By on November 2, 2009

(courtesy:wikimedia)

Quick: name a major multinational automotive motorsport series where a rear-wheel drive, naturally aspirated vehicle isn’t the dominant player in the field. Sure, there’s a turbo here and Quattro there, but the Porsche GT3’s template is the recipe for success from F1 to the 24 hours of LeMans. This simplistic design demands predictable power and handling poise, rewarding the driver with a loyal soldier who doesn’t lose steam from heat stroke, or fall to a snapped axle shaft or roasted clutch. Which is why the Porsche GT3 is an effortless street machine that’ll never miss a beat on the track.

porschegt3topSeeing is believing, and love at first sight is only the beginning. Compared to bloated muscle cars, Godzilla GT-Rs and overwrought Ferraris, the current 911 is tribute to Porsche’s finest forefathers. It’s a tradition of continuous improvement while remembering where you came from. More to the point, the GT3 is cut from the same cloth. Beetle-like front projectors, voluptuous fenders, tall greenhouse and low beltline are both classic and contemporary in execution. And the roof’s gentle teardrop curvature works nicely with acres of tumblehome: all harmonizing with the anti-riceboy sweeps of the GT3’s dual plane rear spoiler. Aside from the immature smile on the front bumper’s face, this car has all the right lines in the right places.

Inside is more of the same story, except there’s less. As in no vestigial back seat, a feature not missed given Porsche’s top drawer carpeting and seamless interior design. The standard buckets have suede inserts to do the body hugging thing right, yet accommodate a variety of Yankee-posteriors with ease. The other race ready touch points (steering wheel and shifter) ditch their slippery leather coverings for more suede: paired with racing gloves, the GT3 provides a Velcro-like surface to help drivers focus on—wait for it–driving. Wow.

But there’s still room for improvement. By name and price tag alone, the GT3 is a poseur magnet: but even wannabes know sunroofs have no place on a serious track machine. Yet the Navigation with Sport Chrono package gives a host of track and road trip worthy functions that are worth every penny. porschegt3rear

All of which disappears into nothingness when the business of driving ensues. The GT3’s rousing engine note demands silence from the cabin, with an angry, camshaft-dominating burble you can’t duplicate in a boosted 911. Let the clutch out, slowly build some revs and feel a car that’s as pure to drive as a Boxster, but pulls with all the veracity of a turbocharged boxer. Enjoy the perfectly weighted steering unmarred by power delivery duties, linear stoppers, a reasonably quiet ride and delightful engine bark at civilized speeds: even the race ready GT2 can’t match the smooth, consistent mannerisms of the GT3.

But this so isn’t a Boxster. Fast sweepers become tests of will and life insurance policies, as the GT3’s boundless grip and flat cornering create overconfident drivers like beer muscles on bad boy wannabe. It’ll happen to the best, considering the engine’s seamless thrust and baby powder smooth, quick ratio gearbox. Exit a corner, blip the throttle for a quick downshift, and power through the VarioCam’s 8000 rpm redline.

So let’s get serious. Drop the clutch and feel the GT3’s moderate low end torque, face-planting midrange and sternum-compressing top end. Goodness, this car just keeps revving and revving. Grab the suede shifter for another hit of Zuffenhausen’s hot sauce: keep the speed on, change it up with effortless straight line braking and then grab a lower gear, powering out the apex with ease.

Perhaps the GT3 makes performance driving too easy: the symphony of engine sounds, fragrant fabrics, Renaissance artist worthy controls and the ability to blur the scenery in a few seconds means there’s far too much gratification available from a single automobile. Yet, my time with the Porsche Gporschegt3trackT3 was all for not. Driving at 8/10ths is an insult to this car’s potential: unfortunately there wasn’t a racetrack in sight.

Pity that. If only there was a road course to pit the 3100lb GT3 against the other all-motor heavyweight, the 3200lb Corvette Z06. The GT3’s stunning Pirelli PZero rubber aside, the General’s long forgotten mega-horse monster is still a credible threat to Porsche’s finest: run both on race tires and things might get real ugly, real fast. Then again, the bargain basement Z06 is approachable for good reason: there isn’t a single serrated edge on the GT3. Once again, the Porsche justifies its premium.

But few Porkers come along with this much grunt, sans power robbing all-wheel drive and forced induction’s delayed gratification. The Porsche 911 GT3 is a sports car in the purist sense, providing confident understatement and manhandle-free performance in any driving condition. It’s the pure-ist Porsche, pure and simple.

[Motorwerks of Houston provided the vehicle reviewed]

Performance 5/5

You can never have enough power, but this one’s got enough.

Ride 4/5

Reasonably calm, quiet and collected on the street.

Handling 5/5

And it might be the best in the world.

Exterior 5/5

If a regular 911 is dull, this is good taste’s upper limit of good taste.

Interior 5/5

Porsche perfection with a kick of suede for extra comfort.

Fit and Finish 5/5

Insert a blanket statement on German Engineering here.

Toys 4/5

Navigation, Bluetooth, Sport Chrono and the make for Track and Street perfection.

Desirability 4/5

A little pricey, but rich people don’t exactly lust for a Z06.

Mileage: 14/21

Price as Tested: $115,170

Overall 5/5

Perfect on the track, perfect enough on the street. Which is perfect.

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48 Comments on “Review: Porsche GT3...”


  • avatar
    SheriffBooth

    No interior photos?

  • avatar
    twotone

    Very nice car — I’d love to have one on track day.

    For that money, however, my dollars would buy an M3 for the street and a Caterham R500 for the track with money left over to drive and maintain both for several years. The Caterham is tough to beat on a tight track, even for the GT3.

    Twotone

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    The R500 will beat the GT-3 on pretty much any track, most of them, anyway.

    I am a bit surprised about the 5/5 for exterior, interior and fit and finish. Certainly does not match any 997GT3 I’ve ever seen – and there are plenty in London. Nor does it correspond to the experiences of the few friends that have / had them.

  • avatar
    imag

    That entire first paragraph and more than one of the sentences that follow describe *any* rear wheel drive car. I mean, it’s not like the Porsche is alone there. And for the record, most motorsports racing uses NA rear wheel drive because the rules mandate it, not because it’s faster. I happen to prefer rear wheel drive and NA motors myself, but I don’t try to justify it by pretending it would be the ultimate racer’s choice. And while Porsche have done an admirable job making the rear-engine format handle, that configuration is distinctly *not* the choice any other motorsports groups.

    And sorry, but for the price of the GT3, the ZR1 is the bargain basement competition, not the Z06. And I think the ZR1 would have to take the 5/5 in the Performance category over the GT3. The R8, a great car, isn’t even mentioned on the higher side, although it would at least come with “options” like interior matched floor mats that Porsche leaves off the $112K GT3.

    Look, I’m fine with people preferring certain cars over others; car people have passions, and that’s a good thing. But for a site that consistently harps on other reviewers’ biases to release such a fanboy review is inexcusable. 5/5 for exterior? Do you really think the GT3 looks better than an AM Vantage? Or a Scuderia? The Porsche’s handling is the best in the world? What about a Caterham CSR? Or Porsche’s own Cayman S? Or a Lotus Exige? I hear the LF-A is quite something.

    It’s like the only expensive cars you guys ever drove is a Porsche, so you use them to beat up on every car more expensive (Ferrari) or every car less expensive (370Z with automatic and no sport package). I really used to like the reviews here – they contained a lot of description of the experience of the car, and usually provided a pointed angle that was elevated above PR gushing.

    And I’m sorry to criticize you, Sajeev. I like a lot of what you have written, and I know you guys write for free. But this review should be redone and re-released, in my humble opinion. Since I doubt that will happen, carry on…

  • avatar
    John R

    “…all harmonizing with the anti-riceboy sweeps of the GT3’s dual plane rear spoiler.”

    I like this car, but I become more irritated when I hear things like this.

    I can’t recall how many times I read a review, article, post, whatever about a Japanese sports car with even the mildest spoiler and the writer screams, RICE! Despite it being functional 9 times out of 10. However, when Porsche does it, it is some how okay. The spoiler on some 911s dwarf some others but they never, ever catch flak for it.

    Can some one explain this to me? Oh, and please save the “Well…it’s a Porsche” clap trap.

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    A major multinational automotive motorsport series where a rear-wheel drive, naturally aspirated vehicle isn’t the dominant player in the field?

    That would be the World Rally Championship.

  • avatar

    imag : I really used to like the reviews here – they contained a lot of description of the experience of the car, and usually provided a pointed angle that was elevated above PR gushing.

    And here I thought I’d take a lot of flack for mentioning that the $70k Z06 would destroy the GT3 if both sat on the same tires! Problem is, the GT3 is such a finesse player that it really makes the entire car look and feel awesome. Tough to quantify, too bad you weren’t in there with me.

    ————–

    another_pleb : That would be the World Rally Championship.

    Busted! Nicely done.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    John R:

    If your biplane wing is attached to a 1995 Civic DX, it’s RICE.

    If it’s attached to a GT3, it’s there to keep it from flying.

    Difference noted.

  • avatar
    imag

    Sajeev:

    “You can never have enough power, but this one’s got enough.” (written to deflect criticism more than anything else)

    “Handling… might be the best in the world.” (Really? Why?)

    “If a regular 911 is dull, this is good taste’s upper limit of good taste.” (Umm… okay)

    “Porsche perfection with a kick of suede for extra comfort.” (Sorry, but the Cayman interior is anything but “perfection”)

    “Insert a blanket statement on German Engineering here.” (Coupled with a 5/5, presumably that means German Engineering is da bomb. I seem to remember that the Japanese had to teach Porsche how it could be done.)

    And I just have to say, the “symphony of engine sounds” does not come close to the elegance of the R8, the pitch-perfect AM Vantage, or the glorious splendor of the LS9 in the ZR1. In that market segment, the GT3, nice though it is, is outclassed.

    In other words, a single recognition of the fact that a 70K Z06 (or GT-R, for that matter) is faster does not a pointed review make. It’s fine to get suckered in by cars – we are in an era of greats, whether people want to admit it or not – but if you’re writing a review for a site known for seriously excellent reviews, I think it should contain a bit more insight. The review right now reads as:

    OMFG THIS IS THE BEST CAR EVAR*

    *Note that the Z06, $40-50K cheaper, is faster.

    I know you can do better. I wouldn’t have written if this was on AutoBlog.

    • 0 avatar
      bollocks

      I think some of you are being too hard on Sajeev.  Until a few years ago, I never understood why people went gaga over the 911.  It’s archaic.  It’s not particularly handsome.  And it generally loses the stats war against competition that is far less expensive.

      When I had the opportunity to drive my first 911, I was not expecting much.  It was a 1990-ish Carrera 4 Cab; not exactly the fastest 911 in the stable.  A quick glance about the interior lowered my expectations even further; this was an old car decades before it was built, and time (and its owner) had not been kind to it.  I tried to remember some of the “road test” articles I had read about this car; 250hp, barely 0.8G lateral acceleration; quarter mile in maybe 15 seconds.  My Accord should be faster.  An over-priced, under-steering pig is what I thought I’d get.  Yet, within minutes of strapping myself in, I started to “get” it.  

      I have driven faster cars.  I have driven cars with more grip.  I have done the country road thing with far more sophisticated pieces of machinery than this.  I have driven some pretty serious (albeit front-drive) race cars.  But I have never felt as connected to a car as I felt with that 911.  The boxer sounds, the “every grain of sand” steering feel, and the understanding that you could push as far as you wanted to, as long as you didn’t mind getting bitten in the ass once in awhile.  This, remember, in an early 90′s Carrera 4, with all-season tires that had seen better days.  Not exactly an ideal representative for the brand.

      That old Carrera 4 taught me why so many people were willing to spend thousands upon thousands more for a car that didn’t come close to a Vette in terms of measurable performance.  Given that this new GT3 is leagues and leagues ahead of that old C4Cab, I’m not disturbed in the least about Sajeev’s gushing review.  Truly excellent cars will have that effect on otherwise subjective people.  And that’s the whole point about being a car guy, isn’t it?  Find the car that does this to you and you’ll “get it” too.

  • avatar
    Piste

    Imag: “Insert a blanket statement on German Engineering here.” (Coupled with a 5/5, presumably that means German Engineering is da bomb. I seem to remember that the Japanese had to teach Porsche how it could be done.)”

    No, the Japanese taught them how to mass produce vehicles cheaply. Hence the oft whined about similarities between the Boxster and the same generation 911.

    People think they can have an affordable Porsche with absolute world class everything, and complain about the Boxster’s quality. Truth is the Boxster (and thus the Japanese manufacturing methods) saved Porsche.

  • avatar
    imag

    Look, I want to clarify that I’m not asking for criticism of every car, a comprehensive listing of competitors’ assets, or for a bunch of stat racing. That’s what we can – and will – do in the comments.

    But reviews that only serve to incite drooling should be the realm of the PR lackeys like AB and (generally) MotorTrend. Reviews here should bring up something we *don’t* know about the car. See Farago’s excellent encapsulation of the LS600H, which made me, and probably a few others, look at the car in a whole new light.

    I’ll admit, the review I did have to take exception to was the assignment of the an automatic non-sport touring package to Baruth for a “370Z review”, which was just cruel and unusual punishment. The big news from that review was “Baruth likes Porsches and unfair comparisons with cars that offer similar performance at lower prices – oh, and he still hates shuffle steering”. The fact that I own a 370Z Sport (with an oil cooler for track use that cost far less than wheel paint on a Cayman) shows my own bias. That said, while I didn’t expect Jack to like the Z, I did think the car was worth an even playing field with the objects of his adoration.

    Anyway, this is just my push for TTAC to maintain reviews that are a cut above the average. Judging by the comments at Farago’s announced departure, I’m not the only one who started coming here for the reviews. I think they need some scrutiny to keep this a place worthy of its name…

  • avatar
    imag

    Piste – check the original Lexus LS. No other manufacturer was able to pull off sheet metal work like that before with consistent gapping.

    My point was that perfection should not be assumed because the car is a Porsche (let alone German). This review is full of truisms like:

    - German engineering means it’s good
    - The fact that it’s a Porsche means the interior is perfect
    - Rear wheel drive is the world’s choice

    Each of those has vast areas of exception.

  • avatar
    Piste

    Imag – I think Sajeev’s point was that the quality of this car meets the stereotypical expectation of German quality.

    My ’72 Mercedes 280SE 4.5 begs to differ with your panel gapping. But if you’re refering to consistent, mass produced quality then your point is well made.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    By then end of this review, you were you blowing the exhaust pipe. Your sole critique is that assholes buy it. Is the car perfect? And would you really prefer it to that overwrought 430 Scuderia?

    The ratings only make sense if the benchmark for comparison was the previous GT3. Sure it’s ugly and rides like a washboard, but that’s par for Porsche’s course. The last car to make five stars for Toys was a Lincoln that parked itself. Is navigation all it takes for Porsche? Where’s the Nissan’s dash playstation or the Corvette’s HUD?

    Were there ever a company benefiting from preconceptions, Porsche would top the heap. Sometimes I think they manufacture brand aura in snortable powder to hand out to journalists before giving the keys. Seriously, just drive the car and report back. You don’t have to wax poetic about the voluptuous fenders.

    Personally, I think Porsche is a house of cards. VW is about to move the lineup downmarket with Cayenne derivatives. The reliability of almost every model has been lackluster, so they’re no bargain on the used market. Porsche hasn’t a clue where to move the 911′s styling, which is why they’ve all looked the same since 1999, and they won’t touch the ass-engined layout, so they’ll continue to lose to Ferrari in every comparison. And where Porsche was once unique to have streetable performance cars, I can’t think of any reason to prefer a 911 to an Audi R8.

    What you call continuous improvement, I call stagnation. Porsche has been resting on its laurels for years. Sooner or later, the competition will crash the party on those staggering profit margins.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Piste:

    Hey, I’ve got one of those as well! I have to agree on the panel gaps, and also the general engineering.

    Inherited from my wife’s grandmother, baby blue with 45k on the clock

  • avatar
    Spitfire

    The review lacks all the wonderful detail of the experience, or any insightful oddities the car has.

    The reason Porsches have been guilty of such massive rear spoilers is because its part of how you get a 66% rear weight bias car to not spin itself right into the giggleweed.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    Well, in addition to the WRC, I’m calling Sajeev on the 24 Hour of LeMans. Top dog at the LeMans for the past decade has been LMP-1 class turbodiesels. The last naturally aspirated LMP to win the LeMans was a Bentley, about 10 years ago. Otherwise, Audi TDIs own the show.

    The reason that F-1 cars don’t use force induction has less to do with it being wrong template so much as race organizers deliberately trying to keep the speed down. There was a time in the 80s when F-1 cars with forced induction were generating over 1100 bhp.

  • avatar
    John R

    @Zarba

    Fairly obvious. Still doesn’t answer my question. I’m referring to reviews of NISMO Zs and GT-Rs where that infernal reference of your Civic is lobbed at those machines but is not so at Porsches.

  • avatar
    John R

    @Zarba

    Fairly obvious. Still doesn’t answer my question. I’m referring to reviews of NISMO Zs and GT-Rs where that infernal reference of your Civic is lobbed at those machines but is not so at Porsches.

  • avatar

    John R : Fairly obvious. Still doesn’t answer my question. I’m referring to reviews of NISMO Zs and GT-Rs where that infernal reference of your Civic is lobbed at those machines but is not so at Porsches.

    The Porsche spoiler is shaped to look “tucked in” at the corners, it’s curves (i.e. the cross section) compliment that 911-trademark greenhouse tumblehome. Even the overall length is tucked in to harmonize with the strong shoulder-line of the rear quarter panels.

    Again…just an opinion, but there is nothing ricey about this spoiler. And I don’t think the NISMOs come close.

  • avatar
    imag

    Piste – I was referring to the compound transitions those lines take while maintaining gapping.

    Your Mercedes does indeed have good panel gapping, but to do it, designers relied upon straight lines or simple curves. The Lexus had a three dimensional curve between the front fender and the hood. Because the hood and fenders were generally fabricated separately, executing that kind of detail was unheard of at the time.

  • avatar

    I feel like I have read this before. Was this posted a few weeks back without pictures?

  • avatar
    RichardD

    Late to the comments, but the only reason F1 teams and other race series don’t use awd is that awd is banned. E.g., after the Lotus 56 took the pole and almost won Indy, USAC banned awd. Trans-Am banned awd after Audis dominated in the late 80s.

    Audi used to have great ads about awd being banned in motorsport. Ah, here it is (I love the internet, I haven’t seen this since it was on television):
    http://www.kewego.com/video/iLyROoaft-Qr.html

  • avatar
    saponetta

    Awesome review, awesome car. Some people just will never understand the 911 and thats ok. People really don’t cross shop this car to the z06. I believe porsche to vette shoping ends at boxster vs corvette convertible in the real world.

    Sajeev, I’m suprised your review didn’t mention the bump to 3.8 litres. In my opinion that is the most significant new thing about the updated model. Again, Porsche’s steady and sure evolution never disappoints. the 996 gt3 was a great car, but its a peaky, stiff riding track day special compared to the 997.1 gt3. I haven’t driven the new car, but I’m sure its even more dual purpose now that porsche added PASM.

  • avatar
    probert

    I blew by a porsche the other day in my 86 mr2. The guy was on a cell phone and driving like a drunk cab driver – I win. So much for engineering.

    I don’t know what the Japanese taught the Germans but I do think they taught the world how to make superbly engineered (as opposed to over engineered) cars for the average person.

    If you pay 100,000 and it’s good – yeah so? If you pay 20,000 and you’re blasting around in bliss – that’s beauty.

    I was talking to a guy who’s just bought a boxter and he was getting smug- i said the mr2 was $1500.00 on ebay and i just drove it across the continent. He was quiet.

    Oh, and Porsche got his initial ideas from Tatra – which is Czech. (As in ass engined Czechoslovakian slot car)

  • avatar
    Antone

    I think Sajeev was writing the emotional sense of occasion that the 911 is great (GT3 even better) at giving. Are they over price? Yes. Do most buyers care about the price? No.

    Porsche is very very very good at giving the driver a very distinct feel, independent of relative speed. The GT3 is that turned up to 11.

    Yes other cars go “faster” cheaper but to me it’s not just about the amount of speed it’s the overall feel.

  • avatar

    Okay, I have a little more time to explain/refute myself, so here goes:

    ————————–
    mag : Reviews here should bring up something we *don’t* know about the car. See Farago’s excellent encapsulation of the LS600H, which made me, and probably a few others, look at the car in a whole new light.

    Since it’s a 911 with a high HP motor and RWD only, there’s not much of a “new light” I can shed on this track beast. (Maybe because it’s a track beast that I had no choice but to drive on the street.)

    ————————–
    mag: That said, while I didn’t expect Jack to like the Z, I did think the car was worth an even playing field with the objects of his adoration.

    He also mentioned BMWs and the rarely mentioned fact that Corvettes are the best performance value on the market: bar none. Personally, I think Z owners are lucky Baruth didn’t go for the jugular and drive an $15,000 C5 (with non-OEM tires) right before a 370Z. It would be a bloodbath.

    ————————–
    Mag: Anyway, this is just my push for TTAC to maintain reviews that are a cut above the average. Judging by the comments at Farago’s announced departure, I’m not the only one who started coming here for the reviews. I think they need some scrutiny to keep this a place worthy of its name…

    This car hits too many good buttons to get nailed. Sorry, that’s how it goes.

    But since you questioned my TTAC-cred, let’s do this thing: The GT3 is great. So great that GM needs to be as “smart” as this car, then there’d be no need for a Death Watch. I could have easily turned a GT3 review into a “Why GM sucks for not updating the Z06 with ZR1 parts” rant. Because if the GT3 gets PASM, the Z06 deserves Magnaride.

    You may not think the GT3 got the critical eye, but it did as much as possible on the street…and it’s that good, baby.

    ————————–
    imag : My point was that perfection should not be assumed because the car is a Porsche (let alone German). This review is full of truisms like…

    I agree, and I also agree that there are “areas of exception.” But not this time, because this isn’t a V6 Cayenne.

    ————————–
    KnightRT : Is the car perfect? And would you really prefer it to that overwrought 430 Scuderia?

    No and probably yes: I need to drive the Scuderia first. I know it’ll drain my wallet faster than the Porsche. I’d probably take a heads/cam Lingenfelter Z06 and destroy either of these two cars for hundreds of thousands less. WIN.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/chevrolet-corvette-z06-lpe/

    ————————–
    KnightRT : The ratings only make sense if the benchmark for comparison was the previous GT3. Is navigation all it takes for Porsche? Where’s the Nissan’s dash playstation or the Corvette’s HUD?

    I compared it to other pure track machines, but you have a GREAT point: Sport Chrono is damn cool, but not 5-star cool. Maybe 4 stars compared to the C6 and GT-R.

    ————————–
    KnightRT : …there ever a company benefiting from preconceptions, Porsche would top the heap. Sometimes I think they manufacture brand aura in snortable powder to hand out to journalists before giving the keys.

    Porsche doesn’t hand me keys to squat, manufacturers don’t do jack for me. And unless you’ve driven cars like the GT3, how would you know the difference between preconceptions and reality? Maybe I could learn something from you.

    ————————–
    KnightRT: Seriously, just drive the car and report back. You don’t have to wax poetic about the voluptuous fenders.

    Not a chance in hell, buddy. The years of Art and Industrial Design never left me. Perhaps you missed the large chunk of the review that wasn’t concerned with styling?

    ————————–
    KnightRT: Personally, I think Porsche is a house of cards. VW is about to move the lineup downmarket with Cayenne derivatives. The reliability of almost every model has been lackluster, so they’re no bargain on the used market.

    If their reliability is bad, their value would tank like a Kia. Granted, I don’t think their reliability is good, but their build quality is unassailable. They have a rabidly loyal owner base that is nurtured and respected, so I don’t see this House of Cards unless everyone associated with Porsche leaves because of the regime change.

    ————————–
    KnightRT : And where Porsche was once unique to have streetable performance cars, I can’t think of any reason to prefer a 911 to an Audi R8.

    The R8 is ugly and AWD. Ugly like a Lambo that was tortured with an ugly stick type of ugly. So that’s two reasons right there.

    ————————–
    KnightRT : What you call continuous improvement, I call stagnation. Porsche has been resting on its laurels for years. Sooner or later, the competition will crash the party on those staggering profit margins.

    Good luck with your demise of a cultural icon with legions of followers. I want the same thing for the Dallas Cowboys, but it never seems to happen. So don’t hold your breath.

    ————————–
    Spitfire : The review lacks all the wonderful detail of the experience, or any insightful oddities the car has.

    I see where you are coming from, and I wish I had more interesting things to say other than it’s a wild, unadulterated ride compared to a 911 Turbo or a GT2…and that a Z06 would kill it. But that’s about it: the car is a jewel.

    ————————–
    Spitfire: The reason Porsches have been guilty of such massive rear spoilers is because its part of how you get a 66% rear weight bias car to not spin itself right into the giggleweed.

    I’m sure it still will. Which is why, in the review, I noted my disappointment about having to drive it on the street. Total bummer.

    ————————–
    Marcus : I feel like I have read this before. Was this posted a few weeks back without pictures?

    It was accidentally published over the weekend, or so I’ve been told.

    ————————–
    RichardD : Audi used to have great ads about awd being banned in motorsport.

    I know this sounds like a load of BS backpedaling, but I wanted everyone to talk about this BECAUSE of Audi. There’s an implied segue not written in the 800 word limit: because the GT3 is a street/track type of car, how many of it’s competitors spend hours/days on roadcourses over the weekend, but don’t use the RWD/naturally aspirated layout? Sure, there are GT-Rs, Imprezas, Evos, ZR1s, 911 Turbos…but a huge chunk of grassroots racers (without corporate sponsorship) go the GT3’s drivetrain route.

    Aside from rarities like the GTO, how often do you see AWD or forced induction on a Ferrari? I think there’s a very good reason for it.

    ————————–
    saponetta : Awesome review, awesome car. Some people just will never understand the 911 and thats ok. People really don’t cross shop this car to the z06. I believe porsche to vette shoping ends at boxster vs corvette convertible in the real world.

    That’s a good point about cross shopping, mostly because a friend of mine was cross shopping a C6 Z06 to a GT3. I wasn’t feeling his love for the Z06: the dude sounded hooked on the Porsche. I don’t blame him, even though I think he’d be faster around the track in said Corvette.

    ————————–
    saponetta : Sajeev, I’m suprised your review didn’t mention the bump to 3.8 litres. In my opinion that is the most significant new thing about the updated model. Again, Porsche’s steady and sure evolution never disappoints. the 996 gt3 was a great car, but its a peaky, stiff riding track day special compared to the 997.1 gt3. I haven’t driven the new car, but I’m sure its even more dual purpose now that porsche added PASM.

    Yes! PASM is awesome: the ride was surprisingly civilized on terrible Houston roads, very Magnaride like. I already made too many references to Porsche (as a brand, or comparing the GT3 to its boosted family members) but you are right: much like the aforementioned truisms on German engineering, there is no replacement for displacement and continuous improvement rules.

    ————————–
    probert : I blew by a porsche the other day in my 86 mr2. The guy was on a cell phone and driving like a drunk cab driver – I win. So much for engineering.

    Comparing yourself to the stereotypical Porsche douchebag? I’d consider raising your standards of road kill.

    Go to the track, and watch out for the good drivers in a $5000 Spec Miata, Porsche 911 or a C5 vette. The Miata’s engineering has you covered in the tight autocrosses, and the 911/C5 has you covered anywhere else. No matter how much money you drop in an MR2, you’ll never have a chance in hell of keeping up with them. Engineering WINS.

    ————————–
    Probert: If you pay 100,000 and it’s good – yeah so? If you pay 20,000 and you’re blasting around in bliss – that’s beauty.

    Hence why I always recommend C5 vettes to people who (claim to) want a performance car for cheap. Or C6 Z06’s for rich people. Both are way underrated in my book, even with stock tires and cam/exhausts.

  • avatar
    imag

    Sajeev: If you think the AW11 MR2 doesn’t have good engineering on its side, I have to be frank: you don’t know what you’re talking about. The car was designed in close partnership with Lotus (rumor is that it was originally intended to sell as a Lotus, but the design got handed to Toyota). Put $5K in an AW11, which would include a boosted 3SGTE swap, brakes, suspension, and a cage, and it will dismantle a Spec Miata on track or autocross.

    As for the used ‘vette comparison – that’s apples to oranges. Everyone knows that cars used, especially ones that someone else dumped a bunch of money into, will be cheaper performance bargains. In fact, the best bargains come in the form of used Porsches, because you can never recoup all those overpriced options (and maybe because people worry about those German-engineered shaft support bearings). My point is, if you have to resort to bringing up used cars when reviewing new, you have lost. And it doesn’t change the fact that TTAC reviewed the wrong car and used it to justify unfair statements within days of calling out Car and Driver for a much milder faux pas.

    A final note on the used C5 comparison: I’ve actually owned a Corvette, and the bloodbath is in the ownership, when all those shoddy interior bits come off in your hand, and the car needs work every other month. I wish it weren’t true, and maybe it’s less true now, but I couldn’t trust GM to build a rattle-free car that I would actually want to keep owning after two years. Their track record isn’t there. That’s the reason for the Deathwatch. I suppose at least ‘vettes cost less to fix than Porsches when they go in…

    Last: I’m sure the GT3 is a killer car. I actually like the look of them (although the Aston is in another realm entirely), and I would have loved to be able to be you in the review rather than me reading. But perspective is important in a good review. Even if your perspective was “to an ordinary person, this is glorious”. False perspective doesn’t count; if you haven’t driven a Scuderia then you shouldn’t rip it down. You never know – it might completely reset your thoughts about how the world’s best handling car can drive. And likewise, it’s better if you don’t call out the AW11 before doing your homework.

    Note: this is in response to comments by Sajeev that don’t seem to be appearing here anymore.

  • avatar

    imag : Sajeev: Put $5K in an AW11, which would include a boosted 3SGTE swap, brakes, suspension, and a cage, and it will dismantle a Spec Miata on track or autocross.

    I see your point. But in that case, put $5k in an LS-1 swap for a Miata and it’ll destroy the MR2. Its not that the MR2 has bad engineering (because it does NOT) I just don’t want to hear TTAC commentators saying their $1500 MR2 is better than a Porsche because of those particular circumstances. All of the cars mentioned here have excellent engineering.

    ——————-
    My point is, if you have to resort to bringing up used cars when reviewing new, you have lost.

    Another good point. So let’s only talk C6 Vette instead. The only kicker is that the C5 is still so damn good after all these years. Maybe that’s not worth mentioning in a new car review, but I went there. Oops. :)

    ——————-

    A final note on the used C5 comparison: I’ve actually owned a Corvette, and the bloodbath is in the ownership, when all those shoddy interior bits come off in your hand, and the car needs work every other month.

    My brother’s had several, so have friends and neighbors. If your Vette truly needed work every other month, you need to find another mechanic. I’ve seen 10-20 durable C5s in the flesh, and the one I hammered at Texas World Speedway last year had no problem with it, even though it had a few miles on it and a big honkin’ procharger under the hood.

    ——————-
    I suppose at least ‘vettes cost less to fix than Porsches when they go in…

    Although I only somewhat agree with that, your statement should be engraved in stone somewhere. Maybe the Corvette Museum has some space.

    ——————-
    Last: if you haven’t driven a Scuderia then you shouldn’t rip it down. You never know – it might completely reset your thoughts about how the world’s best handling car can drive.

    Please tell me how I ripped the Scuderia, aside from mentioning its insane cost of ownership. I’ve driven an F430, and I assume the Scuderia will be amazing. But it’s a safe bet that the Lingenfelter Z06 will cream any of these cars on it’s tires, motor and chassis alone.

    ——————-
    And likewise, it’s better if you don’t call out the AW11 before doing your homework.

    Again, I didn’t call out the car…I called out the statement that involved said car. I’d love to see an MR2 go up against Spec Miatas, even if it does lose, I doubt it will be by much.

  • avatar
    imag

    Okay, now this is just devolving. If the following statement:

    “No matter how much money you drop in an MR2, you’ll never have a chance in hell of keeping up with them. Engineering WINS.”

    …is not calling out a car, or saying it has poor engineering, then I don’t know what to say. And though you may have missed it, I believe the original poster there was pretty clearly talking about value.

    I look forward to reading your next review…

  • avatar
    ajla

    @Sajeev:

    C5 Z06> C4 LT4> Firebird Firehawk> basic C5

  • avatar
    saponetta

    I don’t understand why every porsche review has to turn into car x, y, and z being a better perfomance bargain. Better yet, i’ll dump 5 grand into my 25 year old jap rust bucket and beat car x,y,z.

    The c5 had fantastic grip and power for the time when it was new. But it was not a particularly great driving car. The c6 is more of the same only to todays standards. And i’m not sure were the notion of vette ownersip was so affordable compared to a porsche. Corvettes are not cheap to repair when you have problems. The 911 in general is a very reliable car. Most problems in recent years have always been covered by porsche. In fact, there is NO manufacturer who shows as much goodwill to customers out of warranty. I know quite a few very happy and now loyal porsche owners who purchased their cars used and form private parties who porsche helped by participating in expensive repairs and engine replacments. Corvettes are just as hard on tires as a 911. Brake work is high on a vette compared to a 911. That definatly adds up if you do a lot of drivers education or track days. I’ve never owned a corvette, but insurance was higher for me on a vette than my carrera S. Look at percentages, the vette depreciates A LOT more than a 911.

    Finally, as much as most people won’t admit. these cars are about style and status as well. It is important. It is important how the car feels, but its also important how the car makes oyu feel. If this wasn’t the case, everyone would drive the mr2 above with 5k in modifications. The porsche is and always will be more exclusive than the vette. You really do feel special in a 911.

  • avatar
    imag

    saponetta: I totally hear your point, and I think you’re absolutely right. 911s are great cars – you can take them from the showroom floor to the track. They also offer prestige for some people that is worth the price.

    My personal feeling, and I know it’s just that, is that if I were to drop over $100K on a car, I would want it to feel more… special somehow. 911s are a dime a dozen around here (and I know, it’s because they’re great), which makes it difficult for some of us to get that excited. That said, the only one that gets me interested is the GT3 – I love the detailing and the roll cage, etc. I still just don’t think I’d bring myself to do it. Some of us are offended by the spirit value Porsche uses as a baseball bat on its pricing, and I just would have to keep thinking of the nice new car collection I could get for the price (aforementioned CSR included).

    That said, if this is anyone’s dream car, I can totally understand why, especially if you’re into the heritage, etc. Personally, I like to celebrate the options we have – $1500 MR2s, $30K new sports cars that rival exotics of 15 years ago without the hassle, $120K GT3s, and even the always absurd but truely spiritual value of a Ferrari. We have some of the best cars ever built available to us, and that’s pretty darned cool.

  • avatar

    imag :“No matter how much money you drop in an MR2, you’ll never have a chance in hell of keeping up with them. Engineering WINS.”

    …is not calling out a car, or saying it has poor engineering, then I don’t know what to say.

    Looks like I screwed the pooch on that one. I blame it on my recent experience with failing MR2s (which always seem to fail) at the 24hrs of LeMons, and not remembering it has little relevance to a MR2 that’s in much better shape. That’s what happens when you write too quickly.

    And though you may have missed it, I believe the original poster there was pretty clearly talking about value.

    No, it sounds like he thought the MR2s engineering was better than a Porsche…even at 20-something years of age and $1500 capital investment. Again, referencing the MR2′s performance in LeMons.

  • avatar
    imag

    We’re really just trying to keep you on your toes Sajeev. If the interwebs are good for one thing, it’s nitpicking, especially on a site that specializes in picking nits…

  • avatar

    No worries, I enjoy in this back and forth. Even when I put my foot in my mouth. Always have, because TTAC became much cooler once we started a reader comments section. (Yes, I’ve been here for a rather long time.)

    That said, somebody please donate an aluminum radiator and a fresh water pump to your local MR2 contingency at the 24 Hrs of LeMons. Cars like the MR2 should do well in “vintage” enduro racing, but 3-series BMWs win more often than not. Which kinda blows me away…but that does go to the “German Engineering” Truism.

  • avatar
    Thinx

    I love the 911 and its variants, great car, simple platform and all that – but for about the last ten years give-or-take, the price has gotten seriously out of hand. 911′s used to be the _affordable_ everyday supercars – a little premium priced, but still quite affordable.

    The serial-bubbles (tech, real-estate, bankster, …) since 1997 have really pushed the price up past the point where “affordable” no longer applies, the “everyday” is questionable (again due to price) and the “supercar” is almost meaningless.

    Here’s to hoping the long overdue crash comes soon, so that things get back to normal and your average enthusiast can stretch a little and get into something like this again.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Antone :
    November 3rd, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I think Sajeev was writing the emotional sense of occasion that the 911 is great (GT3 even better) at giving. Are they over price? Yes. Do most buyers care about the price? No.

    LOL, the CEO of Porsche must have the easiest job on planet. (Assuming the margin of a 911 is 30%), he could double the company’s profit by simply raising the price by 30% next year.

  • avatar
    rcolayco

    Oh for heaven’s sake, let’s talk actual experience and not theory based on what the magazines or our friends say.

    I own both a 997GT3 and a C6Z06, and I drive both regularly on the road as well as on the street.

    I enjoy both. But the GT3′s just that much nicer to drive, full stop. The Z06 is much more powerful and therefore accelerates stronger, but that’s not everything that makes a car a pleasure to drive.

    And if you’re talking about driving for pleasure as opposed to using the car as an appliance to get from point a to b, then leave price out as a factor to evaluate the cars.

    I have to acknowledge, though, that a Caterham or Exige is better to drive on a tight course. So you need to have either if you like tight courses.

    But what Sajeev’s saying is that the GT3 is one hell of a car to drive because of its almost unique mix of qualities.

    All this based on actual experience, not conjecture.

  • avatar

    The GT3′s interior is nothing special. And when you drive one you have the sneaking suspicion that a Cayman GT3, if it was built, would just be a much better car.

    This is pure fanboy review. Desirability is only high for car enthusiasts, nobody else cares about the difference between this and a base 911. Fit and finish? I’d take a ruler to the gaps on any Porsche, but I’d be afraid of losing it in there. The GT3 is a world class car, but it just isn’t quite as superlative as you made it out to be.

  • avatar
    imag

    Sajeev,

    Thought you would appreciate this:

    http://www.insideline.com/chevrolet/corvette/2009/aston-martin-v12-vantage-vs-audi-r8-fsi-vs-chevrolet-corvette-zr1-vs-porsche-911-gt3.html

    Long story short, IL opts for the GT3 above the R8, ZR1, and (barely) the V12 Vantage.

  • avatar

    akatsuki : This is pure fanboy review. Desirability is only high for car enthusiasts, nobody else cares about the difference between this and a base 911.

    EXACTLY. Who in their right mind buys a stripped down 911 for considerably more than the street going variety? Porsche fanbois, Porsche wannabe fanbois, and guys who put a lot of miles on a racecourse in any comparable vehicle.

    Don’t fit in that category? I guarantee you’ll enjoy re-reading my Camry LE review because it was that good. :-)

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Nice review. I appreciate your appreciation of engine simplicity – well, sans forced induction, anyway.

    P.S: I think the expression is "all for naught".

  • avatar
    Mjolnir

    Geesh. It’s Porsche’s magnum opus for a semi-competition car – though some could argue the GT2 – and apparently some don’t get it. Fine. It’s not for you. It’s hot, it’s hard, it’s loud. It’s made for me. Except I’ve not got the coin to secure one.

    NO other car has the COMPETITION HERITAGE that the 911 has and THAT ALONE makes it the epitome of the breed of cars designed to “win on Sunday, drive ‘em quickly on Monday”.

    It’s “perfect” – for me. Well, it also could be made of “unobtainium” and weigh just 2,650 lbs. Then I COULD (more like SHOULD) be worth $385 million euros, too, I guess…

    Phenomenal car. Best of them all if you ask my opinion.

    Oh, the sound: Yes, I think it’s “the best” sounding of the current crop of “go fast” machinery available – including the Corvette and Scuderia. The Vette’s exhaust sounds rather contrived to me and the Scuderia and 430 and 360 is a bit “flat” (pun intended) with it’s seemingly single harmonic shriek which does raise the hackles on the living.

    Inside of the passenger compartments of these vehicles they can sound better. Or worse. Depending on how the engineers derived their sound: Air Induction or Tailpipe dominance. I, like Porsche, Ferrari and Honda, prefer a very healthy dose of Induction Sound. In this way cruising at part throttle is very tolerable; crack open the throttle and you ‘crack’ in engine combustion pulses.

    The F430 and Scuderia (definitely) must not pass Legal Passby. I say this because they are loud cruising and very much so under throttle (though it sounds like my Integra Type R from inside which is no bad thing, mind you; just familiar).

    One thing I like about the GT3 and GT2 sound is that it is eerily reminiscient of the Porsche 911s I’ve witnessed at Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, Daytona and LeMans. There is HISTORY there. A history that was unfortunately missing with the Ford GT (should have had a large displacement (say, 6.0L or greater) normally aspirated V8.

    Godspeed!

    Chui

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Okay, I’ll bite.
      First off, you’re right.  I, and many of us, don’t believe that a car is a dog or a horse.  Pedigree in machines is a fabrication, created by marketing departments to sell product.  The reality of machines is that one machine is either better or worse than the one next to it in one or more ways.  Evolution in cars does exist, but only to serve the means of improvement.  I will grant that, if it were the exact same car, I would prefer to own a vehicle badged as an Aston Martin than one badged as a Hyundai.  But the truth is, if the machine is better, it is better, regardless of history.  This is the truth about cars after all, – I would hope that we would look past the marketing and faux-mythology to the machine underneath.
      The part I don’t understand is your insinuation that Porsche has history above all.  Even if pedigree is important, I cannot imagine how you think that Porsche’s pedigree is superior to Ferrari or Jaguar, let alone Mercedes, Audi, or even Honda.  All have won great championships; all have fielded world-beating race cars.  It also seems strange to cut down the Ford GT for its modern motor – Ford does not even have an appropriate big block; it would have taken an entire development process to create an inferior motor.  Ultimately, it seems like the GT pays more homage to its history than any modern supercar.
      I get that the GT3 is a great car (and I like hot, hard, and loud).  I just think there has always been, and continues to be, unjustified brand snobbery (from which Porsche and Ferrari derive a lot of money).  But remember: if Porsche people do not hold their car to a standard set by other cars, it actually will hurt Porsche.   Part of the reason GM lagged behind the Japanese was that people continued to buy GM products when they were inferior.  I think it is our duty to judge all cars fairly against the competition.  In the end, cars should always justify the badge, not the other way around.
      Anyway, this debate will always continue.  There seems to be some separation with Porsche in particular.  My own view is that non-Porsche people don’t spend enough time driving Porsches to properly appreciate them, and that Porsche people don’t spend enough time driving other cars to realize that Porsches are not the be-all end-all automobile.  Since few of us can buy one of everything, the debate will go on…
       
       
       

  • avatar
    Mjolnir

    “First off, you’re right.  I, and many of us, don’t believe that a car is a dog or a horse.  Pedigree in machines is a fabrication, created by marketing departments to sell product.  The reality of machines is that one machine is either better or worse than the one next to it in one or more ways.  Evolution in cars does exist, but only to serve the means of improvement.  I will grant that, if it were the exact same car, I would prefer to own a vehicle badged as an Aston Martin than one badged as a Hyundai.  But the truth is, if the machine is better, it is better, regardless of history.  This is the truth about cars after all, – I would hope that we would look past the marketing and faux-mythology to the machine underneath.”

    Well, Commendatore Ferrari stated that he built road cars to fund his racing pursuits. No one does this today and no one continues the dwells in the world of continuous development to the degree that Porsche does with the somewhat anachronistic 911. The motorsport activities are used for production research and development – like Honda once did with F1 engine supplying. Areas that have been improved from motorsport most recently with Porsche are aerodynamics, suspension (pick up points), an entirely new engine family (the 997 turbo Mark II has a unique engine in that the dry sump is now incorporated into the engine block and the manufacturing of the engine is now a very complex, controlled heat treat that supposedly improves strength yet reduces weight and complexity of parts; the center of gravity of the powerplant has been reduced 12 inches, remarkably, and it requires less oil capacity to maintain proper lubrication and temp control – yes, oil is a coolant, too). So the 997 turbo is 10 seconds quicker on the Nordschleife – with a more roll compliant suspension setup. The next GT2 will be a beast and the 998(?) GT3 will inherit this powerplant and should be a better handling car due to the advantages listed. The Ferrari 360/430/458(?) is continuing the very same development as the 911 and I LOVE Ferrari for taking this route. Not only do you learn some things at 10/10ths use that can make the next iteration better but it also fuels customer passion which translates to an Advertising & Marketing Department wetdream and, ultimately, customer sales.

    “The part I don’t understand is your insinuation that Porsche has history above all.  Even if pedigree is important, I cannot imagine how you think that Porsche’s pedigree is superior to Ferrari or Jaguar, let alone Mercedes, Audi, or even Honda.  All have won great championships; all have fielded world-beating race cars.”

    NO ONE has fielded production-based coupes/GT cars/sports cars for international motorsport like Porsche has and no one has had the level of success they have. Period.

    Ferrari’s bread and butter is F1. Jaguar? The cat is STILL not back (a swipe at Jacques Nassar who proclaimed – and I quote – “I am green with envy everytime I go to an F1 race and see the sea of red paying homage to Ferrari”. Get over it, Jacques. They – that is Scuderia Ferrari - EARNED it. Honda? Hell, I love Honda but GT racing? If you look at Speedvision’s series we’d be talking about the Honda/Acura Integra Type R which is certainly a phenomenally accomplished little car – I know I own one – but it’s front engined and front wheel drive and it also “is no more.” So it lacks continuity. Same with the NSX Type R – and it was never fielded in competition outside of Japan. Audi? They used to be competitive in World Rally Championship but no more and the Audi Sport Quattro died not long after it’s production. BMW and the M3 would be better but the M3 has long left motorsport dominance, unfortunately. Well, that’s not entirely true but the road car version is certainly aimed at a different crowd where sales volume will insure a healthy return on investment for the Quandt family. It’s no longer a vehicle line I covet. Too much electrickery and luxury – even in the M3.

    ” It also seems strange to cut down the Ford GT for its modern motor – Ford does not even have an appropriate big block; it would have taken an entire development process to create an inferior motor.  Ultimately, it seems like the GT pays more homage to its history than any modern supercar.”

    Well, being an ex-Ford employee I know that such an engine could have been fielded and was deemed overdue by many. And I disagree with you about a 6.0+ liter V8 would have been “inferior”. It would have been less thirsty, lighter in weight, less  complex and COULD COMPETE UNDER MODERN RULES OF FIA. Imagine that: a Ford GT racing at the 24 Hours of LeMans, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona. Hell, they could have contracted one of the many NASCAR engine builders and simply supplied the electronics and emissions development on the thing. That’s the approach I would have pursued if I were in a position to THINK about such a car. Hint: I would never have gotten rid of the pushrod V8 powerplant. Deep-skirted aluminum block, structural oil pan, etc., etc. could be used in higher end Mustangs, SVT trucks, the GT, sold in their High Performance Catalog and other specialty vehicles (police sedans, etc.) A cast iron version for the base vehicle like Crown Vics, Mustangs and SUVs. To be honest the Ford GT was too late in production. So if I were tasked with developing the car when they did I would have axed the idea. The Porsche Carrera GT styling actually pays homage to a relatively little known (outside of the diehard Porschephiles) Porsche 910. It was the precursor to the indomitable Porsche 917.

    “I get that the GT3 is a great car (and I like hot, hard, and loud).  I just think there has always been, and continues to be, unjustified brand snobbery (from which Porsche and Ferrari derive a lot of money).  But remember: if Porsche people do not hold their car to a standard set by other cars, it actually will hurt Porsche.   Part of the reason GM lagged behind the Japanese was that people continued to buy GM products when they were inferior.  I think it is our duty to judge all cars fairly against the competition.  In the end, cars should always justify the badge, not the other way around.”
     
    I discount the snobs’ opinions. Most – not all – of the exotica snobs are poseurs. They WEAR their vehicles of choice merely because they can. Likewise, many Vette, Viper and Mustang fans are prejudiced against ALL owners of exotica – AND the exotic cars – due to the high dollar price tags required to own them. I discount those guys’ opinions, too.

    I agree with you that the car should justify the badge and Porsche has not always walked on hallowed ground. The 924, the 928 (to many) and entering the SUV/SAV market is odd (and profitable, which allows for the GT cars to remain undiluted I’ll readily admit) and now the weirdly styled sedan… Grrrrrrrr.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Just happened to find this looking for reviews of the 996 GT3.

    Good God, internet enthusiasts are the worst.

    So you don’t value the opinions of the people who actually own the cars, or have a sizable level of exposure to a wide cross section of them. Lol give me a break.


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