New Porsche 991 GT3. First Drive. – /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

New Porsche 991 GT3. First Drive. – /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS


[CAR ENGINE] I don’t suppose any car this
year will require less introduction than this. Come on, people. It’s the new GT3. [CAR ENGINE] And so this is the new GT3
being driven up a hill somewhere in Europe. Wow. What to make of this car? Well, let’s drive it fast, and
try and explain some of what’s going on. I’ve got all the systems
switched off at the moment. I’ve got the PDK gearbox in
normal, that’s what’s advised. I’ve got the sports exhaust
on, and I’m shifting gear myself. This is quite a car. Revs to 9,000 RPM. Rear-wheel steering, well,
that’s something new for me. Because if I do this– then the steering goes
to absolutely fixed. [CAR ENGINE] It’s incredible, the calibration
work they’ve done. The chassis is a massive
step on. We’ve got a wider front track. The car just turns so much
better than the 997 version. And because of the four-wheel
steer working now, actively, it’s much more agile. Much more agile. Steering, well, we’ll touch
on that again in a minute. The steering is superb compared
to the normal 901. There’s a lot more weight. I just feel more connected. Now, let that engine go. 8. That’s 9. The last 500 RPM. Wow. Just wow. Interestingly, when I’m driving
like this, I’m not actually thinking, where’s
my manual gearbox? But that does come. I assure you, that does come. This isn’t quite one of
our normal videos. It was a smash and grab effort,
shot on my own, hence the camera sitting
in the passenger seat most of the time. Because we had a chance to drive
an engineering car very early, and I grabbed it. But before we delve further,
let’s have a look around. You really need to see this
thing in the flesh to appreciate how much punchier
it looks than a base 991. That protruding chin-line, the
big splitter element, and some gaping intakes give the 991 GT3
a menace that’s missing in the base car. You’ll need the optional front
axle lifter in town, as well. The car uses the wider 991 body
shell, which is almost all aluminum. And the claimed curb weight is
1,430 kilograms, which has got people screaming
it’s too heavy. But then, it does now
have a PDK jaw clutch gearbox as standard. Porsche claims it can shift in
less than 100 milliseconds. There is no manual option. I’ll repeat that. There is no manual option. The box itself is heavier,
but the new motor is lighter than before. It’s a 3.8-liter flat-6, based
on the Carrera motor, and it produces 475 horsepower
at 8,250 RPM, and 325 foot-pounds of torque. The limiter is set
at 9,000 RPM. The claimed 0-to-100 time
is 7.5 seconds, which is naffing fast. The ring lap time is 7 minutes,
25 seconds, on both OE tires, the Dunlop
and the Michelin. These are the optional 20-inch
forged rims, which look achingly gorgeous, and
are beautifully dished at the rear. For the first time, there is an
OE Dunlop tire, measuring 305/30 at the rear and
245/35 at the front. The rear steering works in the
opposite direction to the front wheels below 50 miles
an hour, and in the same direction above that speed. So at low speed you get a
shorter wheelbase feeling, and at high speed a longer wheelbase feeling for stability. The interior’s pretty subtle. This car has the club sport
pack, which gives you a bolt-in rear cage and
a fire extinguisher. The carbon buckets
have fixed backs. All the control surfaces are
Alcantara covered, except this engineering car has
a leather wheel. And there’s enough GT3 badging
to remind you that you’re not driving a Carrera, although you
should be shot if the way this thing demolishes a road
doesn’t decide this for you. There are some funky
GT RS gadgets, too. This performance meter thing
I didn’t really understand. And the G-meter is a
bit pointless, too. But then, people love toys. Me, I’m kind of more interested
in the way the new GT3 drives. Now, I’ve thought long
and hard about how to approach this car. How I should approach it as
a journalist, how I should approach it as a previous GT3
owner, how I should approach it as a GT3 fan. [CAR ENGINE] And I’ve reached this
conclusion. I think I need to separate
the factual from the philosophical, OK? So I’ll deal with the
factual first. This is what I see as the
facts of the situation. A company like Porsche– any company that makes sports
cars that’s a sort of pioneer, a market leader, whether it’s a
Ferrari, or a Maserati, or a BMW, an Audi, a Mercedes
AMG,– they have to improve on the car
that they replaced, right? So the new GT3 had to identify
what the old 997 GT3 did, and do those things better. [INAUDIBLE] lack of knowledge of
those cars, I spent quite a bit of time in them. And the way I saw it,
the following things were not very good. The front axle grip, at
times, wasn’t what you wanted it to be. It was a bit of a problem. You found you had a
lot of understeer. Getting the car into a
corner was a problem. You had quite an aggressive
differential that added to that understeer, but then gave
you quite severe oversteer after that neutral point. So the front axle of the car was
always a bit of a problem. Another problem is that even
though people like me loved the manual gearbox and felt it
was the last of the great driver’s cars, there were an
unknown number of people– I say unknown, because they
never got the chance to buy one– who wanted some
paddles and didn’t want a manual gearbox. And that’s the way the market
is inextricably going. So factual situation is this. Porsche’s fixed the front axle
problems on this car, for a combination of wider front
track, a totally different set of kinematics, and lower arms
to a normal 901 Carrera. [CAR ENGINE] And this very clever rear-wheel
steer system– we can break down how it works
and the way it does things, but the reality is, on
the road, you just don’t notice it. You just have a steering wheel
that, when you turn the car, makes this car feel a whole
load more agile, and transparent, and easier to
go fast in, than a 997. It just wants to go
into corners. They’ve got a 997 GT3 here, I
just jumped into it, and it feels ancient by comparison. You can’t believe how much arm
work you’ve got to put in. So, yes. In those terms, it’s
a massive result. The steering. Oh yeah. There are no mechanical
hardware changes to this over a Carrera. It’s just a calibration
and software job. But by hell, if this steering
doesn’t appear on every single 911 soon, I’d be amazed. OK, we’ve got different tracks,
we’ve got a different tire, we’ve got different spring
and damper rates, we’ve got a solidly-mounted
lower-suspension arms– that all helps give us a better
connection to the road. But this is, by far and away–
in fact, by a margin I can’t even explain– better than any
electric power steering I’ve ever driven. It really is quite superb. Got a lot more weight to it. Not once today have I
thought I wish it had hydraulic steering. And that’s a surprise, because
I thought I would. [CAR ENGINE] What about the engine? Well, again, factually, once
you’ve driven this thing, you’ll forget the Metzger
ever existed. I mean it revs, and
revs, and revs. [CAR ENGINE REVVING] OK, it’s only 500, 600 RPM
more than last time. But that last 600
RPM, the noise– this sort of hard, mechanical
valve-train noise that comes through– that is addictive. Absolutely addictive. And it’s a step change. It’s something entirely new. OK, it doesn’t rattle and
graunch and make quite as many characterful noises as before,
but this doesn’t feel very related to a 901 that comes
straight out of a 991 Carrera. It feels very different. Very different. How they’re gonna make it
reliable to 9,000 RPM over 100,000 miles, I don’t know. But they’re Porsche, so
I’m sure they will. Let’s talk about the
transmission. Comfortably the best PDK that
Porsche’s ever made. Fast, intuitive. And just a step beyond in terms
of what you can extract on the road, in terms
of performance. And for many people, I
suppose, enjoyment. For me, maybe not. But let me try and alter my
point of reference for a minute and pretend that– I’m in a sports car market,
I’m not, you know, David Coulthard, I’m not Mark Lieb. I’m a normal driver. Well, I can extract so much
more performance from this car, compared to its
predecessor, you can’t make a comparison. You just pull a lever, down two
gears, I execute a perfect heel-and-toe, I’m
into the turn– because that front axle
wants to turn– I’ve gotten amazing traction
from those massive rear Dunlops on this car– it’s easy. It really is easy. And it’s– you know what? Earlier, I was going quite fast
on some technical roads, and I didn’t once think
I want a manual. Because I realized that if I had
a manual I’d almost have too much work to do. Where does that leave us? Well, it leads us to the
philosophical question. And that’s, should I be in a car
with a badge that says GT3 on the boot, and all this
heritage and history, and not once have I changed gear myself
in the time I’ve been talking to you? I’ve just left it in automatic,
and it’s been doing it all for me. Philosophically, is
that acceptable? Is that the way things
should be? Hmm. I’m not so sure. I think this car, objectively,
is everything I hoped it would be, and better. It’s so fast, it makes
an amazing noise. It just takes the game
to a new level. But I think a GT3– or maybe not a GT3, but a car
built by Porsche, the shape of a 911, with this engine– should be the last bastion of
the manual gear change. I think it’s a massive shame
that they haven’t made the car with a manual gearbox. But I can’t beat up what
I’ve got here, because it’s so good. It’s such a good car to drive. And it is so much fun. But I do miss the fact that
it’s not a manual. And I think there is a small
portion of the marketplace that will feel disenfranchised,
and might not go out and buy the car. My guess is that for every one
that doesn’t buy it there might be three or four that
do buy it because of what it’s become. What does that tell
me about the GT3? It probably tells me more about
my beliefs in cars, and what I want, and how that
doesn’t sync with the marketplace, than it does about
the GT3, if I’m being honest with you. But when you’re up it, when
you’re driving it fast and you step out of it, it is
a piece of work. [CAR ENGINE] [CAR ENGINE REVVING]