Opinion: The 991 GT3 is as close to perfect as Porsche has ever got
The Total 911 data file contains, at present, 17 five-star cars. Among them, the Porsche 991 GT3 is the only standard GT3 to garner this illustrious rating, an impressive feat given that the list is littered with a combined total of ten more illustrious Turbo S and Rennsport models.
You may think that, among legendary renditions of the 911 formula like the 2.7 Carrera RS and the 997 GT3 RS 4.0, the Porsche 991 GT3 would pale in comparison. However, on the contrary, I feel that it is the closest to perfect Stuttgart has come since 1963.
I admit that this is a huge statement to make but hear me out. I am, for once, not trying to provoke controversy. After the self-immolating faux pas last year, the 991 GT3 has developed a tainted reputation among 911 fans and that needs to change.
After getting to test the latest GT3’s abilities on track in Germany last August, this week I’ve been lucky enough to take delivery of a Comfort-spec 991 GT3 which I have used to blast around the roads local to the Total 911 office here in the UK.
To say it has been a revelation would be an understatement. It has been like the second coming of Christ. Okay, that’s maybe a bit too much hyperbole but I am completely smitten with the Porsche 991 GT3 and here’s why…
The Hans Mezger-designed powerplant fitted to previous generations of GT3 developed a legendary reputation (and still continues to be used in the factory RSRs) yet, with the introduction of the 9A1-derived unit I am not mourning the passing of his eponymous flat six.
Words really cannot do justice to the aural delight that accompanies a 991 GT3 scorching its way to 9,000rpm, punctured by a heady crack as the PDK gearbox snicks through an almost seamless shift. It’s pure Porsche theatre of the very best kind.
With every blast of visceral acceleration by pulses races in time with the tacho and any memories of the engine problems that plagued early cars are forgotten in an instant.
Like the switch from the Mezger, Weissach’s decision to make the 991 GT3 PDK-only didn’t win it many fans. Yet, like many of my fellow motoring hacks, I couldn’t imagine this car with a manual gearbox.
Such is the keenness of the 3.8-litre motor, adding me into the drivetrain’s equation would only serve to bugger things up (no matter how good I think I am at stirring a stick).
What’s more, the GT3 is meant to embody the very essence of Weissach’s motorsport pedigree. That I grip the 991’s Alcantara steering wheel and pull a paddle to shift means that (in my head at least) I am able to accurately mimic the exploits of Nick Tandy and the rest of the factory RSR drivers. Cool? Yes!
Then there’s the handling. After a swathe of Carreras and Turbos, I had to remind myself that the 991 GT3’s steering remains electrically assisted. Such is the weight and feel of the system, I seriously thought Porsche had given my press car a hydraulic system when I first jumped in.
With rear-wheel steering (incredibly unobtrusive, in my opinion) the Porsche 991 GT3’s chassis is a marvel. Like on track, it is so playful, rewarding skilled drivers and punishing those who don’t know who to drive a 911 built in the true spirit of Ferry.
Unlike every other 991, the latest 911 GT3 is a truly tricky proposition to pilot and that is its greatest strength. It is a proper sports car, requiring your full attention and just at home on track as blasting through your favourite lanes.
However, and this is the bit that makes it nearly perfect. With the PDK gearbox and some impressive suspension tuning, the 991 GT3 is the first GT variant to Porsche that I would seriously consider using every day.
Yes, there’s a lot more road chatter than a Turbo or Carrera but all great sports cars should feel like stallions rather than Shetland ponies, in my opinion. You’ve just got to live with it and, with the addition of a front-lift kit, the 991 GT3 can still negotiate your local high street.
For £100,540 (only a little bit more than a well-optioned 991 Carrera S) the GT3 offers everything that a true Porsche fan would want. If you only had one space in the garage, this is the car that should be in it.
Now, this isn’t to say that the car is 100 per cent. The engine idle is lumpy, the PDK lets the clutch slip too much, making parking a bit tricky, and passengers don’t seem to enjoy the bumpy ride as much as I do.
In the four days I’ve had it, it has also gone through more gallons of fuel than I’ve had hot dinners. However, I haven’t helped myself. The car just wants you to grab it by the scruff of the neck and scream off towards the horizon via the most twisting route possible before happily trundling home when you’re worn out.
It’s easy to criticise the car from the sidelines but, once you’ve drive the 991 GT3 you’ll undoubtedly join me in saying it is as close to perfect as Porsche has ever come with the 911.