Porsche made a lot of people angry when it launched the last 911 GT3. It was more powerful, better looking and much, much faster than the car it replaced, but there was something missing: a manual gearbox. Along with an all-new engine, the latest GT3 adds a stick-shift option to the spec sheet in an attempt to placate the purists. Oh, and the seats have stripes on them now. It's the little things, right?
Although the new GT3 comes with the option of a six-speed manual, you can still order it with the same seven-speed dual-clutch (PDK) automatic as before. If you're buying the car based on performance figures, that'll be the one to have because, although both transmissions are hooked up to the same 500 hp (373 kW) engine, the quick-shifting dual-clutch auto is 0.6 seconds faster to 60 mph (98 km/h) than the manual.
Then again, to buy a car like the GT3 based on numbers would be to completely miss the point. If you want to feel a part of the process and really work for your laptimes, the stick shift will be the one to have. Interestingly, it also has a 1 mph (1.6 km/h) advantage over the PDK in the top-speed stakes, topping out at 198 mph (319 km/h).
Beyond the new engine and transmission combos, the new GT3 is even more track-focused than the car it replaces. Rear-wheel steering is still standard, as is a locking rear differential and dynamic engine mounts, but Porsche says the real improvements have been made in the aerodynamics package.
The new rear wing is taller and mounted further back than before, the front splitter cools the engine and brakes more efficiently than before, and a set of ram-air intakes for the engine frees up an extra 10 hp (7.5 kW) on a testing dynamometer. A new rear diffuser should help slam the rear axle into the road even more aggressively than before, and looks cool to boot.
Styling is very much a case of form following function on the new GT3, but that's no bad thing. We're huge fans of the massive rear wing, and the carry-over dished wheels still look properly mean, although the front splitter is slightly more awkward than before. Inside, the only real difference between the new car and its predecessor is a new set of graphics on the seats and, depending on spec, the third pedal in the footwell.
Pricing starts at US$143,600 and the car will be in dealerships in Autumn (Northern Hemisphere) this year. It's also on display at the Geneva Motor Show, where New Atlas is on the ground covering all the action.