The Porsche 911 celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2013, and there is perhaps no better way to begin the celebrations than by opening a fresh chapter in the arena of high performance sports cars with the new 911 GT3.
In 1999, the then-new 911 GT3 set the benchmark for road-going sports cars with the fastest ever production car lap of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, and established a reputation for itself as the definitive circuit-bred sports car. A total of 14,145 GT3 cars have since been built, over four generations.
Now, the fifth generation of the 911 GT3 makes its debut at the Geneva Salon, and is set to take on the pole position among thoroughbred Porsche sports cars with naturally aspirated engines.
The engine, transmission, body and chassis are entirely new, extending the breadth of ability offered by the previous 911 GT3 by an impressive margin. Together, they ensure that the proven characteristics of this track-inspired sports car are preserved, while also allowing more sophisticated day-to-day suitability – not to mention a highly emotional ‘fun factor’.
The powertrain of the new 911 GT3 comprises a 3.8-litre flat engine developing 475 hp (350 kW) at 8,250 rpm, a Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) double-clutch gearbox, and high-traction rear-wheel drive.
The six-cylinder engine is based on that fitted in the 911 Carrera S, but shares only a few common parts. All other components, particularly the crankshaft and valve train, were specially adapted or developed for the GT3. For example, Porsche is once again using titanium connecting rods attached to forged pistons. These basic modifications set the stage for an extreme high-revolution engine capable of reaching up to 9,000 rpm. The dual-clutch gearbox is another feature specially developed for the GT3, with characteristics inspired by the sequential gearboxes used in motor racing, thus granting the driver further benefits when it comes to performance and dynamics.
The new 911 GT3 is designed for further gains in precision and lateral dynamics throughout. Porsche is using active rear-wheel steering for the first time. Depending on the speed, the system steers in the opposite or the same direction as the front wheels, thereby improving agility and stability. Among the other new driving dynamics features are the electronically-controlled, fully variable rear differential lock, and the dynamic engine mounts.
The height, toe and camber of the newly-developed all-aluminium suspension is still adjustable. The new, 20-inch forged alloy wheels with central locking are used for optimal contact with the road. Traditionally, the 911 GT3 comes as a two-seater based on the lightweight body of the current-generation 911 Carrera. However, the front and rear part are always model-specific. For this latest generation, the 911 GT3 is 44 millimetres wider than a 911 Carrera S across the rear axle. Another clear identifying feature is the large, fixed rear wing. This makes a decisive contribution to the exemplary aerodynamics of the new 911 GT3, which combines low air resistance with a further increase in negative lift (downforce).
As a result, the new 911 GT3 once again sets fresh record performance values. At full acceleration from a standstill, 0-62mph is passed after just 3.5 seconds, and 124 mph in less than 12 seconds. The top speed of 195 mph is reached in seventh (and thus top gear) of the PDK transmission. The lap time on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is even more impressive: the new 911 GT3 completed this track, commonly regarded as the most difficult in the world, in less than 7:30 minutes. While every Porsche is proven around the Nürburgring, this credential is particularly relevant for the new model as around 80 per cent of 911 GT3 customers also drive their cars on race tracks.