2015 Porsche 911 GT3: The Capsule Track Test

W Christian Mental Ward
by W Christian Mental Ward

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.

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.

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.

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.

W Christian Mental Ward
W Christian Mental Ward

School teacher, amateur racer, occasional story teller.

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