Ask a self-respecting car enthusiast to think of a Porsche and the first car that comes to mind would probably be the 911 GT3. Outside of the hardcore RS models, the GT3 is Zuffenhausen’s flagship project and the car on which its purist credentials are staked on. So when a new one comes around, it’s a Big Deal.
That time has come, because Porsche has just pulled the covers off the 992-generation GT3. The silhouette may look broadly similar to past models but the new car boasts some major innovations in aerodynamics and chassis technology, drawing from the company’s formidable motorsports efforts.
Starting off with the larger body of the 992, the GT3 gets a revised front fascia with a broad centre air intake and slim corner inlets. The bonnet is now made from carbon fibre to save weight and features twin “nostril” ducts that vent the radiator – previously, airflow was directed through a slot in the bumper. An RS-style carbon fibre roof will also be available, mirroring an option offered on the standard Carrera.
The side skirts are also wider than standard, but the biggest difference is at the rear, where a significant redesign has freed up huge aerodynamic gains. Most noticeable is the swan neck rear wing, which places the mounting points on the top surface, where the airflow is less sensitive. This enables the wing to be run at a greater angle of attack without flow separation, increasing efficiency and downforce.
Low down, the diffuser is larger and deeper than before, also improving its capacity to deliver downforce. In a roundtable with international media, including paultan.org, GT division boss Andreas Preuninger rattled off some spectacular numbers – a 50% increase in downforce in standard configuration, without a corresponding uptick in drag. In its most aggressive position, the wing helps to raise that figure to a staggering 150%.
Beyond the aerodynamics, the chassis is another area where Porsche has made a significant step forward. The five-link rear axle and rear-wheel steering has been retained, albeit with new ball joints on the lower wishbones. But the front end has been completely reconfigured, ditching the MacPherson strut suspension for double wishbones inspired by the 911 RSR racer – a first for a road-going Porsche.
Preuninger said that the setup offers increased precision and allows the tyres’ contact patches to be more consistent under load, thanks to its inherent control of camber. The tyres themselves – which are also now provided by Pirelli, joining existing suppliers Michelin and Dunlop – are also slightly wider, while the new race-spec dampers react even quicker to bumps, with a response time of less than 10 milliseconds.
The brake discs, which continue to be steel as standard with a carbon ceramic option, are considerably larger than before – the fronts measure 405 mm instead of 380 mm on the 991. Despite this, they are 17% lighter than the old ones, as are the forged Y-spoke centre-lock alloys (20-inch fronts, 21-inch rears). These are wrapped in high-performance street tyres, although you can now get road-legal track rubber for the first time.
The heart of the GT3 remains the 4.0 litre naturally-aspirated flat-six from the 991 model – derived in this specification from the run-out 911 Speedster, it continues to rev out to a stratospheric 9,000 rpm. Outputs remain at 510 PS at 8,400 rpm and 470 Nm of torque at 6,100 rpm, figures that are 10 PS and 10 Nm up on the previous-generation facelift.
These numbers were achieved despite the even more restrictive emissions regulations the 992 model has to pass. The GT3 is now saddled with two separate particulate filters and oxygen sensors, the weight of which are offset by a 10 kg lighter stainless steel exhaust system. An active exhaust valve is fitted to enhance the sonorous engine note and piercing high-rev shriek.
Like the Speedster, the GT3 features individual throttle bodies and carries over the maintenance-free solid valve lifters (responsible for the engine’s voracious appetite for revs), VarioCam variable valve timing and dry-sump lubrication from its predecessor. As before, buyers are given the option of either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission.
Porsche continues to offer the manual because the business case makes sense – globally, around 45% of buyers opted for a more analogue shift experience with the previous 991.2, said Preuninger. But the scales tip even further into the manual’s favour in certain markets.
“In the US, for example – a country you would think would have the most automatic lovers – it’s completely the opposite,” Preuninger said. “We had more than half of the cars delivered to the US with a manual, more than 60%. All in all, it’s almost half-half, and we expect that to be the same with the new 992 model.”
Both gearboxes have been carried over, the manual retaining its rev-matching function and its 17 kg weight advantage over the PDK. The latter differs from the one in the Carrera and Turbo by having one fewer ratio, again saving weight. It also allows for the fitment of a conventional mechanical gearlever (now in a more manual-like design), although you can still shift gears using the paddles on the steering wheel.
Remarkably, the GT3 is barely any heavier than the outgoing model, despite the larger body. It tips the scales at 1,418 kg in manual form and 1,435 kg with the PDK, just five kilograms more than the 991.2. Aside from the usual use of lighter glass and the removal of the rear seats and some sound deadening, Porsche has also added a lithium iron phosphate battery that alone weighs 10% less than the old model’s unit.
Equipped with the PDK and the marginal power, torque and weight gains, the new GT3 sprints from zero to 100 km/h a tenth of a second quicker at 3.3 seconds, hitting 200 km/h in 10.8 seconds. The manual is naturally slower, registering numbers of 3.9 and 11.9 seconds respectively. Weirdly, however, it’s the row-your-own option that has the higher top speed, at 320 km/h versus 318.
One figure that trumps the rest, however, is the car’s lap time on the Nürburgring. Fitted with the PDK and a speedy Lars Kern in the driver’s seat, the new GT3 lapped the fearsome Nordschleife in six minutes 59.927 seconds. That’s a whopping 17.5 seconds faster than the old model and just over three seconds slower than the outgoing GT3 RS – a car that is even more serious and stripped bare.
Inside, the GT3’s track-focused aesthetic is retained thanks to lashings of Alcantara trim. A new track screen function allows you to select a reduced mode for the screens either side of the rev counter, only showing data such as the tyre pressure indicator, oil pressure, oil temperature, fuel tank level and water temperature. Coloured shift bars and lights are also present to help you nail those gear changes.
You can also specify carbon-shelled bucket seats and, at no extra cost, the Clubsport package. The latter adds a rear roll cage, a six-point driver’s harness, a motorsport-spec portable fire extinguisher and a battery disconnect switch, ensuring you’re always ready for the track.
Also optional is a new automatic chronograph watch by Porsche Design, available exclusively to buyers of the GT3. The titanium timepiece is made from aluminium and features a rotor inspired by the car’s wheels, as well as a coloured dial ring that can be matched to the owner’s chosen paint finish.
With the GT3 now out in the open, the question is when will the Touring model – with its more subtle active rear spoiler – be offered? Preuninger remained mum but hinted that it will arrive before summer is over. “It will be not so late that you can’t enjoy the car in the sunshine and warm temperatures,” as he put it.
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