Wednesday 22nd May 2019
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Driven: Porsche 911 GT3 manual. Image by Porsche.

Driven: Porsche 911 GT3 manual
This is sports car perfection. It’s as simple as that.

 



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Porsche 911 GT3 manual

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: Every last bloody thing

Not so good: Hard to get hold of and used prices are just crazy

Key Facts

Model tested: Porsche 911 GT3 manual
Price: 911 from £77,891; GT3 manual from £111,802; car as tested £130,106
Engine: 4.0-litre flat-six petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 290g/km (VED £2,070 first 12 months, then £450 per annum years two to six of ownership, then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 21.9mpg
Top speed: 198mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 500hp at 8,250rpm
Torque: 460Nm at 6,000rpm

Our view:

I'm not a Porsche 911 evangelist. Never have been, and never thought I would be, either. Oh, sure, I've driven quite a few examples of them over the years - including a 991 Turbo S, the legendary 997 GT3 4.0 RS, a few 996s and 997s of varying types, the current Targa and, most recently, the tauter 991.2 Carrera T. And, in some instances, I've given these cars five stars; loved them, really admired their engineering genius in making their inherently flawed rear-engined layout work so beautifully with high-power motors, totally understood the appeal of them and why so many people yearn - with every fibre in their being - to one day own a 911. But, on previous occasions, having spent time with various examples of Porsche's most iconic model, once the test cars had gone back to their manufacturer I kind of cooled on them. Or, to put it another way, I didn't find myself craving another 911 hit, or scouring the classifieds to see if I could pick up an early 996 Carrera for (relative) peanuts and, in some small way, live the dream too.

That, though, was the old me. The one who hadn't driven a 991.2 GT3. Because now, like Joliet Jake at the start of the Blues Brothers, I have seen the light. Had the epiphany. Come to the realisation that I am very, very unlikely to ever drive another car that is as complete, as exceptional in every single department, as this one. A cherished manual model, the three-pedal GT3 making a return for the 991.2 facelift of the 911 as a direct result of immense fan pressure, it might not be as quick as its PDK sibling but it surely is more entertaining to drive than its automatic brother.

This latest 911 GT3 is a simply exquisite car, through and through. There's a tenet that states the 911 is at its best at its simplest - so pick a Carrera 2 for the finest rear-engined experience - but I'd argue that the GT3 is the Porsche at its purest. While it features the most impressive technology the company can cook up in the form of its 4.0-litre engine, which has features such as a hollow crank and solid mountings for the valvetrain, and there are other joys like recalibrated rear-wheel steering and its aerodynamic pack to soak in, there's a singular, reductive focus to everything else about it that permeates the car's driving manners.

Its bodywork, the same as a Carrera 4 or a super-rare 911 R, boasts just the right amount of flared aggression, whereas the 520hp GT3 RS runs the wider Turbo styling and has more in the way of slats, vents and intakes. Yet don't for a minute think the GT3 lacks presence; its centre-lock alloy wheels, that wonderful rear wing, the jutting front splitter and its low, low stance all combine to give it a sense of theatre that few other 911s - or sports cars of any ilk - can match.

Inside, it's studied minimalism, with enough toys to keep the technophiles happy (Porsche Communication Management, cruise control, climate control and more), yet the car is lacking for items like a head-up display or parking sensors or a full, overblown sound system. You'll also find the petrolheads' material of choice, Alcantara, absolutely everywhere, which only raises the pre-drive ambience to fever-pitch levels.

Options on our test car included the £336 Chrono Package, the £3,324 full bucket seats plus the £2,147 black leather interior package, Guards Red seatbelts (£194), a red 12 o'clock marking on the steering wheel (£168) and the £1,599 Front Axle Lift system, which pumps the 911's nose up for those occasions you need to get over a speed bump or into a steeply-angled driveway/car park, and you don't want to ground out the splitter. Add in the free Clubsport Package, which incorporates a roll cage in the rear, and you have a cabin which screams both 'quality' and 'intensity'.

An intensity that is matched by the utterly sublime dynamic experience the Porsche provides. Yes, we can talk about its civility: for a half-caged track animal with a full aero kit, it doesn't half drive well when all you're doing is short-shifting before 3,000rpm and 'getting from A to B'. Porsche's adjustable dampers - which can be switched between Normal and Sport - do a fine job of making the ride acceptable, but if you're expecting the sort of cosseting nature of a luxury saloon from the GT3, you're doing it all wrong. The hardcore 911's ride is always taut and controlled, a result of the car riding on 20-inch alloy wheels and its pared-back nature, and you'll experience a lot of tyre roar echoing around in that cavernous rear section of the passenger compartment.

Yet you can convince yourself you could live with this day-to-day. It's by no means unbearable and another neat trick the GT3 pulls is to make cruising along at 60mph in sixth feel a) faster than you're actually going, by dint of your low seating position and the exceptional noises the car makes, and b) thoroughly special, an experience to be savoured. You can coerce it into more than 20mpg if you drive it gently enough and using it in towns is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Of course, driving a 991.2 GT3 sedately is somewhat missing the point... and also a criminal waste of good automotive resources. So, onto the best of good news: when you do decide to take the Porsche by the scruff of the neck, the resulting driving sensations are borderline rapturous. It transmits an absolute wealth of information to its driver - both through the base of its sculpted bucket seats and via the most informative modern steering rack we've encountered - at all times, while if you only spin that 4.0 out to 5,000rpm, you still get pace to embarrass most hot hatchbacks and a noise that's insistent and hard-edged.

And then you go to 9,000rpm for the first few times, and all hope of resisting the GT3's charms is utterly lost. What. A. Noise. What an engine. What a chassis. What a car. To hear a GT3 singing from 7,000rpm round to its stratospheric redline is to hear one of the greatest man-made sounds that has ever been perceived by human ears. To call it a shriek would be unfair, because - although it is tremendously loud inside as it barrels past 6,000rpm and on towards the red paint on the dial - the noise is something you could never, ever tire of. It's magnificent. Soul-stirring. Hairs on the back of the neck stuff, and all the clichés and analogies you could fling its way. Few road-going engines we've ever heard have such a thrilling soundtrack as this.

That race-car noise - the 991.2 does sound exactly like its GT3R racing brethren at full chat, mainly because it has pretty much the same engine - only enhances the furious pace this 500hp possesses and it also cajoles you into experiencing as much of the latest 911's legendary agility as you can. In the dry, its handling is preternaturally gifted. You can feel the rear-axle steering help the Porsche scythe into corners but it's never a dominant feature of the car nor obtrusive in operation. The £6,498 Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes might seem like overkill on the roads, but they work beautifully well from cold (with only a little squeaking) and the bite they possess is ridiculous. Oh, and if you need to finesse your heel-and-toe technique, there is no finer car in the world available than the 911 GT3. Even the ham-footed, like me, can make the revs match perfectly on downshifts; indeed, even if you can't (for some strange reason) then in Sport mode the car has its own rev-matching functionality. Thank not only the brakes for the heel-and-toe goodness, but also the razor-sharp, crisply linear throttle pedal that only a big-hearted, normally-aspirated mill can provide. The much-desired manual transmission is also a peach, with a lovely, mechanical action and positive engagement of each ratio. Using it is a delight.

All of the above adds up to a car that is just exhilarating at all road speeds and in all weather conditions. There's nothing - nothing at all - about it we would change. Well, apart from maybe the crazy used car market for anything from Rennsport, which makes getting hold of a 911 GT3 for its list price of £112,000 seem like a task akin to serving up the Moon on a stick. You'll find lightly used examples of the 991.2 on the second-hand market at prices of around £150,000 to £180,000, so until the fantasy used-car bubble bursts, the ultimate Porsche for keen drivers will remain tantalising out of reach for most of us on normal salaries.

But it has made an undying convert out of me. There's no cooling of the jets this time - I am hankering after a 2018MY 911 GT3 like you wouldn't believe. So thoroughly wonderful is this example of the long-serving German sports car, so brilliant is it in every regard, that you can't fail but to revere it. In the space of a week and a mere 167 miles behind its gorgeous, thin-rimmed Alcantara wheel, the Porsche has vaulted straight into my own personal top-three cars of all time. So if, like the old me, you're a 911 Doubting Thomas, have a go in the GT3. And you'll soon realise what all the fuss is about. In manual format like this, it's probably the best driver's car ever made. Absolutely, unequivocally and utterly majestic.

Alternatives:

Audi R8 RWS: We've not driven the rear-drive RWS yet, but we are due to soon - and if it's anything like as good as the V10 plus, then the Audi will be a stunning machine.

BMW M4 GTS: Similarly focused like the Porsche and has six cylinders too, the ultimate M4 is no longer in production - and commands telephone-number used prices if you can find one.

Mercedes-AMG GT R: The week after the 911 GT3, we spent a lot of time in the 585hp AMG. Keep an eye out for the review coming soon, because the Mercedes might have pulled off the seemingly impossible...


Matt Robinson - 6 Jun 2018









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2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.

2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.








 

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