THE only thing preventing this car from going around corners even faster is the driver’s ability to hold on. The Alcantara-covered carbon fibre bucket seats are a tight fit, but for good reason – to help withstand the immense g-forces generated while cornering.
There is 305 kW of power on tap in the new Porsche 997 GT3, which is eager to be released at every opportunity. That power peak is reached at the 7 600 r/min mark on the large, centrally mounted rev counter, but the yellow needle continues to circulate until a gear change indicator light flashes at a gloriously loud 8 400 redline. At this point, with your back firmly pinned to the seat, you engage the slightly weighty racing clutch, shift the Alcantaracovered gearlever slickly through the gate into the next notch, then release the clutch once more, all the time wearing a huge grin on your face. Maximum torque is a meaty 405 N.m at 5 500 r/min, and all of this is linked to an exhaust note that could be sold as a CD single on its own.
Extremely proud of its racing pedigree, Porsche bills the GT3 as the road-going version of the race cars run in the curtain raiser series for the Formula One circus. But the words “road-going” should in no way be taken as a compromise, as the latest GT3, like its forbears, is more than comfortable returning to its track roots, with absolutely no adjustments necessary. The fact that a roll cage is a no-cost option upon purchase should say enough. The car is aerodynamically set up for track driving, too.
In white, our test car looked pure and purposeful, with the odd touch of black highlighting some of the fundamentals of the GT3. First up, the lip positioned below the split front spoiler ensures that the nose stays planted, but also demands a cautious real-world driving style, being near impossible not to scratch on driveways and speed bumps. The GT3 has a weight distribution of 38 per cent fore and 62 per cent aft, so it is vital that the nose remains pinned. And that’s where the next distinguishing strip of black comes in, forming a moustache-like grille on the nose, ahead of the luggage compartment. This air outlet forces air that has been swallowed by the huge centre intake to escape over, as opposed to under, the car.
Of course, on a car this focused, rubber is a vital ingredient in the formula, and 19-inch alloys carrying specially developed semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres dominate the side profile of the GT3, with 305/30s fitted at the rear, and 235/35s up front.
At the rear, the massive spoiler is a work of art. The centre section is adjustable should it be necessary for a track outing, and air that doesn’t get bludgeoned by the blade of the wing gets forced downward into the engine intakes by two front facing domes. One further black strip, positioned at the rear of the spoiler, assists with the task of keeping the tail rooted to the road.
The intakes under that spoiler channel air to a 3,6-litre flat-six engine, mounted as usual behind the rear axle. This is based on the power unit used in the 996 GT3, but only the crankcase is carried over unmodified, all other parts being either completely new or having been updated for the new car.
Weight-saving is always at the forefront of planning a race car, and indeed a race car for the road. An example of Porsche’s commitment to this sees lighter forged pistons and titanium connecting rods that save approximately 30 grams per cylinder. All this translates to increased performance, and our test car did not fail to impress…
On the test day our crew were one mince pie away from breaking into the 4,5 second region for the 0-100 km/h sprint, settling for a still impressive 4,6 seconds flat. Even more impressive was that the highrevving engine continued to power the GT3 through the one kilometre mark in just 22,61 seconds. And, as with the 996 version, top speed is clear of the triple-ton…
As with all modern Porsches, stopping power is enormous, and an average 100 km/h to standstill time of just 2,55 seconds in our 10- stop emergency braking procedure just about creates a new ranking category for this magazine. What’s better than “excellent”? Eyeball popping? The fitment of ceramic brakes, signified by yellow calipers, aids the GT3 of course, but the true advantage of these would be more obvious during the heat of battle on a racetrack.
We tested the car with two of the three option buttons mounted on the centre console ahead of the gearlever depressed. The first deactivates the traction control and should only pressed by the brave or foolish. In our case, it allowed for the necessary wheelspin to launch the car off the line. The second is a “sport” button that, when activated, announces itself to the world by opening an extra valve on the central- exiting twin exhausts, and also tweaks the PASM (Porsche Active Stability Management) to minimise body movement and enhance steering precision. Oh, and it unleashes an additional 10 kW of power and 15 N.m of torque, in case you felt short-changed before.
A third button activates a sport suspension setting that firms an already solid ride and turns catseyes into tooth filling removers. This setting would be in its element on a smooth racetrack.
In everyday driving conditions, the GT3 is surprisingly easy to live with. All the track-honed elements are quite happy to play in the real world, and other than a firm ride on uneven surfaces, this must be the ultimate everyday supercar.
The 911 Turbo is mighty and slightly quicker than the GT3, but is also extremely refined and easy to drive. But the GT3, with its natural aspiration and rear-wheel drive configuration, is an everyday sportscar with plenty of built in attitude. It’s on-the edge, extrovert and, if you really want to get serious, it’s completely at home on the racetrack. It’s probably a measure of this team’s youthful attitude, but we think we prefer it to its more civilised, force-fed sister…