In the Spotlight - Porsche 911 GT3 {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

17 Nov 2017

It was a very cold and drizzly day when I turned up at the rather impressive Brooklands Hotel in Surrey, I’d been sitting in horrendous traffic for 2hrs on the M25 and my spine was shouting at me thanks to the somewhat rigid nature of the yellow Abarth I was driving. But as I pulled into the car park what greeted me was like all my Christmases at once – sitting there resplendent in its Miami Blue paintwork was Auto Vivendi’s Porsche 911 GT3. I’m not going to lie, I made a few squealing noises and had to compose myself somewhat before I got out of the Abarth.

You see I love focused driver’s cars and in the vast array of vehicles on sale today the 911 GT3 is well known to be one of the best examples, if not the best. The last GT3 I drove was the 997 version and I adored that, so I was incredibly excited and slightly apprehensive about driving the latest 991.2 version – what is it they say about meeting your heroes? One thing that was stuck in my head was that this particular car wasn’t a manual – the 991.2 version brought the option of a manual ‘box back and I have been itching to drive one, but as I was soon to find I should keep an open mind.

So the keys were collected, the Abarth dropped off and I made my way outside to drink in the deliciousness that is the Miami Blue GT3. The GT3 is a pretty dramatic looking car anyway, but in this shade of bright blue it looks positively alien - it obviously shares a lot of body panels with the regular 911 but it looks so much more aggressive. The front bumper gets bigger intakes with slim DRLs sitting within extended black ducts to direct airflow, while the trademark GT3 vent just ahead of the bonnet is thankfully still there. At the rear there’s a more aggressive rear bumper featuring some very noisy twin pipes in the centre (more on those later) and a huge spoiler atop the engine bay. This spoiler is adjustable and contributes to some serious downforce at speed, while below it sit a couple of engine intakes. The final touch are the centre-lock alloys, which I still think are the nicest wheel design on any car at the moment – though I do have a pet hate for black wheels, I’d much prefer them in the dark satin grey that Porsche offer.

Open the door and despite being the hardcore, lighter version of the 911 you’re instantly surprised that the door is still incredibly weighty and opens and closes with a mighty ‘thunk’ – then you sit into the familiar 911 cabin. This car is pretty much a ‘Comfort’ spec, so no bucket seats or roll cage, but the sports seats are still very supportive. The lovely alcantara steering wheel feels lovely in the hand and the PDK gearshift paddles fall perfectly to the finger while the latest infotainment setup is very slick and easy to use. But frankly, that could all be made of cardboard and feel like wet cabbage to the touch because the really important stuff happens when you turn the key.

When you do so (which itself feels a bit odd but nice in the current trend for starter buttons) you are instantly reminded that this is no vanilla 911 Carrera you’re sitting in. The whole car vibrates as it barks into life with a chesty cough and tickle of revs then settles into a lumpy idle reminiscent of a race car. The noise of this thing is incredible, bassy and raw and then you realise the Sports Exhaust button isn’t even pressed – once you do it adds another layer of bass and yet more aggression – it should be law that this button is pressed every single time. No exceptions. An exploratory tickle of the throttle brings yet more rich noise bellowing from the exhaust, but the speed at which it gains and sheds revs is what really impresses, that needle flies around the dial.  It’s no great surprise though as the engines from the GT program have always been special and this is no change. The older 3.8 litre flat six has been enlarged to 4.0 litres now and produces a staggering 493bhp (500hp) – but the key thing here is that it revs to 9000rpm. Yes, you read that correctly – nine thousand. Most performance cars barely stretch above 7000rpm so you know it’s going to be a scintillating drive.

Press the right paddle and the PDK-S (sportier version of the std gearbox) goes into first gear, first thing you notice is the lack of ‘creep’, but if you give a little press of the throttle you’re off and you immediately notice that even though the ride is firm it isn’t crashy. This bodes well. It all feels very normal 911 when you first set off, not a big car, fairly slim and has good visibility. But you can feel that under your right foot you have control of something far more animalistic – it’s hard to quantify but between the firm ride, the harder edged exhaust note and the slightly sensitive accelerator you just get the impression that it is a machine designed with a very specific purpose – engaging the driver. I put the PDK-S into Sport too for faster shifts and slot the gear lever over to Manual so I’m in control.

When the first bit of open road appears I accelerate and I’m pressed into the seat with incredible force, clicking up through the gears in a blur of revs, howling flat-six and sheer speed. It’s thrilling, amazing, engaging, visceral, everything I’d hoped, then I realise that I barely went above 6000rpm. Gulp. Okay then GT3, you win, I’m clearly a bit less many than I thought – let’s try to remedy that. In order to ensure I don’t lose my licence I’ll only redline it in the lower gears, so off I go and introduce the loud pedal to the bulkhead.            


It’s safe to say that they acceleration of this 500hp supercar is brutal, that’s a given. But I wasn’t expecting the noise. Up to 4000rpm it’s bassy, loud but rumbly, then up to 6000rpm it changes, gets a harder more raw edge to it. At that point I can only assume that the GT3 channels the Devil and goes from raw to angry to plain homicidal maniac and screams, shouts and wails its way to the 9000rpm red line. It is something no petrolhead could ever get tired of and I end up doing it time and time again all day. I think visceral is the best word to describe the experience, it assaults all of your senses and is like some sort of highly addictive drug. The gearbox is other-worldly too, the speed at which is shifts up is as close to instantaneous as you’d want while the downshifts are perfection, a blip of throttle all done absurdly quickly.

One thing that really surprised me though was that it was so approachable – even when heading towards the redline in 2nd on wet, greasy, leaf covered roads I didn’t once think it was going to bite me. Sure, the rear end was squirming around a bit but it was totally controlled – you can thank the engine being over the rear wheels for that giving excellent traction. Once the novelty had worn off (okay, that never actually happened but I needed to try some other aspects of the car) I searched for some good twisty roads and put the other handling attributes to the test. As expected the GT3 is beyond reproach here too – the steering is direct, weighty and transmits just the right amount of feel and information about what the car is doing to your hands. The suspension may be firm, but it is fantastically well controlled and you very rarely feel like the car is getting out of its depth, in fact you become painfully aware that the GT3’s limits are far, far beyond your own.

This is the kind of car that goads you into pushing harder and harder, pushing what you think is the limit and impressing you more and more every time. It is easily the most engaging and fun car I’ve driven in a long time, there’s just something about it that makes you want to keep driving until the tank is empty or your wallet is. Once again Porsche has hit a home run.

Of course you can’t actually buy a new GT3 any more, they’re incredibly limited and only went to those with a very long standing relationship with their Porsche dealer, but thanks to us here at BOTB you can win one for just £11.25 in our competition. It’s only available until midnight on Sunday and if you buy 5+ tickets they’re £9.00 each, or 10+ tickets and they’re just £6.75 each. Bargain.