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991 GT3

Why Does The Porsche Carrera T Exist, Anyway?

It might look like a base 911, but it inherits a slew of minor performance adders to change its character completely.

Simplified, straightforward, and incredibly well-engineered, the Carrera T offers both the purist and the tech-sensitive engineer no shortage of qualities to admire. Incredible ergonomics, stellar visibility, a direct steering system, good power, and a wonderful compromise for everyday usage make this Carrera T perfect for the discreet, discerning owners out there.

The Spirit

It’s obviously sharper and more focused than the base 911, but more subdued and more affordable than the riotous GT3. With more emphasis on driving pleasure, the Carrera T’s seven-speed manual engages the driver with a slick shift, perfect pedal location, and wonderfully informative steering. Perhaps the steering doesn’t writhe in your hands quite like that of the air-cooled cars, but the feedback is enough to encourage any driver over a bumpy backroad, which is perhaps where it’s at its best.

The Powerplant

Compliant enough for the imperfections of the real world, but stiff enough to give the car a definite sense of purpose, it is one of the best for everyday usage. That’s reinforced by the retention of the standard 3.0-liter, 375-horsepower engine. Perhaps it’s wrong to say it feels normally aspirated since the torque hits its peak figure at 1,900 rpm, but it doesn’t have a violent surge which prevents the driver from leaning on the car through canyon roads. Linear and responsive, this turbocharged motor doesn’t feel turbocharged, and that makes it more engaging than some of the punchier powerplants higher up the lineup. Plus, with shorter gear ratios, it’s far from sluggish; with the sports exhaust as standard, it’s not hushed or muted like you might expect a turbocharged motor in a lesser model might be.

Its simplistic appearance belies its focused, friendly, and very satisfying character.

The Verdict

It may lack the outrageous performance and cachet of the GT lineup, but think of the practicality, the added engagement, and the amount of performance which most people can realistically appreciate. With less power and lower limits, it isn’t quite as intimidating as some of the faster members of the 911 family, and that is part of why it’s a wonderful machine. Is it a GT3 Lite? Not quite, but it does reflect some of that less-is-more mentality which made the old air-cooled cars so involving. As that sense of simplicity is something which seems less important every year, the Carrera T is a reminder of what really matters in a usable sports car.

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GMG Helps A 991 GT3 Sound Better—Not That It Needed Much Help

When I say that the Porsche 911 GT3/GT3 RS—particularly the 991 generation—makes one of the best sounds in the entire automotive kingdom, that’s not brand loyalty talking. The scream of the 3.8/4.0-liter six is enough to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, and that’s with the factory exhaust setup.

When the engine is fitted with GMG’s WC Titanium Center Section, the note is intimidating—almost like that of a 991 Cup. Just listening to this short selection of fly-by clips is enough to stretch a smile across the steeliest faces. It’s enough to make the most reticent wax lyrical. There aren’t many street-legal motors which make music like this, so take a moment to crank the volume and bask in the bark of the GMG-modded motor.

This center section is a direct bolt-on replacement of the factory item that is handcrafted and meticulously TIG welded to aerospace specifications. Weighing just 4.4 pounds—less than 1/3 of the weight of the factory center section—helps trim a bit of weight from the rear of the GT3/GT3 RS, though that’s not its real appeal. Its proprietary megaphone design produces more power across the entire rev range, and the sonorous scream it makes is unrivaled by anything that wears a set of a license plates.

Since this modification is 100% emissions legal, will not void the factory warranty, and is easily installed, it almost sounds like a practical product—not that its owners are terribly concerned with practicality. Making a road car sound like its racing counterpart is a pastime for an irreverent few, but we can all attest to the way a screaming engine can brighten our days. Yes, it will frighten small children as it passes by, but the added presence and power brought by this easy upgrade is worth the price of a few nasty glances from the neighbors.

Not like a car with these looks won’t get plenty of attention already.

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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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