As expected, the latest Porsche 911 GT3 drops a traditional manual transmission in favor of a PDK dual-clutch unit. Purists might bemoan the lack of row-your-own gears, but the truth is the 911 GT3 is designed for maximum lap times -- Porsche says 80 percent of GT3 owners use their cars on a track. The PDK shifts faster than you ever will, and it never misses a gearchange, so it's installed as standard on this model. The 911 GT3 debuts at the Geneva Motor Show with a heroic list of upgrades designed to make the 991-generation of Porsche's sports car an even better performance machine.
The Porsche 911 GT3's track inclinations are immediately clear from the tall, adjustable carbon-fiber wing; the center-lock 20-inch wheels; and the new front fascia with larger air intakes. A three-part front splitter works with an underbody tray and the big wing to reduce lift and keep the car planted at speed. The 911 GT3 also stands out from the Carrera S on which it is based thanks to standard LED headlights, and rear haunches flared by 1.7 inches.
The 3.8-liter flat-six engine is also based on that of the standard Carrera S but with significant upgrades. The pistons are forged, the valves are hollow titanium, it uses dry-sump oiling for better performance on a track, and it has the first application of direct injection in a GT3 car. Various changes in materials and construction make the new engine is 55 pounds lighter than that of the last GT3.
The engine produces 469 hp at a lofty 8250 rpm and 324 lb-ft of torque at 6250 rpm, with a 9000-rpm redline. Porsche says the 62 mph arrives in 3.5 seconds and the top speed is 196 mph, besting the old 911 GT3 by 0.6 second and 3 mph, respectively.
Porsche's active engine mounts are standard, which harden for better performance in sporty driving but soften to reduce harshness at idle or in normal driving. A special air intake on the car's decklid provides a ram-air effect, and a new plastic intake manifold is lighter than the previous aluminum one. The sports exhaust once again can be opened further at the push of a button. Normally, two front silencers help keep noise to a road-legal level, but opening them adds an extra 26 lb-ft of torque between 3000 and 4000 rpm.
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has specially lightened internals (saving 4.4 pounds), more aggressive gear ratios, and a final-drive ratio 15 percent shorter than that in the standard 911 Carrera S. The standard mode is called Sport, while switching to Race Track mode reduces shift times to less than 100 milliseconds. The transmission can be left to change gear automatically, or controlled by steering-wheel paddle shifters or by moving the shift lever.
Interestingly, drivers can still operate the clutch by pulling both shift paddles simultaneously. This so-called paddle-neutral feature is designed to allow for coasting in case the car is sliding, or to deliberately unsettle the driveline and induce oversteer.
To set a Nuerburgring lap time of under 7:30, the Porsche 911 GT3 also needed changes to its suspension and brakes. The most notable upgrade is rear-wheel steering, which can alter the angle of the rear wheels by up to 1.5 degrees. Below 31 mph, the system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the fronts to effectively shorten the car's wheelbase by 5.9 and provide sharper cornering. Above 50 mph, the rear wheels turn in parallel with the fronts for greater high-speed stability.
The car itself rides 1.2 inches lower than a Carrera S, with Porsche's PASM adaptive dampers fitted as standard. Lighter springs and more aluminum components cut almost seven pounds from the front suspension, while a new rear multi-link arrangement uses hollow aluminum components that trim 8.6 pounds.
The 20-inch wheels are made from forged aluminum so even though they are one inch larger in diameter, and the fronts are 0.5 inch wider than before, the wheels and tires are still lighter than those on the outgoing GT3. Lightweight composite brake discs are standard. The GT3 also features Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, which includes an electronically locking rear differential and computer programming that can brake one of the rear wheels to shift power to the tire with the most traction.
Real Racing Version
The introduction of a new road-going model means Porsche has also updated its GT3 Cup racing car. Available only to teams registered in this year's Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, the race car weighs only 2585 pounds and its 3.8-liter engine produces 453 hp. It's the first Porsche Cup race car with a drive-by-wire throttle, and the car also gains steering-wheel paddle shifters for the six-speed sequential transmission. Other upgrades include a roll cage, data logger, bespoke suspension upgrades, a special 26-gallon racing fuel tank, built-in air jacks, and Michelin race tires on 18-inch wheels.