Benchmarks: We Drive Every Porsche 911 GT3 Generation

The Starting: 996.1

The Porsche 911 GT3 story begins with this automobile. Launched in 1999, it was primarily a components bin particular—a efficiency 911 cobbled collectively utilizing bits and items from different fashions. The brakes have been lifted from the 996-series Turbo, the wheels have been a Porsche Unique possibility obtainable throughout the 911 vary, as was the biplane rear wing with its curlicue stanchions. Mounted again sports activities buckets changed the usual entrance seats. The rear seats have been eliminated to save lots of weight, together with the air con, sunroof, and the audio system’s rear loudspeakers. A special entrance splitter, some facet skirts, and a GT3 badge on the rounded rump accomplished the transformation.

It’s arduous to think about now, however Porsche didn’t have a ton of cash when this automobile was developed. Porsche R&D chief Horst Marchart, the person who’d designed the 996-series 911 in order that a lot of its entrance physique construction and different components may very well be used to create—at low value—the Boxster, spent correctly, nevertheless, making a powerplant that used components from the air-cooled, dry-sump race engines developed by legendary engineer Hans Mezger, however with water-cooled cylinders and heads. It developed 355 hp, 60 hp greater than the usual 996 engine.

Not surprisingly, it’s the engine that immediately defines the 996.1 GT3. Charismatic and characterful, with a precision to the throttle response that few engines can match even immediately, it’s fluid and versatile and clean all the best way to the 7,600-rpm redline, the barrel-chested roar that’s the signature tune of previous 911s filling the cabin because the revs rise. “The engine actually talks to you,” Porsche GT boss Andy Preuninger says. He’s proper.

In contrast with immediately’s GT3 guide, the transmission has a protracted throw and a large gate. You must take some time with it. The remainder of the automobile seems like a barely sharper model of a daily 996, the entrance axle bob-bob-bobbing over imperfections within the highway whereas the rear finish rumbas. The dynamics remind you ways far 911s have developed over the previous 20 years—the 996 will push on nook entry except you raise off barely to load the entrance tires. Then it’s again on the gasoline to stroll the tightrope between understeer and oversteer.

It’s a visit again in time, this automobile; nearly any fashionable 911 could be faster and extra composed on any given highway. However this ur-GT3 stays probably the most essential 911s ever constructed.

The Candy Spot: 997.1

If the 996.1 911 GT3 was all concerning the engine, within the 997.1 what we now perceive because the essence of the GT3 idea began to coalesce. The surgical readability of its transmission, steering, brakes, pedal weights and heights, and general chassis steadiness represented a transparent step-change from its common 997 911 siblings. However the engine was nonetheless the center of the automobile, the water-cooled 3.6-liter flat-six boasting a brand new consumption and a brand new exhaust in contrast with the 996 variations. Official output was 415 hp, although Preuninger admits some engines made near 430 hp.

It feels totally different from the impressively linear 996.1’s powertrain. There’s a refined surge from 4,000 rpm, the timbre of the exhaust turning into extra resonant, and the sensitivity to throttle inputs extra apparent. Whereas the 996.1 engine would rev to 7,600 rpm, the 997.1 engine redlines at 8,400 rpm. Though preternaturally clean and tractable all through the rev vary, it begs to be taken to six,000 rpm and past, a precision instrument that joyously rewards you with racecar ranges of response.

The six-speed guide transmission has a rifle-bolt motion, with a brief throw and a mechanical really feel. The brakes—this was the primary 911 GT3 provided with Porsche’s PCCB carbon-ceramic setup—react immediately to stress on the pedal, hauling the automobile down from triple-digit speeds with unquenchable authority. And there’s far more suggestions from the entrance finish than within the 996, extra preliminary response and extra sustained grip, the dialog between tire and tarmac extra clearly telegraphed by the Alcantara-covered rim of the steering wheel.

The 997 redesign removed the awkward “fried egg: mixed headlight and switch sign graphic of the 996 and commenced to intensify the hips over the rear wheels. The rear graphic seemed related, however the engine cowl flowed into the rear bumper floor fairly than capping it, making the automobile look sleeker from the facet. And, in fact, the 997 was the primary 911 GT3 to have its exhaust retailers on the heart of the automobile. That’s now a GT3 trademark. One other GT3 trademark pioneered by the 997 is the intensive use of Alcantara inside.

Launched in 2006, immediately that is in some ways the sweet-spot GT3, far more reasonably priced than the later 4.Zero and, in fact, the 991 fashions. Whereas the 996 GT3 seems like a traditional automobile and calls for to be pushed accordingly, the 997 911 GT3 feels fashionable. And it’s nonetheless quicker and extra rewarding on a enjoyable highway than many a lot youthful sports activities vehicles.



The Benchmark 991.1

Controversy dogged this 911 GT3 when Porsche revealed it on the 2013 Geneva Show. The 991-series Porsche 911 on which it was primarily based was greater and heavier than the 997. The legendary Mezger engine, which traced its origins all the best way again to racing Porsches of the ’80s, had been changed by a brand new 3.8-liter direct-injection flat-six that developed 475 hp. And there was no guide transmission; a specifically calibrated model of Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch automated guide was the one selection. The ability steering was electrical. It had rear-wheel steering.

The purists have been outraged. Till they drove it.

It simply takes one run to 9,000 rpm in third gear to remind you why the 991 Porsche 911 GT3 rapidly silenced the recent take specialists. The engine’s energy supply is so linear, proper from idle, and it by no means appears to expire of revs. And the noise! The pressing, edgy snarl of the flat-six will get a steely, manic edge over 7,000 rpm. It’s epic, nearly classic 911, with a digitally remastered trace of air-cooled clatter. There may be nothing else prefer it.

It’s not till you drive them again to again that you simply perceive precisely how the 991 makes the 997 really feel a little bit looser, a little bit lazier. It’s not simply the manic response of that engine, particularly when it’s in its joyful place, with the tach needle dancing above the 8,000-rpm mark. It’s the broader observe on the entrance. And the rear-wheel steering. Particularly the rear-wheel steering.

The 991 911 GT3 feels a lot sharper on preliminary turn-in, each by way of steering response and the best way the tires chunk than any previous-generation 911. However what makes the entrance finish work so brilliantly is the rear-wheel steering, which not solely helps provoke a speedy change in course however then works to counter the pendulum impact inherent in a chassis with the engine slung out behind the rear axle. It permits you to exploit the benefits of the 911’s distinctive structure, particularly its traction out of corners whereas minimizing the disadvantages.

In 2018 the 991 GT3 received a brand new 4.0-liter engine with a brand new crankshaft, new valvetrain, and a brand new consumption system. Energy went as much as 494 hp at 8,250 rpm. The engine mods and a whole lot of different element tweaks helped make 991.2 much more responsive and extra exhilarating to drive than the 991.1. And now the 991.2 GT3 is about to get replaced by the 992 GT3.

It’s arduous to think about how the 2021 Porsche 911 GT3 may very well be a greater automobile than the prevailing mannequin. However the man chargeable for how the last word driver’s 911 has developed over the previous twenty years is assured we’ll approve. “It’ll be the very best GT3 ever,” Preuninger says, “as a result of will probably be the most recent one I’ve performed. I all the time say that, and I by no means lie.”

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