Performance Car of the Year 2018: Porsche 911 GT3
The Porsche 911 GT3 is the 2018 Auto Express Performance Car of the Year, with the Aston Martin Vantage and BMW M5 commended
There’s no better place to shape a high-octane model than the competitive world of motorsport; this is exactly where the GT3 was developed. It’s a racetrack refugee, with a 4.0-litre flat-six engine that’s been carried over pretty much wholesale from the German brand’s Carrera Cup racer. It serves up 493bhp and revs to 9,000rpm, emitting an addictive, race car-like howl in the process.
There are PDK dual-clutch auto and manual models to choose from. Go for the former and with launch control the 0-62mph sprint takes 3.4 seconds; opt for the latter and while you’ll sacrifice some speed you’ll easily gain this back in interaction and involvement.
Both transmission options are the best of their kind, with the PDK slicing through gears with barely believable speed and the manual offering a lovely mechanical shift.
However, straights are not the GT3’s territory, because it comes alive in the twisty stuff. The rear-engined layout has been refined and exploited to provide incredible traction out of corners without compromising the handling.
In fact, the GT3’s balance and poise are beautiful. The chassis generates stupendous grip, but this is teamed with a level of communication that inspires confidence for you to push what’s possible when it comes to performance.
The chassis, engine and gearbox work together so harmoniously that you can take liberties in the GT3 where once a hardcore 911 with its rear-engined layout would punish mistakes. Adaptive dampers mean on track in Sport mode the GT3 will hop over kerbs like a full-on race car, with brilliant body control, hardly any roll and enough grip to test your core strength.
But despite this, back the suspension off to its Normal setting and the GT3 is genuinely usable on the road; the car’s damping never feels anything less than expensive and plush, regardless of which driving mode you’re in.
The GT3 is engaging at all speeds, but it makes most sense when you increase your effort at the wheel. Then the 911’s talents reveal themselves in full – including that noise, which in a world of turbocharged performance car rivals, defines the whole experience.
Porsche 911 GT3 (£111,802)
The GT3 is a standalone model. You get a choice of manual and PDK boxes, as well as a Touring option that has less obvious styling. The PDK is a tech masterpiece, but for the ultimate in driver fun we’d recommend you change gears yourself with the manual. Carbon brakes resist fade better, but the standard steel set-up will be cheaper to replace if you’re a track-day junkie.
Aston Martin Vantage
In its new Vantage, Aston has combined AMG’s brutish 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with British style and craftsmanship to deliver a superbly involving sports car that doubles as a brilliant GT. The soundtrack, performance and rear-drive balance are delectable. This is Aston at its new best.
The supersaloon arms race continues and the latest M5 delivers stunning performance. There’s now four-wheel drive to harness that power, but it’s switchable, with a two-wheel-drive drift mode that highlights its playful side. It’s devastatingly effective and brilliantly usable, yet delivers the refinement, tech and comfort you want from an executive car.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2018
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- 1IntroductionWhat are the best new cars to buy in the UK today? The 2018 New Car Awards have the answer...
- 2Car of the YearThe Auto Express Car of the Year for 2018 is the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace
- 3City Car of the YearThe Volkswagen up! is the 2018 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Kia Picanto and Skoda Citigo commended
- 4Supermini of the YearThe Ford Fiesta is the 2018 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the MINI 5-door and SEAT Ibiza commended
- 5Convertible of the YearThe MINI Convertible is the 2018 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A3 Cabriolet and Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet commended
- 6Compact Family Car of the YearThe Volkswagen Golf is the 2018 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year, with the Mercedes A-Class and Skoda Octavia commended
- 7Family Car of the YearThe Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is the 2018 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Superb and Toyota Prius commended
- 8Compact Executive Car of the YearThe Mercedes C-Class is the 2018 Auto Express Compact Executive Car of the Year, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE commended
- 9Executive Car of the YearThe BMW 5 Series is the 2018 Auto Express Executive Car of the Year, with the Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S90 commended
- 10Estate Car of the YearThe Skoda Octavia Estate is the 2018 Auto Express Estate Car of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series Touring and Volvo V60 commended
- 11Small SUV of the YearThe Citroen C3 Aircross is the 2018 Auto Express Small SUV of the Year, with the SEAT Arona and Volkswagen T-Roc commended
- 12Mid-size SUV of the YearSkoda is on a roll, and the Karoq is proof that the Czech brand knows exactly what it’s doing in the field of family SUVs.
- 13Large SUV of the YearThe Skoda Kodiaq is the 2018 Auto Express Large SUV of the Year, with the Peugeot 5008 and SsangYong Rexton commended
- 14Small Premium SUV of the YearThe Volvo XC40 is the 2018 Auto Express Small Premium SUV of the Year, with the BMW X1 and MINI Countryman commended
- 15Mid-size Premium SUV of the YearThe BMW X3 is the 2018 Auto Express Premium Mid-size SUV of the Year, with the Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60 commended