2018 Porsche 911 GT3
If normal Porsche 911s are All-American athletes, then the GT3 is a gold medal Olympic sprinter, a hard-core, track-focused sports car that takes performance to the next level. It boasts 500 horsepower, and the ability to conquer Germany's famed Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit in under 7 minutes 30 seconds.
With gaping front air inlets and an enormous spoiler mounted on the rear deck, the GT3's exterior is all about business - the business of speed, that is. Downforce and stability at extra-legal speeds are enhanced by the spoiler and numerous other aero devices, while the intakes ensure that the hot-headed 4.0-liter flat-six engine keeps its cool in even the most extreme conditions.
While most of the 911 lineup is going turbo, the GT3 carries on with an evolution of the naturally-aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine that powered Porsche's track cars. However, nearly all components have been replaced or enhanced for GT3 duty, with items like upgraded cylinder heads, forged aluminum pistons, titanium connecting rods and dry sump lubrication resulting in 500 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and 339 pound-feet of torque.
Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual transmission, and an ultra-quick seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with extra-short gear ratios. The dual-clutch can be shifted by the driver via steering wheel-mounted paddles, or left to its own devices.
Even though the rear-wheel-drive GT3 lacks the grip of the 911 Turbo, which puts its power to the pavement with all four wheels, zero-to-60 mph still comes in just 3.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of 197 mph. Selecting the manual adds 0.6 seconds to the zero-to-60 time.
Of course, the GT3 is about more than straight-line speed, with a lowered, stiffened chassis complete with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive dampers ensuring impressively quick responses to control inputs. A four-wheel steering system further improves handling at lower speeds while also providing heightened stability at highway velocities.
The standard Sport Chrono Package brings a combination digital/analog stopwatch mounted atop the dashboard for recording lap times, as well as dynamic engine mounts that enhance stability.
As if that weren't enough technology, a Torque Vectoring Plus system with an electronic rear differential brakes the inside rear wheel in turns to ensure neutral dynamics in turns.
Notably, while other 911 models deliver a fairly compliant ride, the GT3's suspension tuning means that bumps and potholes are rather pronounced, making it less attractive as a daily driver.
The Inside Story
Luxury sedan-grade materials and design characterize the cabin, with a nearly unlimited range of options - including extended leather, several seat designs, numerous colors and aluminum, carbon fiber and wood trims - available to suit the buyer's taste. Accouterments such as heated/ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel and a high-end Burmester sound system are also available to please sybarites.
A sloping center console marks a departure from previous GT3s, bringing an elegant look and a more convenient gearshifter location at the expensive of a somewhat more constricted cabin feel. Still, space and comfort are in ample supply for the front seat passengers; the tiny, vestigial rear seats remain most useful as a supplement to the 5.1-cubic-foot front trunk.
Standard and Optional Features
The GT3 is fitted as standard with a navigation system with a seven-inch display screen, a 12-speaker Bose AM/FM/CD stereo with USB and AUX inputs, combination leather/Alcantara upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, adaptive bi-xenon headlights heated exterior mirrors and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Options include heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, a 12-speaker Burmester premium sound system, front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof and several alternate wheel designs.
Carbon ceramic brakes can be specified for drivers desirous of shorter stopping distances and reduced fade.
An available front axle lift system raises the front end by 30mm at the touch of a button, reducing the chance of costly encounters will steep driveways, speed bumps and the like.
All GT3 models are fitted as standard with dual front, front side, front knee and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Available as an option is a forward collision warning and mitigation system. It warns the driver in the event of an impending collision and, if necessary, can apply the brakes to prevent or mitigate the severity of a crash.
Alternatives to the hard-charging GT3 include the Nissan GT-R, which is less refined but also cheaper and more powerful; the less athletic but alluringly styled Audi R8; and the analog, old-fashioned (in the best possible way) Aston Martin V12 Vantage.