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Porsche's heavy-hitting lightweight. Image by Antony Fraser.

Porsche's heavy-hitting lightweight
Porsche has added a new GT3 to its range, the lightweight machine delivering a pure hit of 911 intensity in a surprisingly well-rounded package. We want one so much it hurts.

 



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| First Drive | Hohenstein-Odenwaldstetten, Germany | Porsche 911 GT3 |

We're supposed to be objective and rational when we test drive new cars. With the new 911 GT3 that's proving very difficult indeed; we loved the old car and this new one is even better. It's so good we'd do almost anything to have one; if you like driving you'll love the GT3. Start saving.

In the Metal

Losing some of the 911's purity of line for effectiveness on the racetrack, the homologation-special GT3 gains plenty of body addenda to allow it to exploit the air it passes through as efficiently as possible. There's more downforce at speed now, but in reality probably of little use to you unless you're planning on racing it. As a result the GT3's look is very much function before form: the large wing at the rear and numerous slashes and holes that vent air from the rear-mounted 3.8-litre flat-six engine, the tarmac-troubling front spoiler and the cooling vents in front of the bonnet are all there for a specific reason. And that reason is going quickly, something the GT3 is very good at. That it looks so good while doing so is only a bonus.

What you get for your Money

Given the pedigree of its high-revving 435bhp 911 GT1 derived engine, the cool single-nut lightweight alloy wheels, no-cost option half roll-cage (and six-point harness, fire extinguisher and battery isolator in a box should you want them fitted), stripped down weight and quite ridiculous competence on road and track the GT3 is a veritable performance bargain.

If we had anything approaching 81,914 that Porsche asks for it we'd be down at the dealer now signing an order form. As it is we don't, but we can dream. And our perfect specification? We'd forgo the 5,677 PCCB brakes (the standard steel brakes offer more than enough stopping power), though we'd have the new front axle lifting kit. It might cost 1,939, but it will quickly pay for itself, as you'll not have to replace any lower spoilers - which are pretty much throwaway parts on the previous GT3 - if you need to negotiate a sleeping policeman. The satnav and iPod connection are a must, and while we're ticking boxes we'd have the active engine mounts, which isolate the engine more effectively and prevent it from moving around when on track.

Driving it

Although the GT3 is clearly a homologation model to allow Porsche to race the 911, the real winners are those who get to drive it on road. It's much firmer than the standard 911, but the chassis engineers have worked miracles with the ride quality, the GT3 riding with remarkable suppleness given its focus on going quickly. Press the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) button with a damper icon on it and that fluidity on the road is ruined, the firmer setting stiffening up the suspension to a point where it's severely compromised on road.

With virtually no body roll and steering that's about as quick as anything we've ever experienced this side of an actual go-kart, the 911 GT3 is sensational in the corners. You can feel the weight loading up at the front wheels through the Alcantara clad steering wheel rim, the GT3's steering sublime in its weighting, texture and accuracy. If the steering is the exemplar of the GT3's precision it's ably backed by the quick and beautifully mechanical feeling gearshift. Porsche's engineers refrained from fitting its two-pedal PDK set-up to the GT3, leaving the driver to do the driving, blipping the throttle on downshifts and wringing the 3.8-litre out as far as they like before choosing to shift up.

We dare you not to try to reach for that 8,500rpm redline every time you're in the GT3: the combination of the sensational flat-six noise resonating through the stripped-out interior and the mind-bending pace that accompanies it are utterly intoxicating. Press the Sport button and not only do you get a more muscular, menacing exhaust note, but the freer breathing engine gains some low-rev torque. Not that it needs any help, the 3.8-litre unit massively flexible regardless of revs or gear selection. Use all the GT3's potential and it'll reach 62mph in just 4.1 seconds and 193mph all out. It feels quicker, and the way it was still pulling on the autobahn at an indicated 183mph suggests that Porsche might be being a touch conservative with the GT3's figures - no need perhaps to reveal its hand to its competition.

Like its GT2 relative this GT3 comes with traction control and stability control. You'll be going hard to break traction on the road and the massive rear tyres need some real provocation to slide, but reach and breach their limits and the GT3 is remarkably friendly. That's as much to do with the huge amount of information you have at your disposal, the GT3 telegraphing exactly what it's up to and allowing you time to predict what's going on and dole out the appropriate response. A fantastically involving and exciting drive, the GT3 is about as much fun as you can have behind the wheel whether it's on road or track. It's this roundedness that makes it so exceptional among its peers.

Worth Noting

Choose the no-cost Clubsport package and you'll need to have the bits fitted after the car is delivered. That's simply to neatly bypass some legislation. Do so and you lose the usefulness of the area behind the driver and passenger seats though, the cage meaning you'll not get larger objects in there easily. That might sound odd in something so focussed, but the GT3 really is a car you could take on a golfing holiday - via a few racetracks of course.

Summary

As cars go the new 911 GT3 pretty much represents perfection for us here at Car Enthusiast. Wickedly fast, firm and extremely focussed, loaded with feel and buzzing with intensity - yet civilised when you want it to be - it's about as complete a performance car as money can buy. It's not really that expensive either - relatively speaking of course, the near 82k purchase price out of our reach for now. That's about the same as you'll pay for a Carrera 4S Cabriolet with two pedals. Shame on you if you pick that over the most thrilling, involving and visceral 911 experience money can buy.

Kyle Fortune - 24 Apr 2009









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2009 Porsche 911 specifications:
Price: 81,914 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 193mph
Combined economy: 22.4mpg
Emissions: 298g/km
Kerb weight: 1395kg

Full technical specifications

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Porsche.




2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Antony Fraser.
 

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Antony Fraser.
 

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Antony Fraser.
 

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Antony Fraser.
 

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Antony Fraser.
 

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Antony Fraser.
 

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Antony Fraser.
 

2009 Porsche 911 GT3. Image by Antony Fraser.
 






 

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