Porsche 911 GT3 worthy of deep respect
Mark Smyth finally managed to tick the Porsche 911 GT3 off his bucket list
Every motoring journalist has their bucket list of cars they still want to drive. In my case it has models such as the Ferrari Testarossa, Audi Quattro Sport, BMW 507 and the Lotus Carlton.
I’ll get to them all one day I hope, but one which has also eluded me over the years is the Porsche 911 GT3.
Finally I have been able to tick that one off the list after Porsche asked me if I wanted to go to Cape Town to play in the mountains. No-brainer, really.
I arrived to be greeted by Flacht-GP.
For the uninitiated, Flacht is the hometown in Germany of Porsche Motorsport.
I felt like I needed to perform some kind of ceremony, perhaps kneeling down with candles around the car, paying it due respect. Perhaps I should spend less time staring at it in reverence and just drive. So I did.
I could fill the rest of the page with those terrible motoring hack cliches: it leaps like a scalded cat, it handles like it’s on rails, it has go-kart handling; I could say it is amazing, the best car I’ve driven, the experience epic. All those cringeworthy cliches would be justifiable.
The race-tuned engine is all natural, no turbocharging here. It produces 368kW and 460Nm of torque.
Porsche claims it can do 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 318km/h in the PDK-equipped version I drove. I have no reason to dispute those performance figures, but this car is not about a 0-100 sprint time. It is about the experience.
Without a track to hand, I headed for the Franschhoek Pass, an enthusiast’s favourite. With massive drops on either side, you have to know what you are doing and trust the machine you are behind the wheel of.
But first I had to get used to the GT3. The driving position is perfect, of course, as it is with most 911 models. The sound from the engine is addictive, even more so if you push the PDK Sport button to sharpen its senses and that exhaust button to deepen the growl.
On the journey from Cape Town to Franschhoek, the car proved that while it might be a race car for the road, it retains the characteristics that make the 911 still one of the best all-round sports cars available. It was comfortable even on some of the bumpier roads, although the nose had a tendency to feel a little light on some surfaces.
Ambling along the back roads provided a chance to look at that massive rear spoiler in the rear-view mirror. It is, of course, there for aerodynamics and grip, but it looks cool too.
The steering felt direct and in tune with what I wanted it to do, while the suspension in standard mode gave me a detailed explanation of the surface beneath the rubber. But the GT3 is not about ambling, even though it is quite competent at it. It is about sitting at the bottom of a mountain pass, or the exit to a pit lane, with your right foot eager quivering in anticipation.
And then you go. No sign of the light front end now. The GT3 dials in everything it has and grips the road as though your life depends on it. And it does. This is Franschhoek Pass with its canyon drops.
The torque line is incredible, pushing all the way to the 9,000r/min redline. But you don’t need to go that far.
Maximum power comes in at 8,250 and maximum torque at 6,000, but leave the PDK box to do its own thing and you will be doing ridiculous speeds if you reach those peaks.
Letting the gearbox think for itself allows you to focus on the task at hand, managing every corner, monitoring the road around you and revelling in the performance.
It really is very good and very rewarding — an involved drive, requiring every ounce of concentration, but damn is it fun.
So much so in fact that I turned around and did the pass again. And again.
This is where the GT3 feels most at home, that and any racetrack, of course. I’d like to think that it loved it as much as I did. Yes, I know I’m being a bit gushy about a 911 again, but if you are judging me then it can only be because you have never driven one and you have certainly never driven a GT3.
I’ve ticked it off my bucket list at last and now have even more respect for it.