Road tests

New Porsche 911 GT3 2021 review

The leaner and meaner Porsche 911 GT3 is a focused track day machine

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Verdict

Initial impressions on our early track drive suggest this latest, 992 generation is a more focused 911 GT3 than before. Its handling backs up its looks, making it a supremely fast and confidence-inspiring track day tool. However, the sound of its naturally aspirated engine is something that doesn’t require anything other than clear tarmac to be enjoyed; we need to spend more time with it on UK roads, but at £127,820 the GT3 remains something of a bargain when compared with rivals. Its biggest problem is the fact that demand will undoubtedly outstrip supply.

Everyone loves playing Top Trumps. This number is more impressive than that number, therefore this car is better than that one. Simple. But often it’s too simplistic. That must certainly be what Porsche’s GT department is hoping people will think, because if you compare the specs of the old GT3 with that of the new one driven here, you’ll see only very small differences.

The engine in this new 992-generation remains essentially the same 4.0-litre, naturally aspirated flat-six that was in the old 991.2 car. Because that car’s seven-speed PDK gearbox is lighter than the latest eight-speed one adopted across other current 911s, that too has been carried over for the new GT3. The engine’s output has risen fractionally, by 10bhp and 10Nm, but because the car’s overall weight has also crept up by 5kg, the 0-62mph time and top speed are both unchanged. Not that 3.4 seconds for the benchmark sprint and 198mph flat out are anything to be sniffed at.

So in Top Trumps terms, the latest GT3 looks as though it’s treading water. Unless your cards happen to have a category for Nürburgring lap times, that is, because this latest car is a full 17 seconds faster around the Nordschleife than its predecessor, managing to dip below the magic seven-minute mark in the process.

Some of this is down to a big improvement in aerodynamics. That distinctive rear wing, with swan-neck supports attached to the upper rather than lower surface, combined with a new diffuser helps improve downforce by 50 to 150 per cent, depending on set-up.

Then there is the new front suspension. For the first time in its history, a Porsche 911 road car now comes with double wishbones instead of MacPherson struts. It has apparently been a difficult packaging problem to solve, but they’ve cracked it.

Get into the GT3 and you’ll find an exceptionally low driving position, particularly with the optional carbon-fibre bucket seats. Then it’s time to be slightly baffled by the PDK’s gear selector. It looks as though it should be attached to a manual gearbox, but there are definitely only two pedals and also a couple of paddles attached to the wheel (a six-speed manual is available, though).

Our test car came with the Clubsport pack, which is a no-cost option and adds a half cage for an extra sense of security and more motorsport drama. The engine sounds fabulously familiar as you start it up, but it’s the front suspension that immediately grabs your attention when you’re on the move. The steering is initially quite light, but every camber and bump elicits a reaction in the wheel, so that your hands feel constantly busy on a bumpy road. The whole car is firmer and more focused than its predecessor, too.

As much as it’s still enjoyable on the road, the GT3 feels more track-orientated than before, so it’s good to get a few laps around Bedford Autodrome. Here the car really starts to make sense. You instantly appreciate the changes to the front end, because not only is the initial reaction quicker as you turn into a corner, the outright grip feels much higher. You can load up the tyres to the point where you expect a 911’s nose to start pushing wide and then exceed this expectation by some margin.

The whole car feels supremely stable and reassuring, too. The gearbox’s shifts are lightning fast but super smooth, so they never threaten to unsettle the car. The Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres are progressive in the way they slide, and the way you can lean on the optional carbon-ceramic brakes is incredible when it comes to power and control. This feedback all adds up to give you huge confidence to carry speed.

Do you notice, or even care, that there isn’t much more power than in the previous generation? No, 503bhp is plenty and the triumph is that in the face of ever-tighter legislation, Porsche has retained a naturally aspirated engine that revs to a spine-tingling 9,000rpm. In a road car, it’s a soundtrack that arguably trumps all others.

Model:Porsche 911 GT3 PDK
Price:£127,820
Engine:4.0-litre flat-six
Power/torque:503bhp/470Nm
Transmission:Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive 
0-62mph:3.4 seconds
Top speed:198mph
Economy:21.7mpg
CO2:294g/km
On saleNow

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