The new 911 GT3 isn’t really that new at all, at least in concept — and that’s what makes it brilliant. Oh, sure, the body is clearly wider, there’s that new swan-neck rear wing you could land a small aircraft on and the front suspension loses the struts for a double-wishbone scheme, similar to the one inside the 911 RSR. The new GT3 is definitely a better car on paper, but it’s also a familiar one in all the right ways.
Porsche pulled the cover off the 992-generation GT3 today, and there are two key components among the raft of updates that are mercifully constant. First, the engine is still a naturally-aspirated, 4.0-litre flat-six that revs all the way up to 9,000 rpm, now producing 374 kW — roughly 7 kW more than the 991 GT3’s engine did by the end of its lifespan. Second, it can still be had with an optional six-speed manual transmission. You have to hand it to Porsche; for all the buzz around the Taycan and its SUVs, it’s still giving the purist GT crowd what it clamors for.
The new 911 GT3 is a bigger car than the one it’s replacing, but Porsche found clever ways to nip and tuck and keep the car’s overall curb weight on a par with its predecessor. The seven-speed PDK-equipped GT3 tips the scales at 1,434 kg, which is between 50 and 5 kg heavier, depending on the gearbox inside the 991 you’re comparing it to. A carbon-fibre reinforced plastic hood, decklid and wing, along with windows, brake discs and forged-alloy wheels all optimised for lightness help the GT3 dance when you command it to.
And boy, can it dance. Porsche took the new GT3 around the Nürburgring Nordschleife as you’d expect, though the lap time it churned out is nothing short of extraordinary. At the hands of Lars Kern, the 992 GT3 circled the ’Ring in 6:55.2, if we’re going by the older, slightly shorter route for calculating Nordschleife laps. This scheme offers a better point of comparison because it allows us to see how the 992 GT3 stacks up against older Porsche models.
The post-facelift 991 GT3 did a 7:12.7 in 2017, and a year later the 991 GT3 RS turned in a 6:56.4. How about the 918 Spyder? Even Porsche’s flagship hypercar, for its $US845,000 ($1,086,924) price when new, could muster but only a 6:57 flat. Listen, I’m not one to gawk over Nürburgring records where cars manage to shave a tenth of a second off, but beating the previous generation car by 17 seconds is a praiseworthy feat.
How, you might ask, is the GT3 managing this when it weighs about the same, if not a little more, and cranks out similar power? Well, that new suspension probably helps navigate the Nürburgring’s infamous bumps and judders, but most of the credit likely goes to the new car’s aero kit, which is capable of generating up to 150 per cent more downforce than the 991 GT3’s when tweaked to its most aggressive setting. Say what you will about the aesthetics of the “hung” wing at the back — personally, I think it’s one of the most attractive renditions of that design — but the vast uninterrupted surface area where the pylons would normally connect does wonders for high-speed cornering.
In a straight line, Porsche says the new GT3 will hit 97 km/h in 3.2 seconds with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission equipped and top out at 317 km/h. If you’re less bothered by turning laps on track days, you’ll be happy to know a wing-less Touring version of the new GT3 is in the works — and that’s a model we’ve had nice things to say about in the past.
The regular GT3 will start making deliveries in the fall for a price Porsche hasn’t disclosed yet. History suggests about $US150,000 ($192,945) is a reasonable prediction.