By on May 6, 2015


19 months ago, the illustrious Jack Baruth wrote a brilliant op-ed painting the Porsche faithful akin to a battered spouse in a Lifetime film about empowerment. No, the other film about empowerment. No, the one with Tiffani Amber Thiessen. No, I mean the other one with Tiffani Amber Thiessen. Nevermind, it doesn’t matter

When it comes to Porsche, I am pre-empowerment Tiffani Amber Thiessen.

I am exactly what Jack described. I sit happily behind a pair of oversized sunglasses to hide my black eye after I “walked into the door again.” The boys from Stuttgart can do little wrong in my world. Part of that is my childhood obsession with all Porsches. Mom had a 914. Risky Business and Weird Science both hit during my developmental years. Somewhere in my attic in a VHS copy of No Man’s Land and I have not suffered the infamous intermediate shaft failure in either of my 996s. I also willingly owned two 924s when I was stationed in Germany.

So when I was given the chance to drive the GT3 coaching for a “supercar on a real racetrack“ event, I was pointed west to Hallett Motor Racing Circuit in Jennings, Oklahoma before you could say “lift throttle over steer.”


D.M. Armstrong, a noted Scientific Realist, held a theory of universals that states relations can be treated just like non-relational concepts. He further asserts that relations, where the number of terms in the relation, varies across instance.

That’s right, I just went from “Fastlane” to Philosophical discussion in three paragraphs.

The notion of varied relations is key to this discussion. The slowest car available this weekend was the Corvette. The Vette is a proper grand touring coupe and unquestionably fast car. But it was an Army Ranger in a room of mostly Navy Seals. Sitting in the corner of that room is a US Air Force Pararescueman. He possesses many of the same traits of the Seals, but has a very different mission and a unique method to complete it. That is the Porsche 911 GT3.

A Barrett .50 cal in a container of HK MP5s – it is superlatively stunning in a realm of supreme machines. One of only two 6-cylinder cars in an arsenal of V8s, V10s and V12s. It was the only normally aspirated six, and at 475 ponies, one of only two cars with less than 500 horses. (The other was the Corvette at 460.) It is unique in its class and in a collection of class leaders.

Now I do love 911s, but I was and I still am miffed about the lack of “proper” gearbox for the GT3. My first interaction with a PDK was behind the wheel of an Audi TT in 2005 at the now-defunct Panoz race school at Road Atlanta. I approached this gearbox with the same suspicion and distrust. My verdict was the same as it was in 2005.

I was wrong.

Even when compared back-to-back with the 458 Italia’s magnificent transmission, the GT3’s PDK has crossed the line into precognition.

“Hey GT3, we are coming out of turn 9 and I was thinking we need…oh, that gear then? Well I guess…Holy crap GT3! You were right! Much better than my idea!

Don’t get me wrong. I would still love a human-rowed selector. But the GT3 in this configuration is matchless. By Saturday I was wondering if I was being blinded by my love for the infamous AENSC like a hung-over freshman after his first college hook-up. So I started talking with my fellow instructors.

Porsche 911 GT3

My close friend Chris Mills has helped me with stories at TTAC and is a Hallett’s lead HPDE instructor. He also hates 911s and spends his free time texting me pictures of old VW Beetles. But after a morning session, even he had to agree, it was a surgical scalpel of a track car in the midst of X-Acto knives.

PCA Champion, IMSA Driver and frequent client crush du jour Kristin Treager however is a Porschephile like me. Even with her vast experience in racing 911s, she confirmed the GT3 was as good as I believed. In fact, despite its numerical disadvantage, all of the instructors agreed, it was simply the fastest car on the track. Words fail to convey the difference in capabilities of this car from its supercar stable mates. It takes action. The 911 spoke volumes on the track. Running down more powerful hyper cars from Italy was child’s play.

In another seldom made observation, the GT3 works. Not just in a reliability sense, having never missed a beat all weekend, but in usability. Often clients of stature (politically correct for “big ole Okie farm boys”) were steered away from the Gallardo or Maca because they simply couldn’t fit. The Porsche fit them all. In fact, it was big enough for folks who had issues getting in the Nissan GT-R.

Now that I have completed my lascivious description of the GT3, allow me to relax in the post coital bliss and point out some of the flaws. Yes, the brakes are the terrestrial equivalent to a black hole in a straight line. But in mid-corner they will upset the GT3 in a manner unlike the 458, Huracán or even F-Type.

What’s that over there? A dead horse? Let me grab my beating stick! It still needs an option for the manual transmission. However, after driving this car for the better part of three days, I am not sure I would take that option.

Porsche 911 GT3

My fanboi-battering masters in Stuttgart can go on all they want about calming the unique lift throttle turn characteristics of the 911, and while they have addressed it, this is still a 911. One client discovered this mid-turn when an overly aggressive throttle application was answered with a total lift, reducing us both to passenger status. It stayed on the track, but the GT3 is that barely broken wild horse on the farm. Every now and again it bucks a rider to remind you.

Finally, for its capabilities, it’s a bit plain. It’s a t-shirt and jeans in a realm of Brioni suits. Both inside and out, there is no “Look at me! I am a world beating supercar!” In fairness, that’s always been the 911’s style. Mila Kunis is still a traffic stopper without makeup and the 911 will always command some level of attention.

So, should you get one? No.

What? Mental! You led me down a Tiffani Amber Thiessen fueled, 1,364-word black hole about how great this car is to tell me no?

Yes. Like most supercars, it’s useless in the real world. Granted, you can drive this one everyday and it would probably work really well. But DD a GT3? No. At least the other exotics can impress the 20-somethings; the ones that can tell a GT3 from a standard 911 will probably conclude you have no idea how to drive it.

Porsche 911 GT3

Unless you’re in the very narrow market for a factory-built supercar track special, you would be better off with the 911 Targa. But should you ever get the chance to slip behind the wheel of the GT3, especially on a track, do it. Ignore the anti-PDK hype and take it. Yes, you may come away a bit battered. But if you want to feel empowered, take this car for a heated lap around a race course. It’ll set you right far better than anything ever shown on Lifetime.

Top image courtesy Nicolas Seymour.

Of course, Porsche contributed absolutely nothing to this review. It was researched over three days in Oklahoma coaching with Xtreme Xperience, burning their gas, using up their tires while driving and riding in their collection of exotics. Christian was compensated by Xtreme Xperince, but they had no influence over the outcome of this review.

Christian “Mental” Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. This weekend he will be racing with the Three Pedal Mafia at LeMons Real Hoopties of New Jersey. You can follow that impending debacle on Twitter, Instagram and Vine at M3ntalward. 

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22 Comments on “2015 Porsche 911 GT3: The Capsule Track Test...”

  • avatar

    The GT3 is perhaps the only bargain in the Porsche lineup. It comes standard with what you really care about and competes with far more expensive cars. But it is also an example of why a great track car is rarely a great car for public road use.

    • 0 avatar

      Porsche bargains? Cayman S, Cayman GT4, base Boxster. Some I know would include the 911 GTS.

      • 0 avatar

        Cayman GT4 is a bargain and I would second that on the 911 GTS. Cayman S is one of the best all around sports cars there is and the number one referenced competitor to the TT-RS.

      • 0 avatar

        I stand by my comment. The GT4 probably has a close to a competitor in the Evora 400, the GTS has a competitor in the R8. The Cayman S certainly has competitors in its price range (F Type, Vette, 4C).

        Not arguing the superiority of one car over the other, just noting that there are other cars to consider in the respective price ranges. Now compare that to the GT3. Nothing in its price range touches that car. The “competition” begins around $50,000 above that car (ie, R8 V10, etc).

        I’d argue that the Vette is the sports car bargain under $100,000 and the GT3 is the bargain sports/track car over $100,000.

        • 0 avatar

          Where would you put the Viper and GT-R on the price/performance scale?

          I agree with you about the Corvette being the sub 100k sports car bargain.

      • 0 avatar
        John R

        Putting aside that the GT4 is sold out for a moment has anyone actually purchased a GT4 at anything that resembles MSRP?

        I feel like that while a GT4 is the better car to the Cayman GTS I don’t know if it’s THAT much better after the obligatory “market adjustment”.

  • avatar
    John R

    I wonder which is the better value from Prosche – the GTS with the dual clutch at ~$120k or the GT3 at ~$150k…

  • avatar

    I disagree on this car a not in consideration as a DD. I get that it’s a frame of reference and you’re still talking a small population, but if this is your reference point, a GT3 might be one of the best super cars out there to DD. I have a few friends that DD a couple difference generations of the GT3. It can be done with little drama.

    • 0 avatar

      What about ground clearance (or lack thereof)? That should add some drama every time you drive down a street (potholes, speed bumps, etc)

      • 0 avatar

        A GT3 sits about 30mm lower than on my Carrera 4S. Where I live that wouldn’t be an issue. Thankfully speed bumps don’t seem to be used in excess here. However, the GT3 comes with adjustable shocks so you can raise it if you wish. More importantly, it also has a pneumatic system that can raise the car 30mm at speeds up to 30 mph at the push of a button. Part of the reason the GT3 is a good daily driver if you lean towards performance.

        • 0 avatar

          If you get the lift kit option, but it does exist. Personally, Id opt for the GTS with the manual for a DD. More than enough performance for the street.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it really depends on where you live. If you’re someplace where the streets are relatively crater free it would be a great daily driver. If your local roads are more like Detroit’s, not so much.

      I’d have no problem using it as a DD here in Florida.

  • avatar

    Jack’s editorial was horrible. Just a collection of anti-Porsche memes allegoried with a prostitutes wander down the rabbit hole. He even harped on the IMS issue which has been empirically proven to be a non-issue.

    I’m pretty sure he wrote another editorial about that 200K mile 964 RS, where he recalled how in the early 90s 911s could sit in a dealership for over a year and be bought brand new at fire sale prices. Plus Porsche was not immune to the currency collapse of the 90s- they indeed had to diversify their portfolio to survive. And I sharply disagree with the idea that the 911 & Boxman are bloated. Can anyone name any car that has remained the same weight for the past ~30 years in base trim? Base 911s have bounced around between 2900 and 3100lbs for the last 3 decades. Base Boxster has been ~2800lbs since 1997. Actually I think the current gen lost weight from the 987. 911s and 981s are not much more expensive if at all than their forebears when you account for inflation. People cry about Porsche’s option price gouging but back in Porsche’s “glory days” there were no options to be had. The cars were equipped like base Tercels and priced like 911 turbos. Seems obvious why they hit a lull.

    So this anti-Porsche jihad is so played out. The dream of folks like Jack for Porsche is for it to have purified itself out of existence, largely to serve as an even stronger base of reasoning to look at today with disdain and wax poetically about the past through rose tinted glasses. The 911 is a better value today than its ever been, as is the Cayman/Boxster, and you won’t find a better blend of driving engagement, performance and every day usability. And yes, the Cayenne/Panamera/Macan made that possible. Why is that bad? Would it have been better for Porsche to go the way of Lotus?

    It’s lazy auto journalism, just like how the Mirage has become auto rags’ collective whipping boy. If the 911/Cayman have “lost the plot” what sports cars have stuck to it?

    • 0 avatar

      For those who miss the manual GT3, your new car is the Cayman GT4.

      2-door sports cars are being squeezed out of the market by sports sedans and hot hatches.

      If all I want is a car that is reasonably practical and quite fun, a Porsche Cayman has no case against a Subaru WRX that costs half the price. Even Subaru’s own BRZ cannot objectively attract buyers with any stats. You have to want that last 10% of delicate balance and low-slung body style that your buddy’s heavier WRX cannot match.

      If you wanted an affordable fun car in 1991, you had to get a sports car as almost everything else drove like bathtubs. Today, you can get a sports sedan or a hot hatch that offers 90% of the fun but with five seats, four doors and a large cargo area.

      The remaining sports car buyers are after the “special” experience, the extra 10% of performance, the styling and perhaps the rarity. This group has never been a large market and Porsche knows this.

  • avatar

    Christian Mental Ward, brought the Hammer & Nails, then turned up the funk, with this piece.

    Well done, my non-conformist compatriot.

    (But I dare say again, to kick the horse squarely in the face as it lay on the ground; no manual, no deal, MFers!)

  • avatar

    “It still needs an option for the manual transmission. However, after driving this car for the better part of three days, I am not sure I would take that option.”

    Shouldn’t there be a Harp Darp face somewhere in the immediate vicinity of these two sentences? Do you just want Porsche to offer a manual so you can have a warm fuzzy feeling that there’s a box on the order sheet?

    Maybe… Porsche actually knew what it was doing, and that the PDK is the better track tool. If you want a manual 911 to DD then a Carrera 2S will be better in every possible way.

  • avatar

    Also, that Mila Kunis picture is far from “without makeup.”

  • avatar

    Why are you hitting the brakes mid-corner?

  • avatar

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