First Drive: 2010 Porsche 911 GT3

Sucking in an atomized air/fuel mixture the old-fashioned way, the flat six now revs to 8500 rpm, 100 rpm higher than before and 1000 rpm past the Carrera's redline. It produces 435 hp, an increase of 20, thanks not only to the additional 197 cc but also variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust tracts. Although the 3.8 retains its predecessor's impressive specific output of 115 hp per liter, it's been tuned for more midrange punch, making it more lively at around-town engine speeds. Despite the variable valve timing, a four-stage intake manifold, and a two-stage exhaust system - all of which help fatten the torque curve - the GT3's engine still needs to be revved to extract its full firepower.

The six-speed manual Getrag transmission (Carrera manuals are manufactured by Aisin) is a high-efficiency unit that allows for the replacement of individual gears to suit the speed requirements of different racetracks. Shift effort is very high - in fact, a little unpleasantly so in traffic - due to the transmission's more durable steel (instead of conventional brass) synchronizer rings and a shifter whose throws are only about half as short as those in the Carrera. According to Porsche engineers, the effort will relax as the transmission breaks in, but even still, the heavy shifter is matched in feel to the heavy clutch.

Purists might notice that we didn't mention the PDK. Indeed, Porsche's dual-clutch transmission isn't available on the GT3. As good as it is (and it's one of the best), real Porsche racing cars don't have transmissions that can shift by themselves, and engineering appropriate longevity into a sequential race box for use on the street would be too difficult, so this 911 keeps a real manual. We applaud Porsche's engineers fortheir decision.

Like before, the GT3 comes standard with PASM suspension, which uses recalibrated computer-controlled Bilstein dampers that are continually, and steplessly, adjusted during driving. The system has two modes - normal and sport, the latter giving slightly better performance only on the smoothest tracks. Multiple upgrades were made to the suspension, including increasing the front spring rate and size of the rear antiroll bar. The brake discs on all GT3s now measure an enormous 15.0 inches in the frontand 13.8 inches out back, with aluminum hubs that eliminate five pounds of rotatingunsprung mass. Carbon-ceramic brakes are, as before, an expensive option, but they savean astonishing 44 pounds overall.

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