Unimpeachable traction, lightning-quick shifts and incredible response maintain the Porsche 911 GT3’s reputation as one of the finest road-legal performance cars you can buy.
In 2021, Porsche brought us its latest GT3 based on the 992 911. In typical style, its evolution has been carefully managed, sharing its basic underlying chassis and naturally aspirated powertrains with the previous 991. Yet while the 992’s subtle on-paper changes might not appear to be significant, its big improvement against the stopwatch around a certain German track reveals the detail changes that make the 992 GT3 more capable than ever before.
It’s tempting just to say ‘see previous generation’ for the drivetrain, because much of the drivetrain is very familiar. But that’s a good thing. Compared to the previous GT3 unit, the MDG.G 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six engine now has individual throttle bodies and the exhaust system gains gas particulate filters, but there’s a new rear silencer that is 10kg lighter.
In other words it is all but identical to the engine found in the old 991 Speedster. Outputs are slightly higher at 375kW and 470Nm and represent only tiny rises for a model with low figures in its group of supercar rivals, but we’d challenge you to drive a GT3 on track and wish for an extra 100kW.
Both transmissions are also unique in the 992 range of the GT3 in comparison to Carrera and Turbo models. They’re older units that are a ratio down in both cases, but have been used due their lower weights and tighter packaging. The older PDK also has a physical shift lever rather than the toggle most 992s utilise, which doesn’t just give you a second option for up and downshifts, but is also the preference of Porsche GT boss Andreas Preuninger.
A lot of effort has been put into three main areas of the chassis – weight saving, aerodynamics and suspension. Things such as the lightweight glass, new front wheels, new rear fascia, LiFePO4 battery and carbon frunk lid have all helped save weight compared to the previous-generation GT3. The end result is that, despite the 992 being a fundamentally heavier car, the latest GT3 weighs 1435kg with the PDK ’box. That’s a mere 5kg more than the old car.
The aerodynamics, however, are significantly better. The adoption of a swan-neck rear wing and an impressive rear diffuser have helped improve the downforce by 50 per cent at 124mph. However, both the wing and the front splitter are manually adjustable, and if you put them into their more aggressive settings then the car generates 385kg of downforce, which is 150 per cent more than the old car. In fact, it is more than the old RS.
Yet the biggest talking point has been the front suspension. It is now a double wishbone set-up rather than MacPherson struts – something only seen on 911 race cars before. This suspension design has allowed Porsche’s engineers to increase camber stiffness, and give the front tyres a far more consistent surface patch with the road, even under extreme cornering forces. The connections are all ball joints on the front, too, which goes some way to explaining the large amounts of road and suspension noise.
Porsche offers two OE tyre options – a Pirelli P Zero for everyday road use, or a Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 for track use. Such is the advance in the Cup’s wet and cold weather capability, these can be used in everyday driving, but the higher limits of grip actually make the Pirelli the tyre of choice for pure entertainment, revealing more of the GT3’s inherent balance.
Subtle rises in power and torque don’t really bring about substantial improvements in acceleration times, so the 0-100km/h time and top speed for the PDK-equipped car are identical to before at 3.4sec and 318km/h. Manual cars take an extra 0.5sec to reach 100km/h, and to hit that sub-4sec time it’ll take some aggressive shifting.
Day-to-day, the GT3’s on-road performance is exactly as the numbers suggest. The relatively meek 470Nm of torque doesn’t imbue the low- and mid-range with a whole lot of poke – a well driven on-boost hot hatchback will likely get the run on you. Until you breach 4500rpm. Beyond this point, the engine starts to really pull, and rather than dropping off as it reaches the climax of its 9000rpm red line, it’ll keep going. In fact, the engine speeds are so high that your ear and instincts tell you to change up far before the limiter arrives.
Manual cars accentuate this feeling of endless revs with their long gear ratios, a problem that’s apparent in most Porsche GT products fitted with a manual transmission. Porsche’s GT department insists that it’s a response to continually tightening emissions regulations, and that it’s either these gear ratios or no manual option at all.
You can, if you want, sit really low in the 992 and it sets the tone nicely. The gear selector is momentarily baffling because it looks remarkably like it should move around a manual gate rather than activate a PDK ’box. Also new to this 992 is a Track Screen option, which distils the digital dash in front of you down to just the essential information. Overall it’s a really good, ergonomically pleasing place to be, although I’d quite like an option to delete the main central screen if you spec the Club Sport pack.
Familiar though it may be, the noise when you start up the new GT3 is just wonderful. The fact that Porsche has stuck to its guns, not gone chasing kilowatts and managed to maintain a naturally aspirated engine in the face of increasingly awkward legislation is to be applauded. Even before you begin driving quickly, there is plenty to enjoy just listening to the way the engine makes its way up through the revs and responds to different throttle openings.
The steering initially feels quite light around the dead ahead, but the response of the front end is incredible. And once loaded, there is all the information you could wish for from the Alcantara-clad wheel. Load up the nose and at the point where you feel like a 911 should start pushing wide, the 992 just seems to lean into its tyres a bit more and keep on digging for grip.
The rear is the same – it is utterly tenacious and it takes a concerted effort to unstick the 315-section Cup 2s. Even when you do breach the limit of grip, it’s only with a firm foot on the throttle that you’ll keep it oversteering – waver for a moment and it will straighten up smartly. Such is the response and tenacity that you find yourself driving incredibly quickly and smoothly with huge confidence. The stability is just so reassuring that you can really commit to corners and you know that the shifts from the PDK ’box are so smooth that they will never unsettle the car. Braking is phenomenal, too, allowing you to push right up to and into the ABS with a real feel for the limit.
Raise your speeds and things come together more; it almost feels like the car needs load to settle the corners of the car and give you the confidence to push right to its upper limits. The journey to get there takes some real dedication, though, especially on the Cup 2s. At this pace, there’s so much mechanical grip that it feels almost antisocial, the engine behind at its full volume. It almost feels like a GT3 Cup car on the road – which is kind of the point. Yet with that, some of the delicious delicacy previous GT3s gave you when not driving on the absolute limit isn’t there.
It’s interesting the different feel that you get from the double wishbone front end, too; the vertical motions of the wheels are clearly transmitted as soon as you’re moving, giving quite a fluid feel through the steering, but the sense of connection between tyre and road surface only really comes alive when you push harder.
The GT3’s interior doesn’t vary widely from the basic 911’s, which means the fundamentals are sound. Its bespoke elements are welcome, though, the main point being a very subtle selection of yellow touches around the gear selector, rev counter and badging. As mentioned above, the PDK’s selector is an old-school lever wrapped in Alcantara. Aside from the slightly off-centre placement, it looks identical to the manual, save for the shift pattern.
You can sit extremely low in the GT3, with a steering wheel that’s both smaller and slightly thicker than in a base 911. It comes out at you at a nearly 90-degree angle, if you sit low enough, and the pedals are absolutely perfectly placed in both PDK and manual set-ups.
All GT3s come with a black leather and fabric interior trim with silver stitching, but blue or red stitching can be added from the standard options list. Touring models take a slightly different direction, with extended use of leather on the dash and door cards in a pleated pattern. This is joined by a more understated dark-finish brushed aluminium trim, replacing the standard-fit matt carbon.
If you want to go off the beaten track inside, Porsche’s Exclusive department will allow you to finish the interior in any number of leather or fabric options, including a huge range of heritage fabric inserts. Build quality is typically superb, so you won’t feel short-changed inside.
The GT3’s tech is also pretty top-notch, with Porsche’s PCM system versatile, easy to use and nice to look at. Apple CarPlay is available, if you so wish. As mentioned earlier, one recommendation we would make is to try to spec the upgraded BOSE sound system, as the basic unit is barely audible over the GT3’s fairly prominent road noise.
The 992 GT3 also gives its lucky buyers more choice than ever, with both six-speed manual and seven-speed PDK transmission options, as well as a return of the wingless Touring model, itself also available with both transmissions. Make use of the huge options list, and you can also tune the GT3 pretty much exactly to your taste, whether that be a stripped-out hardcore track day monster to pretty much the perfect high-performance road car.
Porsche will charge a base price of $369,700 before on-road costs for the 992 GT3 regardless of whether it’s the standard model or the Touring, or fitted with a six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK. Four non-metallic colours are standard – a basic white, black, plus Porsche’s Guards Red and Racing Yellow. A further five metallic options can be specified, and then one of the four ‘Special’ non-metallic can be optioned for $7500. Porsche can paint your GT3 either one of its Porsche Exclusive PTS (paint-to-sample) colours, or even a fully bespoke PTS shade, but these will cost both extra time and money.
It’s quite difficult to try to explain the almost cultish enthusiasm behind Porsche’s 911 GT3 to non-car people. But for everyone else, if you’re lucky enough to have spent some time behind the wheel of one, it’s not hard to see why it has such an intense following. The Porsche 911, an icon that’s cemented its place ever more steadfastly over 50 years as the ultimate sports car, is distilled, sharpened and presented in an exclusive package for those happy to part with a large sum of money for the privilege.