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DRIVEN: New Porsche 911 GT3 is a racing car that happens to be street legal

Published Mar 10, 2022


Cape Town: It’ like Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” when the cannons and bells start to make their presence known. A visceral rage of the machine that keeps you wanting more and asking more from Porsche’s new 911 GT3.

And it will gladly oblige, so much so that I reckon if you ever do get to find its limits, hopefully you’re on a track with decent run-offs and tyre barriers.

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I don’t think Neil Diamond had the glorious howl of a 4.0-litre rear-mounted six cylinder boxer engine at 9000rpm in mind when he wrote Beautiful Noise but, for a petrol head, this is nirvana.

The GT3 is essentially a street-legal racing machine with a roll cage, not much sound insulation and an attitude to match.

And that’s to be expected with wide semi-slick Michelins that do an excellent job of keeping the 375kW and 470Nm of torque to the rear wheels on the black stuff with either a six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed PDK dual clutch automatic.

The new 992 generation 911 GT3 is not an easy drive and, as a daily driver, unless your route is smooth tar all the way, any road imperfection is amplified by the stiff suspension and racing seats.

You’ll also need above-average driving skills because, at speed, there’s a lot going on as it bullets its way along the straights and howls into and out of corners, with the roll cage occasionally adding its own beat to the cabin sounds.

This is especially so with the manual as it darts and bounces along while you change gears through the narrow shift gate. Add indicators and rain-wiper stalks into the equation and it gets really interesting.

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The auto blips while down gearing add to the whole purist driving sensation.

The GT3 isn’t the fastest in the range but this new one covered the Nurburgring 17 seconds quicker at 6:59.9 than the one it replaces, to give you an idea.

The PDK option gets to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds and will even out at 318km/h while the three pedalled version sprints to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 320km/h.

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Weight saving over the predecessor is achieved by using lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic on the bonnet, rear decklid and rear wing, lightweight glass for the windows, forged alloy wheels and a lightweight sports exhaust responsible for that magnificent sound.

The test units we drove were fitted with carbon-ceramic brakes which didn’t fade once under regular hard braking and also took off a few extra kilogrammes.

The rear wing and front air splitter are manually adjustable to make the car more track or road biased and, in its top-end set-up, has 150 percent more downforce than the outgoing GT3 and almost 50 percent more for the standard street setting.

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With adjustable sports suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management variable dampening, rear axle steering, race-designed double-wishbone suspension and ball joints that replace rubber at the five-like rear axle, getting behind the wheel is an occasion, a bit like conducting an orchestra playing the aforementioned “1812 Overture”.

It’s also not a car where idle chit-chat or relationship issues can be addressed; there’s just too much going on and I doubt your partner will have the same smile as you gun it through the gears.

The PDK version is the easier one to drive, essentially because you get to keep both hands on the wheel all the time.

It seems to have a sixth sense no matter where you are in the rev range. I found it to be in the correct gear with every corner entry and exit, the engine, all the while, as an accompaniment.

Driving the manual early morning over the sweeping Franschhoek pass with no traffic I really got to experience what the GT3 is all about.

Which is why I said finding its limit is best done in a controlled environment. With the extra downforce and semi-slicks, snaking bends and hairpins is its ideal environment.

You have to be alert throughout because it’s not the most forgiving car and, at speed with its direct steering and stiff suspension, you go into tunnel vision, with only the road and the corners in focus.

Still, once you back off and the sticky tyres throw pebbles onto the wheel arches, you know this is what the 911 GT3 was designed for.

There may be more powerful and quicker supercars out there but for pure driving dynamics, outright pleasure and agility, there’s no better way than to strap yourself into the Porsche 911 GT3.

The Porsche 911 GT3 manual, automatic and a Touring derivative sans rear wing are all priced at R3 109 000 and includes a three-year/100 000km Driveplan.

IOL Motoring