The Porsche 911 GT3 has long been THE 911 of enthusiasts. It is the perfect combination of track inspired performance and road legal everyday ergonomics. This is the car for those who think that a Carrera S is too soft but a GT2 spine erodingly intolerable day-to-day. A 911 that dons a GT3 badge often has people “who know what they are talking about” foaming at the mouth, but this new 2013 991 GT3 has to be one of the most controversial cars Porsche has ever produced. It has split opinion, divided loyalties and brought the worlds best selling sports car in front of a potentially hostile jury. Why? Because the Germans have changed the much loved recipe in four fundamental ways. Engine, steering, gearbox and weight. So let’s get scientific and pick the brain of this new car.
For 2013 Porsche have replaced the much loved engine block of this car for the all-new unit found in other 991 911’s. This new DFI unit is causing quite a fuss amongst loyalists, but Porsche say that this 3.8 litre flat-six is just as special as the old one. Sharing very few components with the standard DFI, the GT3’s gets titanium rods, a lighter crank shaft and completely new cylinder heads. The result is 475BHP and an engine that revs all the way up to 9,000RPM. Want proof that this change may well be for the better? Porsche claim that using this engine a 911 can set a faster lap time than the special 4.0 litre RS of the 997 series.
Now this is a big one… The steering feel and feedback is something at the heart and soul of every 911. The way the car talks to you and interacts as you drive it makes it what it is. The 991 cars lack traditional hydraulic steering in favour of faster responding electromechanical. These new systems have been critiqued as making the driving experience not as involving, something that is unacceptable to true GT3 men and women. The electromechanical system for the new GT3 has been completely retuned over the standard car. After hundreds of racing laps Porsche are saying that it provides much more feedback thanks to altered software and new suspension geometry. Also new for the 991 GT3 is four wheel steering that works by turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts when under 30MPH and in the same direction when over. The benefits of this are twofold. Firstly at low speeds the car is much more agile with a considerably faster turning response. At higher speeds with the wheels turning in the same direction the new GT3 maintains high levels of stability when cornering.
Will they? Won’t they? It was a complete mystery as to what Porsche were going to do with the gearbox of the 2013 GT3 before the Geneva motor show where it made its debut. “Petrol heads” want a manual as we love being the organic part of the machine, but the new car in an extremely controversial move will only come with Porsche’s PDK. However, this flappy paddle affair will be quite different to what you find in the rest of the 911 line-up. This PDK has been engineered specifically for the GT3 car meaning that it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Not only do you get a sub 100 millisecond shift time, lighter gearing and an extra dose of popping and spitting on downshifts, but it also has a function fit for that little bit of ASBO that lives in all of us. Pulling both paddles at the same time, blipping the throttle and releasing them has the same effect as kicking the clutch. Turning into a corning and doing this will result in some entreatingly sideways moments. Opposite lock in a GT3 is far from extinct.
For the first time in 911 history the GT3 model will weigh more than the standard rear wheel drive Carrera S and this in particular will be getting the fans up in arms. On what planet does the light weight racing inspired version of the 911 weigh more than the standard model on which it is based? Well, the answer is quite simple when you think about it. The car is packed with more technology than any 911 that has gone before it. For example that rear wheel steering system adds a fair bit of mass to the car. Porsche have run test cars with and without the new tech and the end result is that the machines with everything you have just read about are significantly faster than those without. Weight saving has occurred, just take a look at those forged wheels, but it has been canceled out by some of the new toys that are there to make you go faster.
This car will no doubt have people arguing for a long time to come, but it is fair to say that Porsche justifies these radical changes rather well. Is it change for the better? We shall just have to wait until Porsche hand over the keys to find out.