Review: Porsche GT3

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

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.

Seeing 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.

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 G

T3 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.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Mjolnir Mjolnir on Nov 19, 2009
    "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.
  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Jul 03, 2011

    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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