Porsche’s most elemental 911 traces its ancestry back to the 1973 911 Carrera RS. But how does a modern manufacturer keep the racing essence and still satisfy the suits in Brussels? Cue the latest GT3 – feral, stripped, addictive, but with manners. Nice to pat a dog that doesn’t want to take your hand off, discovers Peter Frost.
Franschhoek Pass. And beyond that, a still-verdant valley, mostly filled with the bounty that is (a happily still full) Theewaterskloof Dam. Under my right foot, 380 kilowatts of temptation, threatening a Tourette’s impulse that’d likely lead to a Porsche mountain mess. The inevitable glacial Polo kyk-daars litter the pass, attention everywhere except on the road ahead or behind. No worries – the GT3 snakes past, a blue eddy of disdain before they’ve had a chance to check their bifocals.
Finally, towards the bottom of the pass a switchback of clear S-bends, grist for the GT3 mill. Drop two gears in Porsche’s sublime manual 6-shifter (there’s also a PDK automatic option), stiffen as Verdi’s Dies Irae raises Cain out of the rear pipes and feed the front end into the first left-hander.
Lawdy, lawdy what alchemy is this? The front has copious grip, digs in, charges. No understeer here, just a deliciously tactile conversation between steering wheel and driver. Slow in, rocket out – Verdi again, blowing the roof off the proverbial concert hall – senses take flight. This. Is. Staggering. Right. Left. Left again. Pedal weight – perfect. Throttle response – bang on. Steering, razor sharp. And intuitive; carnivorous, febrile, archaic though it is, it doesn’t bite. Limits, when they come, are transmitted well ahead of time. Not that they’re ever truly reached. It’d take a Röhrl or a Sabine Schmitz to push this beast into true wet underwear territory; frankly, no one else will have the nerve. It howls though. Glory, does it howl. In the face of an electric future too, too full of hush, it bellows its rebellion, a call that connects with something visceral deep inside its driver.
For those not au fait with GT3’s raison d’ etre, it’s the purest 911, the engineer’s machine, a driver’s favourite, light body wrapped around a traditional, conventionally aspirated four-litre flat six. The latest iteration – 992.1 in petrolhead parlance – can be had as a GT3 Touring (replacing the fixed spoiler with a retractable one) and, in time, an even more race-focused GT3 RS.
Inside, GT3 is a typical 911, hewn from granite, an ergonomic masterclass for the most part, switches where they should be, retro-inspired cowls housing a fusion of analogue and digital information. There’s a Track option, which limits the information left and right of the giant speedo. Space, the abundance of it, is what draws many to this most everyday of supercars and indeed the cockpit is a fine place to spend an afternoon, alone or with company. No rear seats in the pared down GT3 of course, just a sturdy roll cage, but then anyone out back would be milk turned to yoghurt after a single power run, so limited disappointment there.
The R43 opens up, Verdi’s chorus throats up again. It’s about addiction. No turbo hiatus, no waiting, no making adjustments for delayed anarchy. It’s all immediate; entertain a notion, execute. Boom. And again and again, until those adrenal glands are empty. Then tap off, regroup, pretend it’s a Volksie for a few kilometres and go to it again. It is all about connections – of car and driver, past and present, intention and action. It’s what makes it so addictive. A history lesson in no compromises, going all the way back to the 1973 911 Carrera RS. I’ll have mine in Python Green please.
Porsche 911 GT3 (992.1)
Price: R3 109 000
Engine: rear mounted, naturally aspirated, 3 996 cc boxer flat-6
Transmission: 7-speed automated dual clutch
Power: 375 kW @8 400 rpm
Torque: 470 N.m @6 100 rpm
Driven wheels: Rear
0-100 km/h: 3,9 seconds
Top speed: 320 km/h
Fuel consumption: 13,3 l/100km (combined)
CO2 emissions: 304 g/km
Rivals: McLaren 600LT, Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition, Audi R8 Coupé V10, Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupé