If turbochargers, hybrid systems, electric cars, self-driving, and downsizing engines are what’s in, then what is the new Porsche 911 GT3 doing without any of that stuff? The answer is: It’s winning enthusiast hearts.
In the 911 lineup, the GT3 is the model that provides a direct link to racing. While the Carrera and Carrera S have turbochargers and, of course, the Turbo has turbochargers, the GT3 persists with a high-revving naturally aspirated engine. It’s a car that a small group of engineers in Weissach has preserved with meticulous updates.
We met with GT3 chief engineer Andreas Preuninger to ride along in a development prototype of the upcoming GT3. The car we rode in wore camouflage (as you can see in some of the photos), but a few weeks after our ride Porsche took off the wraps and unveiled the car. The design is aggressive and helps the GT3 stand apart from the more daily-friendly 911s. Note that the rear wing is mounted at the top, as we’ve seen on the McLaren Senna and numerous race cars. Hanging the wing from above provides an aerodynamic advantage over one mounted on the underside with conventional pylons.
It’s time to step inside. The seats are great, grippy, clad in microfiber, with no wiggle room but not uncomfortably tight either. The regular 911’s silly automatic shifter is gone. It’s been replaced by a gear selector that lets you select gears like a real sequential gearbox: Push to downshift, pull to upshift.
Porsche appears to have listened to GT3 customers who voiced a preference for console shifters over steering-wheel paddles. While Preuninger prefers the console shifter, the GT3 retains its wheel paddles, too. For the real purists, the GT3 will still be available with a six-speed manual. Along with a short-throw shifter, the manual has a rev-match function that can be turned on or off independently of any other mode, but it’s more fun to blip the throttle on heel-and-toe downshifts without the electronic help, right?
The digital instrument displays are changed in the GT3, too. In the regular 992, the outermost gauges are obscured by the fat rim of the steering wheel. In the GT3, to make the information easier to read, there is a GT setting that moves the most relevant information closer to the center-mounted tachometer.
Porsche isn’t ready to disclose all the details on the engine. We’re sure no current GT3 owner will be disappointed, but maybe they’ll be devastated. In the new GT3, the naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six builds upon the 991 Speedster engine’s six individual throttle bodies, giving the engine crisp, instant, and aggressive response to pedal commands. Power delivery is forceful and beautifully smooth up to the lofty 9000-rpm redline. We expect more than 500 horsepower, and the engine sound is jubilant and clear.
Its multilink front suspension is derived from the RSR race car. From the passenger seat, it appears that the new GT3 turns in sharply and body control is exceptional. The brakes appear track ready. Iron brake rotors are standard, slightly larger ceramic brakes are optional. This generation ditches the dynamic engine mounts. Conventional mounts won out and are lighter than the electronically controlled ones. Speaking of weight, the hood and engine cover are made of carbon fiber and the rear windows—at least in Europe—have thinner glass.
Beyond the regular GT3, Porsche will offer a Touring model again, inspired by the iconic 911 R, devoid of the big wing but with the same mechanical bits. This time around Porsche will let Touring buyers have an automatic transmission, the brand’s superb PDK. Previously, the Touring came only with the six-speed manual. And we expect a harder-core RS model down the road as well.
Preuninger’s team has produced a car that bucks the latest trends. And at the same time, they have created a purer, more aggressive, and captivating GT3. We can’t wait to drive it for ourselves.
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