2004 Porsche 911 GT3

Greg Anderson
Tim Andrew
Full Front View

Perhaps the reason for the engine noise was the notable lack of wind noise. The slick 0.30 drag coefficient is the same as that of the Carrera, but less air makes its way under the car, thanks to a one-inch-lower ride height and a low front spoiler lip. The result is zero lift, for good high-speed stability, which we verified repeatedly. At high speeds, the obnoxious rear spoiler becomes a guardian angel watching your back. Like everything else on the car, the spoiler is functional, significantly increasing downforce over the rear axle.

Several ventures into sixth gear were required before we found enough steady, traffic-free, runwaylike pavement to attempt a top-speed test. The faster you go, the more planted the car becomes, which is a good thing to keep in mind while pinning the pedal to the floor for extended periods.

The GT3 does more than go straight, of course. The Michelin Pilot Sports (235/40ZR-18 fronts, 295/30ZR-18 rears) are mounted on wide wheels (8.5 inches up front, 11.0 inches at the rear), and they maintain adhesion almost effortlessly. What's happening to the front contact patches is transmitted directly through the GT3's three-spoke steering wheel via Porsche-patented magic, although we noticed some kickback on a couple of rutted secondary roads. The race-tuned ride, courtesy of adjust-able anti-roll bars and firmed-up springs and dampers, was predictably harsh over the bumps, but it probably would feel right at home on a racetrack. Height-adjustable spring plates make it easy to lower the car even more, but for road use, the factory setup is low-and stiff-enough.

Speedometer View

We were moved-both literally and figuratively-by the GT3's accelerator but positively dumbfounded by its brakes. The GT3, equipped with optional ceramic composite rotors, will change the way you think about stopping distances. Pouncing from turn to turn up and down the steep Passo di San Boldo, our test car's brakes never exhibited the slightest fade. Although the inner-vented and cross-drilled ceramic rotors have a tendency to squeal when clamped by the six-piston front and four-piston rear monoblock calipers, they scrubbed speed effortlessly, hairpin after hairpin. The ceramic rotors are lighter than the standard metal items by almost 40 unsprung pounds, which is the difference between playing basketball in cement boots or in a pair of Nike Air Zoom Ultralights. The ceramic rotors also will lighten your piggy bank by $8150, but it's money well spent.

Money not so well spent would include the $28,000 worth of other options for the GT3, most of which add weight. The few performance-oriented upgrades, such as the roll cage, will not be available outside Europe, sadly enough. Americans also won't be able to delete the air conditioning or radio, such is our love for staying cool and listening to tunes. The real tragedy, however, is that the lightweight one-piece Recaro seats have not been certified for use in the States. (There's nothing to stop you from importing and installing them yourself.) Our advice: Deny your desire for gray or brown natural leather ($4430) and the carbon fiber trim package ($6220), and splurge on the ceramic brakes. Performance never goes out of style, and those bright yellow calipers will add a lot of charm. Of the 2500 GT3s that Porsche is scheduled to build, 750 have been allocated to North America. We'd love to see them all wearing yellow calipers.

Rear Spoiler View

We'd also love to jump behind the wheel of a GT3 and run it to top speed every day, although such practice is not officially recommended by our cardiologist. But it's infinitely more satisfying than an early-morning jog, and there's less chance of being bitten by a canine.

The GT3 may be the sharpest normally aspirated 911 you can buy, but it comes across as a puppy, albeit one with a Rottweiler's teeth. Like the GT2, this car is proof that Porsche still builds 911s that satisfy the purist without pandering to a wider audience.

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