2017 GT3 builds on the old model, taking lessons learned from its GT3 RS and 911 R predecessors and drip-feeding them down the line-up to superb effect.

There's now a 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six engine under that big rear wing. It's essentially the same unit that powers Porsche's Cup racers, coming with some trick race-specification including a solidly mounted valvetrain and hollow crankshaft. The aerodynamics have been improved to increase downforce and stability, the latter also aided by the adoption of revised rear-axle steering. There's the latest Porsche Track Precision app connectivity, too, if you want to take your GT3 to the track and record your performance.

There's more standard equipment as well now, a new steering wheel and, as ever with the GT3, the deletion of the rear seats and free option of the 'Clubsport' package, which adds a rear cage, a fire extinguisher and race harnesses. Big news too is Porsche's offering of a manual transmission for the GT3, though we're testing it in this instance with the seven-speed PDK paddle-shift set-up.

How does it drive?

In Porsche's pursuit of greater intensity comes purity; the GT3 has always been a paragon of driver appeal and this new car absolutely retains that. It might have RS-matching power from its 4.0-litre flat-six engine out back, but despite the many similarities with its 991.1 GT3 RS relation it manages to feel very different at the same time. Lacking the more obvious aerodynamic revisions of the RS, the 991.2 GT3 is fitted not with the Turbo's wide body, instead featuring the shell from the Carrera 4 (and 911 R). That's apparent on the road, as the wing mirrors aren't as ominously filled by bodywork, creating the immediate impression of greater exploitability on narrower country roads.

That's not to say the GT3 doesn't wear its intent clearly; it remains an obviously sporty looking car, the huge rear wing, low front splitter and plentiful and sizeable air intakes in the front delineating its track aspirations and origins in comparison to its lesser Carrera relations. The cabin also wears that more focused intent with a pared back, driver-focused ambiance. It's a compelling mix, the usability of a Carrera (albeit minus the rear seats), mixed with a real clarity of purpose that places its emphasis on driving enjoyment and performance over everything else.

That Porsche achieves all that while retaining some genuine civility is remarkable, and the GT3 is now the variant that perhaps best represents the huge breadth of the 911's ability. It remains an easy car to drive in traffic, the engine offering low-rev tractability despite its huge enthusiasm for high revs. Yet it will set a sensational lap time, too, when it's asked to. The suspension delivers a ride that, while undoubtedly firm, isn't overly compromised despite its clear focus. The PDK transmission obviously aids that ease, here. The paddle-shifted seven-speed transmission swaps cogs with the sort of slick precision and speed that makes it a cinch when you're not chasing lap times; the GT3 is a car you really could use everyday. We'd applaud that hugely, despite our obvious enthusiasm for the returning manual gearbox option.

Choosing the PDK not only aids ease, but enhances acceleration, as the twin-clutch transmission is quantifiably quicker. It shaves 0.5 seconds off the 0-62mph of the manual for a time of 3.4 seconds, though the manual claws back the advantage at the top end, bettering the PDK's 197mph top speed by a couple of mph. Academic stuff, but for some it matters.

The whole package feels like a huge step on from the old GT3, itself an engaging and exciting driver's car. The new 500hp 4.0-litre 911 Cup racer-derived engine is an absolute screamer, its enthusiasm for revs insatiable. Wring it out to its 9,000rpm maximum and the sound it delivers is utterly intoxicating. The chassis it's attached to is communicative, the steering so quick and precise, it really is a car you can enjoy at any speed. On track it's sensational, and you can switch off the traction and stability systems safe in the knowledge you'll be informed when you're reaching the limits of grip and traction, and when you do its benign shift to slip can be enjoyed, and exploited.

Verdict

The GT3 is Porsche's most pure and focused model, and this new gen II 991 version builds on that to an extent greater than we expected. It's a sensational car. The new engine is an absolute masterpiece and when it's mated to the brilliant PDK transmission and the improved chassis it makes for one of the most engaging and complete driver's cars we've ever experienced. It really is that good. We'll see how it works with the manual too, but on this evidence, that six-speed, three-pedal car has got a difficult job to convince us it'll be the better car.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 11 May 2017









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2017 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2017 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2017 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2017 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2017 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.

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