By: Kyle Fortune
BEDFORD, ENGLAND – We’ve come to expect that a new 911 GT3 will be quicker than its predecessor around the Nürburgring Nordschleife … it would be worrying if it wasn’t. The 992-generation GT3 isn’t just faster than the 991.2. The magic number it achieved around the Green Hell was under seven minutes.
That’s staggering, not least because the GT3 hasn’t gained any power. Yes, it produces 375 kW from its 4,0-litre, naturally aspirated flat-six but that’s the same as the limited-edition Speedster and a scant 7 kW gain over GT3 circa-2017. The improvements aren’t, then, the result of Porsche extracting more ponies, instead, they’re gained elsewhere.
It is a sensational engine, regardless, the 4,0-litre delivers peak power at 8 400 r/min, a mere 600 r/min short of a heady 9 000 r/min redline. The speed and ferocity with which it gains revs make you grateful for the flashing shift lights that arc around the large central rev counter.
Given the high level of output and that to all intents and purposes, this engine (ECU and exhaust aside) is lifted from a GT3 Cup racecar, some recalcitrance can be excused. It isn’t there though … peak torque of 470 N.m at 6 100 r/min doesn’t tell the whole story because there’s a generous slug of twisting force across the rev range, to the enormous benefit of driveability.
So, the engine is a masterpiece but the concern was with the 992 being bigger, there’d be a weight compromise. There is a tiny gain, only 5 kg, which is incredible given how much more tech is packed onboard, but more about that later. The manual car is 1 418 kg, with the PDK weighing in at 1 435 kg thanks to the GT department’s fastidious weight management: a lithium-ion battery, carbon-fibre bonnet and lightweight glass all play their part. Optional carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fibre roof and the brilliant carbon-fibre bucket seats drop the weight further still.
As crazy as it might sound, the engine is not the main event. No, it’s the chassis and, in particular, the front axle. It’s the first road-going 911 to feature double wishbones; again, these lifted almost entirely from the GT3. It’s no mean feat fitting wishbones under the nose and the wider track (48 mm) helps.
It’s doubtful you’ll ever climb out of a GT3 and find its steering lacking. Yet, the 991.2’s wasn’t good enough for the GT department’s engineers. The benefits of that new front axle include significantly improved camber stability. The layout makes the car stiffer, more resistant to body movements and stable in bends. Both axles benefit from helper springs, the wishbones enable lighter components in comparison to the old setup thanks to differing thrust forces.
Every single fixing in the suspension is rose-jointed, front and rear, while there are adjustable anti-roll bars, camber and ride height settings and toe-in if you have a proclivity with wrenches. PASM dampers offer a choice of Normal, Sport or Track settings if you prefer to do your suspension selection on the move, via touchscreen.
The rear axle is identical in specification – multi-link with rear-wheel steering as the 991.2 – but the components are all new with geometry and calibration set to take advantage of the front axle’s improved performance. It all sits 20 mm lower than a 911 Carrera, on staggered 20-inch front and 21-inch rear forged aluminium alloy wheels shod with 255/35 ZR20 and 315/30 ZR21 Michelin Cup 2s respectively. The 10 mm wider front and rear give a greater contact patch, although a set of hardcore Cup 2 Rs is available if you’re intent on regular track outings.
Even with its focus on circuit work, the ride was remarkably controlled. Rippled, undulating and crumbling surfaces that make up UK roads are a stern test and the GT3 coped admirably. It’s busy but there’s detailed feel – lots of it – and it’s instrumental in that it allows you to pick your trajectory rather than one dictating to you.
That it delivers so much at sensible, legal speeds is revelatory; a bare-knuckled Porsche GT car that’s genuinely involving to drive even at a modest pace, such is the communication and connection. The steering is key as the GT3 turns in with a freakish immediacy and you actively seek out myriad corners to tip it into and feel the beautifully judged front end. Although, focusing on the front axle does the rear a disservice because it faithfully follows the nose. The GT3 seems capable of pivoting and changing direction at any speed.
After a brisk and enlightening hour being captivated by the GT3’s ability on the road, we couldn’t resist the urge to discover its more determined side on a track. Bedford Autodrome, like so many tracks in the UK, was an airfield back in the day. It’s fast and open and, mercifully, empty.
Free of speed limits and traffic, I wrung out the GT3’s engine to its glorious 9 000 r/min redline with wanton abandon. On the road, I had been short-shifting as it is indecently quick at 6 000 r/min, and obnoxious to locals above that. Here, there was no such concern and I fought the temptation to tug the PDK paddle for another instantaneously delivered ratio until the rev light arced blue and called for one. Doing so fills the cabin with a sound that’s deeper in its timbre, with a dirtier, more purposeful racer’s note that’ll silence all those bemoaning the advent of particulate filters. The sound, the ferocity with which it revs, the linearity of its performance right up to the redline is simply mesmerising: this engine truly is one of Porsche’s all-time greats.
In PDK guise, it’ll sprint from 0-100 km/h in a claimed 3,40 seconds, with little reprieve in acceleration all the way to its 320 km/h top speed (the manual takes 3,70 seconds and maxes out at 318 km/h). This is thanks in no small part to the clever aerodynamics – a lot of which can be attributed to the top-mounted swan-neck rear wing – seeing an increase in downforce of as much as 50% (231 kg of downforce at 200 km/h) with no penalty in drag. Get the spanners out and you can alter the attack angle, with four different settings at your disposal; the highest is a 150% increase at 200 km/h, which equates to an additional 385 kg on the GT3.
On the track, the way the nose turned in was nothing short of incredible. You start to tip the steering wheel and the nose reacts … no slack, no pause, the combination of that new front axle, more tyre and the rear-wheel steering increases the agility. Every element of the driving experience became heightened on the track: the brakes, PCCBs fitted here, were unerring in their stopping force, allowing the confidence to work the front end ever harder. You could be more adventurous with braking and turn-in points, trail-braking into bends and maximising traction out again.
The GT3 is an assault on the senses. It’s physical, brutal, yet, never exhausting. It’s a car that’s a mass of contradictions: a car with track driving as its focus which works beautifully on the road. Taut and light, it feels solid and impeccably built and just keeps on delivering an intoxicating hit of endorphins, wherever it’s driven.
As we race headlong into a future that’s turbocharged, hybridised and eventually electric, the fact that Porsche is still building cars that are as engaging, visceral, capable and downright joyous as the 992 GT3 is something we should all be excited about. As time marches on, the GT3 becomes more exceptional and less like anything else in
Price:R3 109 000
Engine:4,0-litre, flat-6, petrol
Power:375 kW @ 8 400 r/min
Torque:470 N.m @ 6 100 r/min
0-100 km/h:3,40 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed:320 km/h
Fuel Consumption:12,4 L/100 km (claimed)
Maintenance Plan:3-year / 100 000 km