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Porsche 911 GT3 4.0 review: Guilty pleasures
IF you missed the memo, high-revving naturally-aspirated engines like the one in the 911 GT3 are going the way of the dodo, no thanks to rigorous emissions standards.
Turbo engines have taken their place, and if you're the by-the-numbers sort, you're likely to be thrilled by the huge amount of power they produce, along with their low fuel consumption.
But Porsche's 911 GT3 clings stubbornly to turbo-free propulsion, relying instead on a free-revving engine designed more for maximum driver engagement than maximum power.
Now in its second iteration of the current Type 991 generation of 911, the GT3 is part of Porsche's scintillating GT range of sports cars. This intriguing (or as repeat owners say, "addictive") breed of highly dynamic and involving sports cars is fettled by the legendary Porsche Motorsport division.
Although the GT3 looks like a 911, this lightened track-honed special isn't merely a mildly tweaked version - it is tested on the same track and produced on the same line as Porsche's racing cars.
Some dark art goes into enhancing the aerodynamics, handling and powertrain to thrill (and scare) the driving enthusiast.
It has a taller (by 20mm) GT wing at the back to generate the downforce that makes cars more stable at high speed, and the front has more aggressive air-dams than the previous model.
But one key difference is that the latest model is animated by a 500 horsepower, 4.0-litre engine that is derived from the 911 GT3 Cup racecar, as opposed to the Carrera S-based 3.8-litre in the last model.
That link to motorsports is likely to please purists, as is the reintroduced option of a six-speed manual gearbox.
The lightning-quick, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is still available, and is still popular; it constitutes more than three-quarters of the order tally for this car in Singapore.
Whichever gearbox you have, you know you're in for a treat when you spot 10,000rpm on the rev-counter, and the flat-six engine rouses rowdily to life.
Instead of the uncompromising sports buckets typically found in GT models, our test-car has semi-electric Sports seats Plus, which are both supportive and comfortable over our 400-plus kilometre route, much of which consisted of winding roads. They demonstrate how easily the GT3 can straddle the demands of both road and racetrack.
It tolerates the humdrum of city traffic, but it is on the serpentine mountain passes that it starts to howl with fierce abandon.
Turbocharged engines spoil us with their prodigious torque in the low to mid range, but a highly-tuned non-turbo such as the GT3's engine needs a good workout, as it comes alive only after 5,000rpm and begs to be driven hard to its 9,000rpm redline.
On the winding roads we traversed, the engine was constantly on the boil in the sweet spot between 6,000 and 9,000rpm, never out of its power-band.
To go with the engine's revvy vigour, there's a fluid adjustability to the GT3's chassis. It is perfectly controlled yet never overly unyielding for daily use, especially since it has the rear-axle steering of its predecessor and the even racier GT3 RS.
It all adds up to a devastatingly fast man-machine combination, especially in the hands of a committed driver.
A thoroughbred like the GT3 (or any of Porsche's GT cars for that matter) isn't for everyone, but if you're mentally and physically prepared for a car that begs to be driven as hard as it will work you, there are few driving experiences as rewarding or satisfying.
A Porsche source says orders for the car have "comfortably surpassed" the 13 sales racked up by its predecessor. How much of that is down to its racing-derived engine is arguable, but for now it seems the purists have spoken.
Porsche 911 GT3
- Engine 3996cc, 24 valves, flat-six
- Power 500hp at 8,250rpm
- Torque 460Nm at 6,000rpm
- Gearbox 7-speed PDK dual-clutch
- Top Speed 318km/h
- 0-100km/h 3.4 seconds
- Fuel efficiency 12.7L/100km
- CO2 288g/km
- Price S$671,688 excluding COE
- Agent Porsche Centre Singapore
- Available Now