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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

After more than half a century of development, Porsche has honed its 911 model to the point where this GT3 version is the best performance car money can buy. It’s our 2018 champion.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Our choice

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.

Commended

Aston Martin Vantage

Aston Martin Vantage - front

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.

BMW M5

BMW M5 - front

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

For complete, in-depth coverage of the 2018 New Car Awards, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...

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