It’s been a while since we have had a contender for the top of the leader board take to the track, it’s almost been 2 years with the Porsche 911 GT2 RS and 911 GT3 RS, sitting proudly in the top spots.
Our CarExpert test track is a good mixture of high- and low-speed corners with one decent straight, which also means that it’s not all down to outright power either; cars that are easy to handle and give good feedback also do really well.
Firstly, this thing looks ready to race, its stance and presence on the road is just epic in my opinion, and this is something I usually don’t talk about in the reviews, but it looks fast just sitting in pit lane.
Secondly, performance is important, but it is not always easy to extract that in four laps, yet with this new 911 GT3 I felt more comfortable than I ever had in a Porsche, and really feel like I got the most out of it.
Now, onto the details!
The 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat six develops 375kW of power and 470Nm of torque, and feels even better than I remember.
Smooth, linear and responsive, its lack of turbocharging is not missed one bit and absolutely designed with the track in mind.
You feel so in control, and at the same time in awe of what this engine is capable of. The seamless overlap of the torque and power curve as it screams its way to the 9000rpm red line, is a delight to be in charge of.
What blew my mind even more was the ability to bang out 0-100 in under 3.5 seconds consistently with a rear-driven naturally-aspirated drivetrain, getting down to a best of 3.44s. For me, that’s even more impressive than what electric cars are doing, even though it is not quite as quick in a straight line.
It really has found the sweet spot of what a performance engine should be and the punishment it can handle.
I was really happy with the brakes and would say this is a slight improvement over the previous-generation 911 GT3.
The biggest thing was building up some brake and tyre temperature on the first lap and once that happened, it was really dialled in.
I even noticed when I went to do the braking test, after the car had cooled down, the braking performance really dropped away. I could feel the tyres skipping on the ground rather than biting into it, so it’s important to build up temperature before really pushing.
Braking stability with the Porsche 911 GT3 was impressive as you can imagine, creating a great platform to be able to feed it into the corners with.
WOW! The lateral grip of this car is insane, I could not believe the step up in performance Porsche has made with this chassis. It has more grip, it’s more forgiving and easier to push to the limit compared to the previous generation.
The confidence and bond you build with this Porsche 911 GT3 is something really special, and although it may be slightly easier to drive than previous versions, it’s even more satisfying due to the feedback it gives you.
It still has that subtle squat as you feed the power, but as the rear starts to step away it somehow manages to hold its poise so much better than before. You know you have pushed too far, but it’s kind enough to acknowledge it without punishing you for it.
As for the front end, the precision and feedback it offers is fantastic and in similar vein to the rear of the car – you really know where the limit is, but can live on it constantly.
The Porsche 911 GT3’s seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission is even better than I remember as well.
You feel like you are sitting in a factory race car as you pluck gears with the engine screaming behind you. Not once did I have it reject what I was asking for and although you have to be mindful of what gear to be in, the engine is flexible enough to deal with some mistakes.
If you haven’t got the message yet, this engine and transmission combination creates one hell of an experience.
The way this car entered, rotated and exited corners was brilliant, and even though I know there was a differential and electronics working away behind the scenes, I didn’t notice them one bit.
The traction and balance on corner exit were perfect; and every time I asked for more, it delivered. Corner entry has taken a step up as well, feeling more in control but as free as ever at the same time.
Increasing chassis ability has almost pushed the importance of the differential to the side, yet it’s more capable and refined than ever.
Having learnt a bit more about the Porsche 911 GT3 since I last drove one, I opted for Sport mode on the suspension settings rather than Track.
In this setting, it still offers enough support but can deal with bumps and changing surfaces a bit better.
Even so, it’s still reactive off bumps and curbs, and really enjoys the smoothest parts of the racetrack.
As for grip, I really don’t know how Porsche has dialled in so much lateral grip and traction from this package. The step forward taken in this area is something that you wouldn’t think was possible.
Because the chassis is improved, it makes the steering feel even better than ever – precise and connected with excellent feedback, something that you just expect from Porsche.
As I mentioned earlier, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres took a bit to warm up; but once they did, it was on!
Lateral grip and traction were excellent and although I know a slick tyre is going to be quite a bit quicker, for a road-legal tyre they do an amazing job.
With the car being more forgiving than before, I was able to see how impressive the tyres were at the limit.
I ran with everything in Track mode except the suspension, which was in Sport, which I had previously found to be the best setting on our test track.
Because of the level of lateral grip and the driveability of the engine, I barely noticed the driver aids interfering, and it is nice to have the backup there if needed at those speeds.
It has been designed to perform on the track and that includes all these systems, which actually help rather than hinder.
The seats are my only complaint; with a helmet on your head gets slightly pushed forward feels a little awkward. Having seen what BMW did with the M4 seats, I think there is room for improvement here.
The steering wheel size, position and finish is perfect, but Porsche could add some additional controls, such as suspension settings to make it easier to adjust on the go.
There is not too much to say about the rest of the interior. It does exactly what it needs to and keeps you focused on the track, with the gearshift lights subtly grabbing your attention when needed.
As you may have guessed, the Porsche 911 GT3 was quick – seriously quick!
It’s the first car we have seen break the 54-second mark, achieving 53.82 seconds on my third lap, heading straight to the top of the CarExpert leaderboard.
Some might ask: ‘how is this quicker than even the Porsche 911 GT2 RS?!’ – but let me tell you; trying to master a GT2 RS in four laps is not an easy task, and it’s not as suited to the tighter, trickier corners of Queensland Raceway.
This new 911 GT3 is a more driveable car and in my mind more of a complete package. All the small improvements Porsche have made have enhanced this car beyond what I thought was capable.
Now I might be just a little bit excited for the next GT3 RS…
- You must track this car if you have one, it deserves it
- Smooth is fast, you don’t need a lot of inputs to do a quick time
- Warm up your tyres and brakes before pushing hard
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MORE: Everything Porsche 911