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As journalists, we’re accustomed to hearing well thought out, carefully planned marketing spin from expertly trained PR professionals. And we’re usually very good at ignoring it. We smile at the nice PR rep, grab the keys, and formulate our own opinion.
Porsche reps don’t give us lines of BS, though – their company is one of precious few that sell their cars based on engineering merit, not marketing slogans. So when Porsche product reps speak, we listen. And when they say that the GT3 is the closest thing to a race car you can get for the street, they ain’t kidding.
We all know that the 911 is the quintessential sports car. You’ve heard us say it over and over again. It’s an everyday supercar. It’s rewarding, capable, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Well, I’ve just driven the 911 GT3 on the track, and to hell with everyday cars. To hell with supercars. In fact, to hell with my own personal 911. By comparison, the GT3 makes it (and just about every other car on the planet) feel like a softly sprung Buick Roadmaster.
I’ve driven open-wheel cars with less communicative steering. I’ve driven race cars whose engine sounded only a fraction as testosterone-laden as a GT3’s. But I have never, ever driven a car that likes to dance like the GT3.
The GT3’s handling is so fluid it could win Dancing With the Stars. Its engine sings so powerfully that it could win American Idol. And it’s so down-to-business that it would win The Apprentice in one episode.
On the track, its 415-hp, 3.6-liter flat-six pulls to its 8400-rpm redline, gear after gear, with such smoothness you can’t believe it’s not butter. And with such immediacy that you can’t believe it’s not turbocharged. Cornering grip is blackout-inducing, thanks in part to the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, but even still, there is no body roll. None – not even during tank-slapper slides that would send ordinary 911s into orbit. A little opposite lock and some carefully applied throttle will pull you through, as if the GT3 were a go-kart.
With that said, the GT3 is a neutrally balanced race car, which means that oversteer is always one little mistake away. For an experienced racecar driver, it’s a tool to help turn the car. For an inexperienced driver, it could be disastrous, especially because Porsche Stability Control isn’t an option on the GT3.
Luckily, my drive didn’t end disastrously. But unlucky for me, I got to drive the GT3 in the first session in the morning at Barber Motorsports Park, a track I had never before driven. As I became more familiar with the track in successive sessions – in a Cayman, a Boxster S, a 911 Targa 4S, and finally a 911 Turbo – my lap times got faster and faster.
But not once – not for a second – did I smile the way I did while driving the GT3. Not even when the Turbo’s monstrous boost slingshot me out of second-gear corners. The Marketing Guys might tell me that the Turbo is the flagship of the 911 lineup, that it’s almost as fast as the GT3 around a track, and that it makes a better daily driver. But on the track, there is simply no contest.
I’m ruined for life; I might never enjoy driving another car on the track again. The GT3 is that good. And that’s definitely no line of marketing BS.