RE: Porsche 911 (991.2) GT3 vs. 911 (997.2) GT3

RE: Porsche 911 (991.2) GT3 vs. 911 (997.2) GT3

Monday 12th February

Porsche 911 (991.2) GT3 vs. 911 (997.2) GT3

The last GT3 to have a manual gearbox against the latest - is it a glorious return?



So there are manual 991 GT3s in the UK. Finally. There are some for sale already, too, but let's return to that discussion a bit later on. For now, it's time to establish just what this latest GT3 is like as a sports car, as a road car (because we've only driven the PDK on track) and, just as importantly, as a fast 911 that fans care so passionately about.

First instinct is to pair the GT3 with a contemporary, but what would that be? An Audi R8 also has a screaming atmospheric engine, but would lack focus (and a clutch pedal) in this duel. A McLaren 570S Track Pack's remit closely matches the Porsche's, though turbos and an automatic create a different prospect. An M4 GTS is affected - if that's the right word - similarly, plus it's a bit chubby. There isn't a C63 Black Series yet, though that would surely face similar obstacles. For those of you screaming 'Evora!' at this point, hold that thought - it's a comparison we're as keen on as you.

For the time being, however, there was one obvious contender: the 997. The last of the Mezger cars, the last Motorsport 911 with hydraulic steering and, crucially, the last GT3 before this current one with six manual gears and three pedals. The second generation 997 is also regarded as perhaps the finest GT3 ever; these issues are always up for debate, of course, but by combining the most power with expertly judged levels of modernity and traditional driver appeal, it became a legend in its own lifetime. The furore around the PDK, EPAS, 4WS 991.1 GT3 only hardened its appeal to Porscheophiles, which was already off the scale thanks to the other-worldly 997 4.0 RS. If this latest manual can match the 997s stupendous array of talents, then it will be something remarkable indeed.


Things begin well for the new car. A common criticism levelled at the 991 since its 2011 introduction (though seemingly voiced with each and every 911 update) is a stifling dynamic maturity that can make it feel a little aloof; capable, most certainly, though lacking the involvement that gets people like us going. Not a problem here. The idle is angry, the diff graunches, the cage pings, the ceramic brakes grumble when they're cold; to a lot of people those quirks would be annoying. When you actively enjoy being connected with a car, however, it screams intent. Which is fabulous.

Yet the GT3 does all this while retaining the right bits of the 991's maturity: Apple CarPlay works flawlessly, it's perfectly refined at motorway speed and everything you touch feels of impeccable quality. Your favourite circuit might be 100 miles away, or it might be 900; neither would be a problem in this, because you'd happily just drive and drive. Download your playlists, podcasts and audio books and feel the miles fall away...

Moreover, while the appeal of 9,000rpm is patently obvious, the GT3 doesn't need to be at full pelt to begin luring you in. That manual is superb, with a precision and satisfaction that remains unmatched by the regular Porsche seven-speeder. Or by any manual, come to think of it. Combine that with an engine of sublime response and you're but a second from being reminded of what you paid for, even at a few thousand revs. It has probably the best electric steering yet made, turn in that defies its weight distribution and an intangible sense of purpose from how you sit, what you're looking at and what you hear all around; the car never lets you forget that it's something special, but it never overwhelms with its status, either. Without having breached 6,500rpm - alright, let's call it 7,500rpm - on the journey down, the GT3 has already set a formidable standard.


The 997 we have here belongs to PHer Joe Draper; it's a 2010 997.2 Comfort with 24,000 miles on it and really rather loved by its owner. Joe kept it despite being offered a Cayman GT4 plus some cash, and it currently sits alongside an M2 that he drives every day and a Caterham which he races. Joe's a good guy. His car's good, too. Really good. The 997 GT3 looks small, almost dainty, next to a 991 - attribute that to the 100mm longer wheelbase of the new car - and the interior feels generations old, gear lever a long way down, some rather basic graphics and feet still slightly skewed - that clutch doesn't feel any lighter, either. It's been a productive decade for cabin development.

But what also hasn't changed, and hopefully never will, is the sheer joy of driving a 997 GT3 on a decent bit of road. You need to work harder than you will in a 991, though there's an argument to say it's more rewarding to do so. It feels like an old 911 because of the visibility you have, the patience you sometimes need and the sensations coming back at you, then like a heroically modern one as it spears furiously towards 8,500rpm once more.

It's a rich experience because so much is dependent on you as the driver, with rewards commensurate to your input. There's an accessibility that comes from its size combined with some very grown up intimidation from the weight distribution and the sheer speed of the thing. And that bloody clutch. Getting it anywhere near right, managing and balancing everything the car does, feels tremendous; mucking up a shift or misjudging entry speed plummets that high to an embarrassing low. It remains a challenge, yet with all the tools there to create a uniquely engaging drive. Special car that, Joe...


So you know how it goes now: old model trumps new model because it's more involving, more difficult, more characterful, for want of a better phrase. The new car will rev match for you, the four-wheel steer counters that pendulum effect brilliantly, the latest engines can't possibly match the Mezger and so on...

Thing is, while this car may be 'less of a 911' than the 997 (which was probably less of a 911 than a 996, it the 993, it the 964 and so on), as a sports car experience it's unparalleled. And magnificent. And still jolly scary when the front end doesn't find purchase on cold tarmac, actually...

Sure, the latest generation dampers keep the body even more ruthlessly controlled than ever. The ceramic brakes are even more effective. And the four-wheel steer does indeed mean you don't have to wait for the front end of a 911 anywhere near as much. That being said, the combination of that new engine with the manual gearbox has created something absolutely extraordinary.

The way the GT3 revs beyond 6,000rpm is addictive; beyond 8,000rpm it's utterly spellbinding, frenzied, deranged and wild like nothing else on sale. There feels to be no stopping it, while the whole car is enveloped in the kind of mechanical howl that'll bring tears to your eyes. And maybe some blood to your ears. It seems unfathomable that this same engine could have been the one trundling along at 1,100rpm in sixth without complaint just minutes before. The flat six is completely savage, with all that work put in by Preuninger and his team paying incredible dividends; if this is the last GT3 without turbos, what an incredible, unforgettable way to go.


And you control the gear changes! With a lighter clutch and an even better shift than the 997 (with the lever closer to the wheel, too), you can indulge anytime you want; the new car can pull away in fourth or will rip through every single gear until your conscience calls time. Get the PDK if you must, but this powertrain really stands comparison with - and this car isn't referenced lightly - a Carrera GT as something to use and enjoy. And nobody complained about having to manually change gears in that...

So where does that leave us in this comparison? In something of a quandary to be honest, because both are undoubtedly fantastic driver's cars. The 997, while less than a decade old, has a traditional charm that eludes the 991, requiring the very best from its driver a lot of the time. It's unapologetically hardcore too, noisy and raw and properly hard work. If that's how you like your 911s then the GT3 is perfect, and wholly deserving of its reputation - it's fabulous.

It's the 991, on the day, that's the more memorable experience though. This latest GT3 is a more comfortable, more refined, more cosseting car when you need it to be, yet even more exhilarating when the moment arises. With its higher limits those moments are more fleeting, but the thrill is greater if you get the chance to grab it. And no, that was not the conclusion we expected, either.

Put really simply, the 997 is the best occasional car, the one to be enjoyed most on your favourite B-roads. It's narrow, nimble, and still a joyous mix of new tech and old thrills. The 991, on the other hand, can be appreciated and admired every day, then entirely adored on the right bit of road or track. The way it combines such ferocity and wanton aggression with relative approachability and finesse is truly staggering, a cake-and-eat-it GT3 if such a thing can exist. Typically, talk of a huge bandwidth of ability results in a talented but meek end product; instead this car delivers as much or as little of the Porsche GT experience as you could want at any given time, which makes it a freakishly desirable and spectacularly exciting product. Premiums will be paid - because actually at £130k this car feels underpriced - and spurned buyers will be cross, but for those who get the chance this 991.2 GT3 is even better than expected. Makes you wonder, in fact, why on earth you'd want to sell it at all...


SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE 911 GT3 (997.2)

Engine: 3,800cc, flat-6
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 441@7,900rpm
Torque (lb ft): 317@3,250rpm
0-62mph: 4.1sec
Top speed: 194mph
Weight: 1,395kg
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
Price: £82,000

SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE 911 GT3 (991.2)

Engine: 3,996cc flat-6
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 500@8,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 339@6,000rpm
0-62mph: 3.9sec
Top speed: 198mph
Weight: 1,488kg EU with 75kg driver
MPG: 21.9 NEDC combined
CO2: 290g/km
Price: £111,802 (As tested £130,106 comprised of £ 2,147 for Interior Colour Black leather interior package (in conjunction with option contrast seams in Red), £ 1,865 for Exterior LED main headlights in black including Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS), £ 203 for SportDesign exterior mirror lower trims painted in Black (high-gloss), £84 for Door handles painted in black (high-gloss), £1,599 for Front axle lift system, £6,498 for Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB), £336 for Chrono Package and preparation for lap trigger, £716 for Wheels painted in satin black (complete), £168 for 12-o'clock marking in Red, £3,324 for Full bucket seats, £194 for Guards Red seat belts, £834 for Leather interior with stitching in red and £336 for Digital radio)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Matt Reeve

Original Poster:

591 posts

182 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
Nice car Josephine.

Esceptico

1,519 posts

45 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
I have a friend picking up a manual 991.2 GT3 at the beginning of March. Think he will be happy reading this.

browngt3

535 posts

147 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
An interesting comparison between two very nice cars. Nicely written too.

The great achievement with the new car is just how useable it is but at the same time so charismatic and fast. That engine is indeed a worthy successor to the old Mezger.

AdamV12AMR

1,112 posts

92 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
PH, is it really that hard to create an image gallery to flick through, rather than standalone images that launch a new browser window?
There looks like some nice shots from the day but, frankly, you make it too hard to view them.
If this is about page views, (a) it’s not 2003 and (b) it’s having the opposite effect. rolleyes

Anyway, both clearly wonderful cars cloud9

If you’re looking for a nat-asp, three pedal super-coupe for comparison, did you consider a V12 Vantage S manual? driving

Bencolem

442 posts

175 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
Great article. Thank you PH for giving this one to Matt instead of Nic.
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SidewaysSi

4,818 posts

170 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
Great article. Thank you PH for giving this one to Matt instead of Nic.
Yes, praise the Lord. Well done in actively choosing who writes key articles.

Helicopter123

4,481 posts

92 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
Great article, just a shame you can't actually buy a 991.2 GT3...

unsprung

2,577 posts

60 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all


Imagine the sound of these two, running together.

Also, it bears repeating for almost any modern 911: they steadfastly refuse to pile on the kilos -- unlike nearly every other car of today.

greenarrow

1,458 posts

53 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all

..I've never driven and probably never will drive either of these cars, but the verdict seems right to me. They just seem to have absolutely nailed the GT3 in the 991 version and TBH it makes cars in the next class up seem expensive. An absolutely wonderful car and one to appreciate while you can, as I doubt we will get many more n/a ICE 911s like this....

The only thing that slightly surprises me is the weight, with driver, nearly 1500KG now. But I think to be fair every version of the GT3 has tipped the scales at over 1300KG (without driver)......so probably hasn't put on that much weight over the years....

Sierra Mike

834 posts

131 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
A worthwhile article and very well written. Although I do feel that the cars are a generation apart so a little unfair to pick one car over the other. Both are fantastic drivers’ cars with their own appeal.

The 991.2 GT3 is truly epic and especially as a manual. Porsche understands its customers and the cars they want to drive. Should I be so fortunate, this is the kind of car I want to drive for the rest of my days.


Revjunkie

12 posts

164 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
I'm really very upset....

Because I will probably never get to own either of these cars. High revving, NA, Manual....... Heaven.

nickfrog

9,213 posts

153 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
unsprung said:
Imagine the sound of these two, running together.

Also, it bears repeating for almost any modern 911: they steadfastly refuse to pile on the kilos -- unlike nearly every other car of today.
I thought cars were getting lighter again, Swift, Fiesta, A4, Golf/Leon.

Kenny Powers

2,055 posts

63 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
Fabulous cars. Standout article. Bravo

cmoose

43,080 posts

165 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
I think what's interesting about the 991.2 GT3 is that it's the modern culmination of what you might call the traditional approach to driving enjoyment. It's the combination of driver focus and the best available tech that stands out. I don't think you get that anywhere else, which is why as a thing to drive it bears comparison with, or perhaps tops, the back catalogue car.

Everywhere else you look, the basic proposition is flawed - compulsory paddles and turbos, etc or lacking in technology and cutting edge competence. But the GT3 is very much what you get when you keep developing down the same path with your eyes on the same prize: driving enjoyment as opposed to numbers and ease of access.

Of course, with the modern tech you still get some pretty staggering numbers and the car is more accessible than ever. But that hasn't been the primary driving force behind the core concept of the car. With the McLaren stable, to take on obvious example, the starting point was essentially numbers and accessibility. Hence it's turbos to get the numbers, paddles to make it easy to drive. From there they try to dial back in the involvement. Which they do a good job of.

But no matter how much power the turbo V8 cranks out, it's not as visceral, connected and thrilling as a naturally aspirated engine taken to this extreme with modern tech. Likewise, pulling a paddle is never going to be as tactile, involving and rewarding as orchestrating three well-weighted pedals, a slick, precise shifter and that stupendously precise engine to snag a near-perfect rev-matched downshift.

This thing is very likely the singular high point for combustion driver's cars. I can't see the next one being naturally aspirated.

isaldiri

4,008 posts

104 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
The difference would have been greater if the 997 and 991 had similar spec seats. Comparing the 997 with comfort seats vs the 991 with buckets (i think per the picture) puts the older car at a relative disadvantage in the 'feel' stakes right from the start.

Sierra Mike

834 posts

131 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
cmoose said:
I think what's interesting about the 991.2 GT3 is that it's the modern culmination of what you might call the traditional approach to driving enjoyment. It's the combination of driver focus and the best available tech that stands out. I don't think you get that anywhere else, which is why as a thing to drive it bears comparison with, or perhaps tops, the back catalogue car.

Everywhere else you look, the basic proposition is flawed - compulsory paddles and turbos, etc or lacking in technology and cutting edge competence. But the GT3 is very much what you get when you keep developing down the same path with your eyes on the same prize: driving enjoyment as opposed to numbers and ease of access.

Of course, with the modern tech you still get some pretty staggering numbers and the car is more accessible than ever. But that hasn't been the primary driving force behind the core concept of the car. With the McLaren stable, to take on obvious example, the starting point was essentially numbers and accessibility. Hence it's turbos to get the numbers, paddles to make it easy to drive. From there they try to dial back in the involvement. Which they do a good job of.

But no matter how much power the turbo V8 cranks out, it's not as visceral, connected and thrilling as a naturally aspirated engine taken to this extreme with modern tech. Likewise, pulling a paddle is never going to be as tactile, involving and rewarding as orchestrating three well-weighted pedals, a slick, precise shifter and that stupendously precise engine to snag a near-perfect rev-matched downshift.

This thing is very likely the singular high point for combustion driver's cars. I can't see the next one being naturally aspirated.
Comfortably one of the best posts I’ve ever read on PH. I agree wholeheartedly.

big_rob_sydney

2,167 posts

130 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
New car beats old. Shock.

Shame the new one is heavier. Imagine how much better if it actually lost weight instead.

Onehp

708 posts

219 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
Can only dream of one of these. Maybe someday I'll drive a 991.2 GT3, who knows. Cmoose ftw

Till then, very happy* with the democratic version of the 'designed for driver engagement not numbers' modern car that's made not by Porsche (but could/should have?), but by Toyobaru ...

* with assorted, in all very cheap, NA mods to fix some of the obvious downsides...

Edited by Onehp on Saturday 10th February 17:43

Julian Thompson

573 posts

174 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
Before I throw myself to the wolves I’ll qualify this post by admitting to being a total manual gearbox die hard and by concurring in a general nature with the earlier post about the epoch making nature of the manual gt3. I’m lucky enough to have a little collection of cars that I love dearly and all of the road cars are manual with one exception - my 991.1 gt3. Now, for sure, I’ll freely admit that if a manual had been available and realistically priced at the time I would have most likely bought it undriven and I’m sure I would love it very much. However. I have a reservation - and I don’t mean the best table by the window...

With its 9500 rpm changes, narrow powerband and race car ride and persona (mine is a club sport so it has the low rent dash, holes in the carpets for the front of the cage etc) the GT3 is the only car that I have where now, a year and a half later, I can honestly say that my opinion has shifted - the PDK box actually suits the car to a tee. No I don’t like the full auto mode and never, ever use it - but sometimes, when you’re lucky enough to get a great, clear road and you have one foot operating each pedal and (depending on your mood) you’re either flicking the paddles f1 style or tapping the stick back and forth like a rally star, the whole thing comes together and it’s deeply, madly intoxicating. I’ve known myself laugh out loud, like a crazed drain, after I’ve strung together a series of turns where it has all been perfect. It’s absolutley amazing and for me, I now think having a manual box would result in a car I like less.

I won’t get the chance to swap mine anyway as I’m not really one of the “chosen few” from a Porsche point of view and because I don’t want the financial friction involved in making a change but - genuinely - for me - other than binning the full auto mode and maybe fitting that front cage so I really can pretend it’s a racing car there is nothing I would change about my pdk GT3.


samoht

780 posts

82 months

Saturday 10th February
quotequote all
Good article.

cmoose said:
I can't see the next one being naturally aspirated.
I agree with everything else you say, but I wouldn't forecast a turbocharged GT3. I don't think economy/CO2 is a big concern, either for Porsche or their customers, with the GT3 - it's a drop in the bucket for them, corporate CO2-wise.
In terms of the investment to make a standalone nat-asp engine for the GT3, Porsche have been engineering both nat-asp and turbo engines for their 911 for the past forty-something years, and the 'motorsport' cars have long had quite a lot of bespoke effort. And for NOx or particulate emissions, I think the new-gen direct-injection turbos are actually worse than traditional tech.

All in all, I'd have thought Porsche could continue refining the current engine, boring it out slightly bigger and increasing power and response slightly, for another couple of generations yet. They can always keep the parallel GT2 line going, for customers who want the boosted midrange that only a hairdryer or two can give.

I guess we'll find out who's right in 3-5 years' time!