For more than 20 years, the Porsche 911 GT3 has set the road racer standard. Some rivals have been cheaper or more powerful, but across 996, 997 and 991 generations nothing has melded motorsport focus with everyday manners quite so brilliantly. Which is why they tend to retain their value - you might have heard. Now there's a fourth generation, the 992, taking on the famous nameplate for what its maker is calling a "GT3 off the leash".
And while a GT3 is about so much more than just the numbers, they seem as good a place to start as any. The 4.0-litre flat-six is, says Porsche, "practically unchanged" from the latest GT3 Cup engine; those of us without a race licence will notice a specification that closely mirrors the run-out 991 Speedster, with the same 510hp at 8,400rpm and 346lb ft of torque, albeit with the latter figure produced slightly lower down the rev range at 6,100rpm. And while those numbers herald no new frontier, let's all be happy about the return of a 911 with more than 500hp, a 9,000rpm redline and not a turbocharger or electric motor in sight.
The heavier (1,435kg DIN) PDK-equipped GT3 is the quicker of the two, sprinting to 62mph in 3.4 seconds, 100 in 7.0 and 124mph in just 10.8 seconds. Interestingly, too, the PDK is the old seven-speed unit, as opposed to the new eight-speed transmission used elsewhere in the 992 range - apparently due to weight saving. Opting for the six-speed manual version (1,418kg DIN) means 62mph takes 3.9 seconds, 100 needs 7.9 and 124mph comes up in 11.9 seconds. More than fast enough for most, surely. Top speeds are near enough identical (199mph, or 198mph for the PDK), and Porsche says you can expect anything up to 21.9mpg on the combined cycle. Interestingly, too, it's reckoned that around 40 per cent of 991s were specced with the manual when it became available- plainly the business case was easy to make this time round.
But the most staggering statistic associated with this 992 GT3 is, perhaps predictably, the Nordschleife lap time. Once upon a time the 996 made headlines for getting around in less than eight minutes - this one has done it in under seven. Just. Clocking a 6:59.927 around the 20.8-kilometre lap, the GT3 is claimed to be 17 seconds faster than its predecessor. On the 20.6-kilometre layout typically used, a 6:55.2 was recorded. Though the PDK test car was fitted with the optional Michelin Cup 2R tyre, believed to be worth around three or four seconds according to Andreas Preuninger, that's a remarkable time for a car with relatively little power by modern standards. Remember the excitement when a 918 Spyder did a 6:57?
An overhauled chassis has obviously contributed to that incredible lap time, this being the first time that a roadgoing 911 has deployed double wishbones at the front. Replacing the old MacPherson struts, and as used in the 911 RSR racer, the new suspension ought to further improve the purchase of the front end thanks to its increased camber stiffness. Or, as Porsche puts it, "extraordinarily agile turn-in behaviour and predictable drivability." To offset the increased weight of the new configuration, as well as wider tracks and larger wheels, the 992 GT3 features a suite of lightweight equipment. This includes a CFRP bonnet, a new exhaust that saves 10kg, lighter glass, forged wheels and "optimised" brake discs that are 17 per cent lighter than before; all in it means that this new car weighs just 5kg more than the last.
Furthermore, this being a GT3 that's "closer to motorsport than ever", the 992 has been treated to an extensive aerodynamic overhaul. That unmissable swan neck rear wing and rear diffuser are very clearly influenced by the RSR, and, in conjunction with new front diffusers, are said to generate 50 per cent more downforce versus a 991, "without noticeably affecting the drag coefficient." Once more the aero is adjustable; in the performance setting suggested only for track use, a 992 GT3's downforce is claimed to increase "by up to 150 per cent at 200km/h."
Additional features are as we've come to expect from GT3s over the years. Those lighter brakes are bigger, too, the front rotors now 408mm and with ceramics on the option list. Rear-wheel steer is standard again, now with "even more precise guidance", and the Clubsport pack remains a no-cost option, introducing a cage, harnesses and an extinguisher.
That said, the GT3 is no stripped out racer, with much of the 992's lavishly appointed interior carried over intact. Notable in this new car is a proper PDK selector, a much more substantial item than you'd get elsewhere in the range, and apparently there at the request of Andreas Preuninger himself (he likes changing gear in automatics with a lever, which isn't possible with the current switch). Another alteration is the 'track screen', selected via a button and turning both displays either side of the 10,000rpm rev counter into readouts for oil pressure, oil temperature, the visual shift assistant and so on. Ideal for track days, and almost certain to be used when dreary commutes are back in the routine, too.
Want one? Course you do. The 992 GT3 is on sale today; those able to resist the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur options - think carbon mirrors, darkened lights, the coloured wheel lips and so on - as well as the GT3 watch (price unconfirmed) will pay £123,100. Which, as is often the way with GT3s, doesn't seem an awful lot for what's on offer - the last Carrera S we tested was £125k. First deliveries are expected in May - hopefully just in time for the first track days of 2021.
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