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991 GT3

Porsche Celebrates Twenty Years of the 911 GT3

The GT3’s formula is something that stirs any driver with a drop of motor oil in their veins. A high-revving naturally-aspirated flat six engine closely related to the engine used in motorsports, rear wheel-drive, a lightweight construction, upgraded aerodynamics, and track-focused suspension made the GT3 a must for the drivers wanting a little more than what most supercars could offer. While there are cars with greatest statistics, the well-rounded nature of the GT3 has made it a wondrous car that still pulls at our heartstrings after twenty years. As we’ve seen, integrating more tech hasn’t dulled its appeal, either.

The successor to the 2.7 RS, the 996 GT3 ushered in a level of performance not available to customers for two decades.

Spiritual Successor

Upon its release in 1999, the Porsche GT3 was one of the few road cars to lap the Nurburgring in less than eight minutes; Walter Rohrl snagged a 7:56.33 in one of these edgy, temperamental, and rewarding cars. Lowered suspension, a distinct aero kit with an adjustable rear wing, a standard limited slip differential, adjustable suspension, and 360 horsepower made this one of the sharpest 911s available. While we Americans didn’t receive the GT3 until the 996 was facelifted, the two years on the market had us all waiting eagerly for the arrival of the next generation.

More Tech, More Speed

It was the 997 which captured the public’s attention Stateside. A bevy of new electronic systems, divided control arms, more power, and eventually center-lock hubs, the 997 was a step or two in practicality beyond the first iteration. Traction control, electronic stability control, and an optional front axle lift system made this generation of car a much more usable product, but still as capable over a backroad or a circuit. In fact, the 997 GT3 was significantly faster with a 7:40 lap at the ‘Ring.

Sophisticated but Pure

Continuing on that theme, the 991 introduced both a PDK gearbox and rear wheel-steering. These gadgets caused outrage among the purists, but the resulting performance only helped cement the 991 GT3’s reputation as one of the best track cars on sale. With its 3.8-liter’s 485 horsepower pushing a still svelte 3,153-lb car, the 991 GT3 became much more of a dragster than its predecessors, and its improved aero and agility helped chop another massive margin off its previous lap time at the Nurburgring. There aren’t many cars in the GT3’s price range which can dawdle around town comfortably and still set a ‘Ring time of 7:25.

Despite twenty years of electronic assistance and greater practicality, Porsche’s rawest car is still a hot-blooded machine. Perhaps it’s not as focused as its spiritual forebear, the 2.7 RS, but it’s still a thrilling, demanding car that rewards the talented. The 911 GT3 represents the beating heart of Porsche’s commitment to building pure, uncompromised sports cars—and proves that involvement and usability aren’t mutually exclusive.

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718 Cayman GT4 Put Through Its Paces at Knockhill

More power, more aerodynamic grip, more performance, and more usability—we’ve heard all of the new Cayman GT4’s strengths already. However, few automotive journalists can test those claims like Steve Sutcliffe. Though he might not look like a superlative athlete, the man is arguably the best driver among his peers. Ten years ago, he was given the chance to test a Honda F1 car, and was only several tenths off James Rossiter, the Honda test driver roughly half his age.

Here, Sutcliffe uses all his strengths to illuminate the incremental changes that make this car 12 seconds a lap faster around the Nurburging than the 981 GT4. Despite the car weighing 80 pounds more and retaining the same frustratingly long gear ratios, the 718 is still quicker in a straight line.

Watch how urgently the car fires off the corner at 4:38. There’s an easily accessible engine at work here.

Based upon the motor found in the rear of the latest Carrera S, the 718’s new 4.0-liter motor makes 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. Though that latter figure is the same as with the outgoing 3.8-liter engine, the added displacement provides a broader powerband, which helps camouflage the car’s long gearing. With the driver more often in the optimal rev range, the new chassis is more easily exploited. 

The steering, brakes, and suspension are closely related to those found in the GT3, and Sutcliffe immediately recognizes the changes. That sharpened steering is a real asset through Knockhill’s blind entries, which Sutcliffe attacks with the commitment you’d expect from him. 

A big rear wing, an underbody diffuser, and a bigger splitter creates 269 pounds of downforce at 188 miles per hour—nothing to sniff at. Not only is this car more incisive, but added stability—a little extra composure is always nice over the crests—is another feature which goads a driver to push that much harder. 

The improved powertrain, better composed chassis, and better exhaust note make it even more thrilling to drive than its predecessor, which was a firecracker itself. Incremental changes in every department make the new 718 Cayman GT4 a dependable, confidence-inspiring car which can soak up bumps, stay on the pipe, and encourage the driver to attack. That combination of qualities—not just the bump in power—is what is responsible for its incredible 7:28 lap around the ‘Ring.

Incidentally, that’s the same as the lap set by the 997 GT3 RS 4.0. Though tire technology has come a long way in ten years, having the least expensive member of the GT family set the same lap as the former heavyweight is a testament to Porsche’s unyielding search for incremental improvements in every department.

Composure, mid-engine balance, and great engine response—what’s not to like?

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Tuned 996 C2 Dices with GT3s in France

It’s hard to fathom that what for a long-time was considered the « redheaded stepchild » of the 911 family can, if driven well, casually dice with the latest and greatest thoroughbreds in the Porsche stable. A 991 GT3 ought to casually show the aging, 3.4-liter 996 its heels, but Guillaume Artufel’s 996, aided by his wonderful driving skills, remains in contention with cars costing ten times as much at the high-speed Circuit Du Var Luc in Southern France.

There are a few choice modifications that help this 3.4-liter 996 keep up. GT3-style seats help keep Artufel stable while hurtling down the former AGS-Formula 1 test track, KW coilovers offer some stability, Federal semi-slicks provide the stick, and as it’s a fairly focused track toy, it sports a cage. Other than that, it’s a plain-jane 996.

So, how does such a simple car run down a pair of well-driven GT3s? Artufel’s a masterful driver, and never looks flustered behind the wheel. Though he’s driving the Porsche to the edge of adhesion in hairpins and fifth-gear kinks alike, he never looks like he’s trying; he exudes calmness in the cabin.

It could be his tires, but he simply looks to trace tidier lines and show greater confidence in the high-speed sections, where he’s able to wrangle the red 997.2 GT3. Considering how this red car has some 150 horsepower on the camera car, straightline speeds are incomparable, but the 996 shows similar poise and, perhaps spurred on by a bit of underdog’s bravado, Artfuel likes nipping at the GT3’s bumper when he can. That said, the GT3 looks far more stable in the fast direction changes, though Artufel’s second-nature countersteering helps there.

Though the 996 slides at speed (5:05 and 6:08), it still behaves nicely and doesn’t surprise Artufel.

Even more impressive that a 991 GT3 joins the fray and fails to walk away for a long time. The 991’s combination of a broader powerband and a PDK gearbox gives it the ability to waltz away from the red car in a straight line, but due to Circuit Du Var’s narrow confines and a likely discrepancy in driving talent, it takes a long time to find a way around. Meanwhile, Artufel’s comfort behind the wheel helps him observe the fracas from a friendly distance, and, incidentally, demonstrates how wonderful these often-overlooked Porsches are with the right modifications and the proper touch.

Nipping down the inside, Artufel gives a friendly and audacious honk.

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Watch This 911 GT3 Rally Car Fly Through the Woods

I feel for right-seaters in rally cars, I really do, especially on gravel. Even while reading the pace notes, they are completely at the mercy of the driver. On this test route, the person in the navigator’s position appears to be simply acting as ballast. Based on their clothing, they may well be an unsuspecting member of the team. I’m sure they were fitted with a helmet and gently coerced, or stuffed kicking and screaming, into the Porsche. The view over the dash in this GT3 is very standard for a modern 911 racecar, save the for tall handbrake and rally computer. The view out the windscreen is something else entirely.

Tuthill Porsche’s RGT rally kit is designed to make 997 and 991-generation cars competitive R-GT class rallying. The car in the video is slated to run in a Spanish rally series this season. While 911s are no strangers to rallying, it is still unusual to see a modern 911 on a gravel rally stage. Like its forebears (and many current « Safari » 911s) the car looks very much at home on the loose surface and over the bumps. The longer suspension travel and narrower tires seem to play in to the 911’s inherent strengths, especially when getting power down out of a corner.

Tuthill Porsche is making a serious name for themselves in rallying with their RGT programme. The first WRC-eligible RGT competed in the 2014 Rally Deutschland. At the close of the event, Richard Tuthill’s GT3 became the first Porsche to finish a WRC event in 28 years.

The R-GT class is currently very small. Regular entrants are limited to just 911 GT3s, the Lotus Exige S R-GT and Fiat 124 Spider G-GT. Additional passports are issued to individual cars at the FIA’s discretion. The added diversity is more than welcome amidst the sea of Subarus, Volkswagens and Mitsubishis seen at most WRC events.

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New 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 driven on UK roads: verdict

A new 4.0-litre engine derived from the GT3 Cup cars, a 991 GT3 RS-matching 500hp output, 997 GT3 RS-equaling downforce and the return of the manual gearbox alongside PDK makes the new Porsche 911 GT3 an even more compelling choice in 991 Gen2 guise. Mixing up elements of RS and R DNA, as well that from the Cup car, the Porsche 911 GT3 is a hedonistic shot of driver purity that underlines Porsche’s GT department is very much playing it’s ‘A’ game.

And so to the A422, Warwickshire. My drive home. I’ve driven the stretch from Banbury to Stratford Upon Avon so many times I know every twist and turn, crest, dip and rise. There’s a German-plated Porsche 911 GT3 here, and I’ve got the keys. It’d be rude not to go for a drive. Right?

I’ll not go over the details, you’ve read them previously on Total911.com. You need to know it’s a PDK, the manual’s being driven a few hours after you read this, but hey, we’re not so blinkered by the return of the stick to ignore the seven-speed PDK. Anything else? Well, there’s 500hp from that new 4.0-litre engine, it borrowed largely from the GT3 Cup cars. Still as enthusiastic for revs, it’s 9,000rpm limit is retained, but there’s the promise of even greater flexibility further down the rev range.

So it transpires, too. The new 911 GT3’s 4.0-litre boxer engine is different. Good different, the authority with which it gathers pace at lower engine speeds is notable, even if the sound it makes isn’t quite as appealing. Initially, at least, get more than 4,000rpm on the rev-counter and the old, howling, mechanical magic is there, the 4.0-litre a charismatic, immediate, and exotic-sounding unit that might have a racer’s edge, but it achieves that without any road car compromises.

Like that new powerplant, the rest of the GT3 formula has been finessed. The suspension has been overhauled. Spring and damper rates, the geometry, new GT3 specific tyres and detailed changes to the rear-wheel steering system are clear on the road. The GT3 mixes tight, fine control with a compliance that’s remarkable given its clear focus. The steering response is as immediate as you’d wish for, the brakes mighty, the PDK’s shifting with such quickness you’d swear those paddles were anticipatory.

The very definition of a puristic 911, the GT3’s an absolute triumph, more forgiving and exploitable as a road car than the RS, more R in its character, and unique among not just the 911 line-up but all its contemporaries. We expected a lot from this car. And it’s very much delivered.

The most in-depth review of Porsche’s new 991.2 GT3 anywhere on the newsstand can be found in Total 911 issue 153, in shops from 17th May.

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