Cape Town - Porsche, those purveyors of sportscars for the masses (relatively speaking) have released their very non mass market 911 GT3 in South Africa.
Rear-wheel-drive, high-revving normally aspirated engine, motorsport chassis with rear axle steering, big-ass rear wing, a lightened body with better aerodynamics - it’s a more raw and unfiltered Porsche, like a Texan Plain cigarette if you excuse the non-PC smoking reference. But this is a non-PC car, a Porsche that doesn’t strive for the everyone-friendly duality of many other 911s, that meek-as-a-kitten feel around town but the tiger when you pull its tail.
On the mountain passes and urban roads around the Western Cape where I drove the car at its media launch this week, it was a tiger all the time. It felt fast even when going slow, a livid thing which lays on the emotion several layers thick.
Man, what a noise it makes. It’s a lurid wail that sounds like a Formula One car - or the way they used to before they became watered-down hybrids. Rev this normally-aspirated 4-litre between 7000 and its 9000 rpm redline and it howls like the hounds of hell being unleashed. Hide the wimmen and children, and close the shutters. That sound should come with an age restriction.
The car’s available with the PDK double-clutch seven-speed transmission for the fastest lap time, and a six-speed manual gearbox for the purists.
The PDK version I drove snicks through its gears with almost magical intuitiveness, but this is a car that implores you to use the paddle shifters to keep the engine revving in that wailing zone, not because it’s necessary to summon the power - there’s oodles of low down torque - but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s a playful imperative.
The wide tyres whoosh loudly over all but the smoothest tar, and the roll cage that replaces the rear seats (in the optional Clubsport package) sometimes clunks against the inside of the car when you drive over bumps - it’s all part of the GT3’s race-bred, visceral vibe.
The power may not rock the richter scale like a 911 Turbo, but the instant throttle response at sea level is a joy to experience - one can only hope that it transfers to power-sucking Gauteng altitude without too much loss.
The optional racing bucket seats adjust fore and aft only, but they’re surprisingly well padded and comfy.
The steering is surgically sharp and direct, which makes all kinds of sense on a track and smooth-surfaced twisty tar. But on a bumpy road that trigger-sensitive steering required very steady hands on the tiller; the twitchiness is not for sissies.
The grip is immense, and the rear-wheel drive GT3 swishes through turns with g-force-generating gusto. It accepts harsh throttle treatment without turning into a lurid, powersliding beast. Up to a point, of course.
The ride is undeniably firm and the GT3 sits 25mm lower than a Carrera S, but the Porsche Active Suspension Management shock-absorber system kept the ride bearably compliant over my 450km test drive.
If you’re wondering about the personalised number plate, Flacht is where Porsche’s motorsport division is located in Germany, where the GT3 is built alongside the Le Mans-winning 919, the GT3 Cup and other racing Porsches.
A fitting registration for one of the most track-ready of Porsche’s road cars.There are many faster cars than the GT3, but few that stir the soul more.
PORSCHE GT3 - THE NUMBERS:
Powertrain: 4-litre flat six engine, 368kW/460Nm, rear-wheel drive, 7-speed PDK or 6-speed manual transmission
0-100km/h: 3.4 seconds (PDK), 3.9 seconds (manual)
Top speed: 318km/h (PDK), 320km/h (manual)
Price: R2 750 000