The Porsche 911 has been around for 50 years. With its classic design and tendency to eat up racing trophies, it’s hard to miss, and Porsche is marking the anniversary at this month’s Geneva Motor Show by unveiling the latest 911 GT3. The new high performance race track version of the 911 features a newly-engineered boxer engine, transmission, body and chassis to create what Porsche calls the “sportiest 911” with “a highly emotional fun factor."
Porsche has never been known for blowing the development budget on restyling the 911. Nor for it turning the car into a wedge one year and then a collection of air ducts and slits the next. For half a century, the look of the 911 hasn't changed much. It’s a bit like a Zippo lighter or a Swiss Army knife. People keep saying that it looks a bit “samey” and wondering why Porsche doesn’t change the design, but no one can come up with a good reason why.
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Instead, where Porsche concentrates its attention is on the engineering inside the classic bodywork. It’s as though Porsche’s engineers have a bet on how far they can take the little rear-engine coupé before the envelope shreds. The result is a remarkably evolving performance car – even if does try to climb trees on occasion.
The Porsche 911 GT3 is based on the current 911 Carrera. Not surprisingly, this track denizen is built to keep things simple and the weight down. The interior is a bit spartan, but refreshingly functional. The 911 GT3 has a new all-aluminum chassis with a lightweight yet stiff body, with independent front and rear sections that can be adjusted by height, toe and camber.
Under the bonnet, the Porsche engineers went to town. The 911 GT3 has a naturally-aspirated, 3.8-liter, 6-cylinder boxer engine, which is derived from the 911 Carrera S (though they have few parts in common). It packs 475 bhp (350 kW) at 8,250 rpm and maxes out at 9,000 rpm. Most of the components were adapted or designed for the GT3, including the titanium connecting rods and forged pistons, the crankshaft, and the valve gear. With the lightweight chassis and body, this gives a power-to-weight ratio of 3.0 kg/hp.
The 911 GT3 boasts a specially developed dual-clutch transmission that is directly based on a motor racing sequential gearbox for high-traction rear-wheel drive. Add that all together, and stomping the pedal churns out a top speed of 315 km/h (195 mph) and an acceleration of 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.5 seconds and 200 km/h (124 mph) in less than 12 seconds. According to Porsche, it did the Nürburgring in under seven and a half minutes.
For the first time on a Porsche, the 911 GT3 has active rear wheel steering. Turn the steering wheel and, depending on the speed, the system steers the rear wheels in the same or opposite direction of the front wheels for higher precision and lateral dynamics. This will certainly be welcome news for anyone who's experienced the pendulum effect of going around a corner with that rear engine churning the wheels.
The new Porsche 911 GT3 goes on sale in August for €137,303 (about US$178,630). The Geneva Motor Show runs March 7 to 17.
The video below introduces the Porsche 911 GT3.