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

First drive: Porsche 911 GT3 manual
Old-school reunion? The Porsche 911 GT3 gets a manual gearbox again

   



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Porsche 911 GT3 manual

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Porsche purists rejoice, the firm's engineers have listened, and the second-generation 911 GT3 is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox alongside the PDK automatic

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 GT3 manual
Price: 111,802
Engine: 4.0-litre flat-six petrol
Body style: two-seat coupe
CO2 emissions: 290g/km (Road tax 2,000 for first year, then 450 for five years, then 140)
Combined economy: 21.9mpg
Top speed: 199mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 500hp at 8,250rpm
Torque: 460Nm at 6,000rpm

What's this?

An admission that the previous generation Porsche 911 GT3 shouldn't have just been offered with a PDK transmission. Until then, the GT3, Porsche's purest and most driver-focused model, had been resolutely manual, shunning the zeitgeist and sticking with three pedals and a gearstick. When the first 991 GT3 was launched that changed, and we weren't alone in thinking that it had sold out in the pursuit of lap times over everything else. Given that the GT3 is built on the same line as Porsche's racing cars, perhaps that shouldn't have been such a surprise, but back at its launch you could sense from the GT department's staff that they realised they placed speed in front of purity and outright driver appeal in their list of priorities, however impressive that PDK transmission was.

It remains so (read our review of it here), but for the new gen II 911 GT3, Porsche has pinched the six-speed transmission it developed for the 911 R, tweaked it and fitted it back in the GT3. Rejoice, all you three-pedal, stick-wiggling purists, then, as here's a rear-wheel drive, race-engine borrowing road car with all the new GT3's improvements just for you.

How does it drive?

We've come to expect incremental improvements from Porsche, and that's very much the case for the new GT3. And yet, the advances that make up the gen II 991 GT3 seem to be a bit bigger than usual. We'll get to the transmission in a second, but it's worth discussing the engine first. Capacity is up, from 3.8 to 4.0 litres, while the internals have been significantly revised. There's a new rigid valvetrain, lighter components, a hollow crankshaft that lubricates the bearings down its shaft, reduced friction bore linings and a new intake system.

It needs significantly less oil, reducing pumping and splash losses, while that rigid valvetrain adds as much as 9hp due to its lower friction. If you're thinking that its specification reads like a race engine, then you'd be right, as the GT3's unit is basically lifted from Porsche's 911 GT3 Cup cars. Its output is 500hp at 8,250rpm, and it redlines at a dizzying 9,000rpm. Peak torque of 460Nm is produced at 6,000rpm, but low-rev response has been improved dramatically thanks to a dual flap intake system. It's a bit quieter at low revs than before, but the increased urgency is obvious. The way it chases its redline, and the glorious mechanical symphony that accompanies it and fills the pared back cabin, is so rich in note and addictive you'll find any excuse to drop a cog or two and run it up towards the red paint.

Do that, and not only is the sound sensational, but so too is the ferocity of the performance from that 4.0-litre flat-six engine. After a day in the PDK model, we were genuinely concerned that mating such an immediate and responsive engine to a manual gearbox might be problematic. It isn't; the manual car is a touch slower from 0-62mph than the PDK (by half a second, but who's counting?), but it's such a crisp and fast shifting gearbox that it's easily up to matching the demands made upon it from that epic powerplant. The clutch weighting is spot on, while the quality, weight and speed of the gearstick as it negotiates its gate is perfect, too, with a beautifully judged mechanical feel, which, like the rest of the GT3, is rich in sensation.

It's essentially the same six-speeder as the 911 R, only here, it's got a dual-mass flywheel. GT Department Head, Andreas Preuninger, told us that a single mass flywheel doesn't work with the engine's stiffer crankshaft. He's also quick to point out that the engine's lack of inertia is such that the flywheel isn't a hindrance to response. He's not wrong and it's a joy to blip the throttle to rev-match downshifts, assuming, of course, you've not pressed the Sport button to do that for you.

The manual model is lighter than the PDK by around 17kg, but it also loses the electronically controlled differential and Porsche Torque Vectoring + for simpler Porsche Torque Vectoring and a mechanical differential. You'll not care one bit, as the manual adds another, even more engaging layer, to the GT3's already immersive driving experience.

The engine and transmission are matched by a chassis, which, like everything else in the transformation from Gen I to Gen II, has been finessed to the point of perfection. The ride is so accomplished, the brakes mighty and the steering so immediate and detailed in feel and feedback that they are as defining a characteristic of the car as the new engine. The Porsche 911 GT3 is always a sensational drivers' car, but this new one takes it to new heights.

Verdict

The PDK-equipped 911 GT3 is quicker and easier to drive and live with - and we'd have one in a heartbeat. But the manual version adds to that, by being more engaging and even more thrilling as a result. It's not a dewy-eyed throwback to old-school driving, feeling utterly relevant, either, as it's totally capable and completely immersive. If you value that in your driving, then the 911 GT3 manual won't disappoint.

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 - 30 Aug 2017



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

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








 

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