Road tests 11.10.2017 10:00 am

Road Test: Porsche 911 GT3 for the purists

You won’t find a more rewarding drive for R 2 750 000, or any other price for that matter.

Many manufacturers try and claim that they are building race cars for the road, but very few succeed.

Unlike Porsche, who have managed to nail this feeling to the tar, so to speak, with their new 911 GT3, that is aptly said to be “born in Flacht”.

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I will save you the trouble of Googling this fact, Flacht is the little village in Germany where Porsche develops and builds all their race cars from the ground up, in a state-of-the-art 12 000m2 facility.

And one thing you can’t deny, Porsche has many years of motorsport history to call on when it comes to making race cars go fast. Some of the world’s most technically-sophisticated race cars, such as the 911 GT3 Cup, 911 RSR and 919 Hybrid cars are all born in Flacht.

From the initial sketch to the final lap on the dedicated test track, it all happens at Flacht.

They even have their own wind tunnel and test rigs to simulate performance under real-life conditions.

Another important component is the driving simulator, where technical changes are simulated and immediately tested by their works drivers.

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There is even a separate area for pit stop training, where teams practise for the real thing and the battle for every hundredth of a second.

And this is why Flacht is also known as the home of motorsport, and the road-going 911 GT3 you can buy from your local Porsche dealership, and are about to read about, comes straight out of this facility.

So, just how good is the new 911 GT3? From the outside you just know that this car means business, running on big 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, massive brakes, air ducts in all the right places and a big carbon wing on the back, that is not there for show, but for more downforce and grip.

Sliding inside, you are greeted by lightweight bucket sports seats, a steering wheel minus all the fancy buttons and a roll cage behind you courtesy of the optional Clubsport Package.

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Turn the key and the naturally aspirated engine barks into life in a way that only serves to up the excitement of what is to come.

This high-revving 4.0-litre also makes no excuses, nor does it try and pretend to be politically correct in civilised company. It unleashes 368kW of power and 460Nm of torque in the most spine chilling wail you can find coming out of the back of a car on the road today.

The engine is said to be virtually a carbon copy of that in the thoroughbred 911 GT3 Cup racing car, and you can order the car with an optional six-speed sports manual transmission or keep the standard, track optimised, seven-speed Porsche PDK transmission.

It was the PDK version I got to drive in and around the Western Cape, on roads that seem like they were made just for this car.

Once the tyres were warmed up a little, it was time to unleash the beast and scare little children and conservative elders, and with a motorsport like power to weight ratio and a 9 000rpm red line, I can’t lie, I had absolute fun in doing so.

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The handling is razor sharp and the steering as sharp and as direct as you could ever want, and attacking one set of corners after another soon becomes your number one priority.

But there should be a little warning, the steering gets quite lively when you are fully committed to a corner and the tar is not that smooth midway through.

I found it was best to slightly relax my grip of the steering wheel and let the car, and not me, do more of the sorting of itself out.

Make no mistake, the grip levels for a powerful rear wheel driven car is phenomenal, and you never feel like it is going to simply turn around on you.

But you should respect the laws of physics. The rear axle steering and rear diff lock can only do so much when you run out of talent.

And then when you back it off again, the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) shock-absorber system softens up enough so that you can actually drive the car in a very civilised fashion in relative comfort.

Maybe make use of the standard fitment Porsche Track Precision app, which you can access via your smartphone, that provides you with detailed performance data from the various laps you might do at your local track first.

We know it is fast around corners, doing a 7.12:7 lap at the Nurburgring according to the internet, but I invited my trusty Racelogic VBOX along for the drive, and took a little detour to a local private airstrip, and ran the GT3 to 1km to see what it could do in a straight line at the coast.

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Obviously, testing claimed a top speed of 318km/h and I would say the car will do at least that should you have the space to do so.

Back to the data, the GT3 ran spot-on its claimed numbers by hitting 100km/h in 3.43 seconds, the quarter mile in 11.33 seconds at 207km/h and ran through the 1km at 20.37 seconds and 260km/h.

So, it’s just as fast in a straight line as it is around corners, and it is comfortably quicker than the Gen 1 car it replaces.

That said, is it the fastest car on the planet in terms of straight line numbers?

No, but you won’t find a more rewarding road car to drive hard and fast at R 2 750 000, or any other price for that matter.

This new Porsche 911 GT3 is 100% about man and machine. Only purists need apply, the meek and mild should look elsewhere.

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