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Porsche 911 991 GT3 review (2013 onwards)
2013 Porsche 911 GT3: summary
A technological tour de force that proves cutting edge progress can still be sensational fun – the new Porsche 911 GT3 is a 475hp triumph
What:2013 Porsche 911 GT3
Available: On sale now, first deliveries November 2013
Key rivals:Audi R8 V10 Plus, Ferrari 458 Italia, Maserati GranTurismo Sport, McLaren 12C, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, Nissan GT-R Track Pack
We like: incredible 9,000rpm rev-limit, bonkers-fast PDK gearbox, superb steering, surprisingly comfortable, immense grip and handling poise
We don’t like: absolutely nothing; even the price is a bargain
2013 Porsche 911 GT3: first impressions
With the brilliance of the latest Boxster and Cayman shining so very, very bright, you might think the current 991-generation Porsche 911 had been shuffled, if not into the shadows, then certainly to the edge of the limelight. This new GT3 version isn’t just aiming to take it back again, it’s out to steal the whole show.
You only have to catch a fleeting glimpse to see that the 911 GT3 is a performance version of a performance car – and then some.
From the nose that’s so low it’s practically sniffing white lines right through to the unmissable fixed rear wing, you can tell it means serious business even before it’s turned one of those gloriously purposeful 20-inch forged alloy wheels. The LED daytime running lights are extraordinarily eye-catching, too.
Then there’s the noise. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
This 991-based GT3 is also amazingly technologically advanced. This starts – and ends – with the 475hp engine, which revs to an outrageous 9,000rpm, but extends to the variable-rate suspension, the "dynamic" engine mounts and the active four-wheel steering. Not to mention the choice of PDK paddleshift gearbox.
2013 Porsche 911 GT3: performance
That gearbox, which can function as a full automatic, is something of a controversy. Every previous GT3 has included a gated gearlever and a clutch; now that’s not even optional. The ‘purists’ were furious. But here’s the thing – we’re big Porsche GT3 fans, and we didn’t even slightly miss it.
This is no ordinary PDK, with shift times down to as little as 100 milliseconds in ‘Race Track’ mode, closer ratios and a seventh cog that’s a proper gear rather than a fuel-saving overdrive. But then, nor is this by any measure an ordinary engine.
The 9,000rpm, 475hp engine is pure genius, the PDK gearbox astonishing
While the same 3.8-litre capacity as the regular 911 Carrera S, the GT3 shares only the crankcase, the timing chains, cylinder head bolts and some ancillaries. Everything else is bespoke – including the race-spec forged pistons and titanium connecting rods, the oil handling and the entire direct injection system.
The result is a piece of pure engineering genius, the ravishing prospect of 475hp – which peaks at a crazy high 8,250rpm – supported by a dirty great wodge of torque that makes the GT3 surprisingly tractable, despite not maxing at 324lb ft until 6,250rpm.
All of this is accompanied by a noise that builds from bear-with-a-sore-head bellow to a keening screaming sound at the limiter that’s somewhere between a mutant blender and sci-fi pulse weapon – except harmonised by some kind of classically trained musical guru.
Combine this astonishing motor with that ‘controversial’ gearbox, and you’ve got not just a rear-wheel drive non-turbo 911 that will go 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds – a Porsche figure, so probably conservative – you’ve got a GT3 that feels almost as fast in motion as most bona fide supercars.
It snaps through up-shifts like a hammer on bubble wrap, and never, ever leaves you waiting on a down-change. It really is like being hard-wired directly into the machine. The experience of full-bore acceleration in this car is utterly scintillating, and makes you want to chase the redline again and again.
Should you still want more involvement, all you need to do is reach for the shift lever, which in full manual mode acts like a proper sequential racing transmission. Pull back – BAM – to change up; push forward – BLIP – to change down. The action is gorgeously weighted, and the process hopelessly intoxicating.
2013 Porsche 911 GT3: ride and handling
A drivetrain like that deserves a chassis to match – and the GT3 isn’t razor sharp, it’s a diamond-tipped scalpel.
The steering is ridiculous. The ride quality is ridiculous. The combination of agility and stability achieved via the four-wheel steering is very nearly ludicrous. But what’s more insane is how cohesive the whole set-up feels, in spite of all the electronic interference.
The four-wheel steering allows the GT3 to dive harder into tighter corners and carry more speed through faster ones
For instance, despite the electric assistance – which improves efficiency but generally kills feedback – Porsche has conjured up steering that comes completely alive in your hands, bobbing and weaving and dancing with the road surface as if it’s barely assisted at all. Genuinely, magic.
Then there’s the ride. This is a hardcore performance car, right? Even with the roads in Germany being smooth, the GT3 is so perfectly damped you start to think it would be comfortable enough to commute in every day. The 991’s longer wheelbase helps here, while the firmer Sport mode is like track day icing on the top.
As for the four-wheel steering, this allows the car to dive harder into tighter corners and carry more speed through faster ones, aided and abetted by a fully variable electronic rear differential that works hand-in-hand with a torque vectoring system – all of which enhance the GT3’s ability to change direction.
The final touch is the unique "paddle-neutral" feature. Pull both gearshift paddles at once and you can instantly disengage the gearbox, like dipping the clutch on a manual car.
This gives you greater control over the power delivery – to the extent that with time you can potentially learn to perform a ‘clutch kick’ to dramatically alter the cornering attitude… Probably not ideal on public roads, but an awesome additional facet to GT3’s dynamic arsenal. As if it needed one.
2013 Porsche 911 GT3: interior
The no-cost Club Sport package includes a roll cage, fire extinguisher and six-point racing harness
The most obvious change inside the GT3 is the extra Alcantara and the absence of the rear seats – which amongst many other measures helps to reduce road-ready weight to just 1,430kg.
Notably there are buttons to specifically disable the ESP, the ESP and the traction control together (aka: the burn out button), change the damper settings, the PDK’s intensity (in Race Track it shifts so hard it almost feels like it’s breaking itself, so you might not want that all the time), and the volume of the exhaust.
Making it noisier actually boosts mid-range torque. Still, the added refinement is impressive when you disengage this. Which might be handy on longer motorway journeys between racing circuits.
The instrument cluster includes a g-meter, and a pair of Performance and Torque graphics that involve attempting to make an orange dot move as vigorously as possible. Not that we’re children. Honestly.
2013 Porsche 911 GT3: economy and safety
It’s so good that even at just over £100,000 the 2013 Porsche 911 GT3 seems like a bargain
The highly precise new direct injection system increases both power and efficiency, which means Porsche claims the GT3 can return 22.8mpg combined while emitting 289g/km. For an engine of this size and performance that’s outstanding – but don’t expect to see that when you’re making the most of it…
Safety kit includes all the essentials from the 991, plus the option of a no-cost Club Sport package – factory-fitted half roll cage, plus fire extinguisher and six-point racing harness for installation at the track – and for an extra charge the same ‘PCCB’ ceramic brakes as the forthcoming 918 Spyder hypercar.
Funnily enough, although there’s absolutely no doubting the ceramics’ ultimate stopping power, they do make the brake pedal feel a little dead – which is occasionally slightly alarming on the road. Their increased resistance to fade and extra longevity makes them ideal for hard circuit use, however.
2013 Porsche 911 GT3: the MSN Cars verdict
From the moment the 991 variant was announced, Porsche has been entirely unapologetic about the technological encroachment into the ‘purity’ of the GT3 – and it’s now plain to see why. As a total package of focused performance, the 2013 GT3 is sensational. Easily this writer’s car of the year so far.
It’s so good that even at just over £100,000 it seems like a bargain. If you like driving beyond every other consideration, there’s nothing else at the price that comes anywhere close – in fact, the most obvious comparison is the Ferrari 458 Italia, and that’ll cost you £80k more.
The only real problem is that the UK allocation for 2013 is almost already sold out. That, and the sad, sad reality that we can’t afford one. What a toy.
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