This is a good week. The new Porsche GT3 was officially launched, resplendent in its launch colour of Shark Blue. At first glance, the 992 version of the German manufacturer’s legendary homologation special, looks just as jaw-dropping as any that have gone before. It couldn’t be anything else.
We will see the first 992 GT3s reach these shores in May, delivered to those lucky few with the buying history and wherewithal to treat themselves. Much to my chagrin, I will not be amongst them.
I make no apologies for being a total Porschephile and GT3 is for me, the best car they make. Right the way back to the original 996, it has been an exceptional product. Developed and engineered with love and care by a dedicated team who live and breath Porsche GT cars. Every time a new one arrives, it raises the bar that little bit higher. I have been very lucky to have driven a vast array of Porsche cars and especially 911s. I have even been trusted to race an easy’65 car but for me, the highpoint has been the 991 911R. A car that could have been created just for me, it is just the right blend of everything that is Porsche. Beautifully tactile and alive it has a proper GT engine and the sweetest gear change. you could ever want. The GT3 Touring is as close to being the same car as makes no difference and I love them because they are so good on the road. It is a harder environment to get right as it is so much more complex than a circuit. To do that with a car that is so capable on a track is a work of absolute genius.
I digress… This is the seventh edition of the fabled GT benchmark and Porsche have worked tirelessly to keep the very essence of GT3s the same. This is a tall order given the increasingly stricter emissions laws. A lot of the engineering in road cars is forced in a certain direction by legislation, and quite rightly so. Unfortunately for drivers, the result hasn’t always been an improvement, as more and more layers of filtering and emission management dull the driving experience. The normal 992 Carreras are just as brilliant as ever but the sound is just that little duller and the car that bit heavier. Porsche engineers are alchemists and they manage to hide the vast majority of the compromises forced upon them but a GT isn’t supposed to be a compromise.
For that reason, I was worried about 992 GT3 and wondered if Porsche would be able to work their magic and allow the car to carry the baton of its heritage.
Well, I can now relax. The footage emerging from Stuttgart shows that the magic is very much alive in the 992. It looks, sounds and goes like a GT3. That spine-tingling, mechanical scream that is so unique to the car and one of the greatest automotive noises in history is still there. It has lapped the Ring in some ridiculous time and no doubt, true to form. it is a brilliant, useable road car to boot.
It looks fabulous in a way that the RS never quite manages. Purposeful and while not exactly understated gives the impression that nothing is done purely for show.
The car has been developed in close collaboration with the motor sport arm of the company and that is evident in some of the detail. One result is that it generates more downforce than the previous car, for the same drag thanks to its new swan neck rear wing. Thus showing that the desire to improve the breed through racing is still very strong at Zuffenhausen. It also weighs pretty much the same as the 991 despite a larger body and bigger wheels.
You can configure this GT3 way more than you ever could in the past as Porsche has made a number of their Exclusive Manufaktur range is available on the car. It comes in manual as standard and for that, Porsche I salute you. It is becoming nigh on impossible to buy a drivers car with a manual ‘box. I am not a Luddite, I love a good paddle shift, they are epic on track and allow you to unlock performance from the car that you otherwise couldn’t. For a lot of cars, a manual would be nonsense, 911 Turbo being a good example as would a car like the fabulous Bentley Flying Spur; those cars would lose their appeal with a stick.
But I am also a driver to my core. With the right car, I want to be able to interact with it on a different level; feel it work with me when I get it right, punish me when I don’t. I want to be able to heel and toe myself so I am as an intrinsic a part of the process of driving well, as the car is.
That level of intimacy is for me is the greatest joy of driving whether on the road or circuit. It is GT3 has always been about and the tradition is very much alive and well.
I wait for my chance to drive and find out what it is really all about, and the professional in more knows I should reserve judgment. The trouble is I already know I want one, when the touring arrives I am going to need to sell my house.