Porsche 911 GT3 test drive: a track car for the streets, despite minor bumps

Loud, proud and utterly glorious, this is the ultimate racer you can sneak out on to the road

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The new Porsche 911 GT3 is a barely veiled cover of an all-out race car from arguably the world’s most successful sports car maker, and it’s available for the street.

Developed in collaboration with Porsche Motorsport, the GT3 transfers pure racing technology into a production model, as far as the rules will allow, to enter the GT3 class of motor racing with a mass-market car such as the 911.

Launched in 2006 as part of the FIA GT Championship, the GT3 category of racing is for sports cars with no limit on engine sizes or build numbers, but adopts a strict power-to-weight ratio to keep things competitive.

While several manufacturers developed a race car to satisfy the rule book, finding one to buy for the street is near impossible, whereas the 911 GT3 is stocked in showrooms and is street legal, complete with a roll cage and a basket of track-only options.

Seat options include a one-piece, leather-covered carbon-fibre shell that's ideal for the track and cushier, fully adjustable leather seats for more leg room. Photo: Porsche

Powered by a naturally aspirated, 4.0-litre, flat six-cylinder engine based on the racing power plant from the 911 GT3 R, it develops 510 horsepower (that’s 10hp more than the last 911), and delivers it at 8,400rpm, rising to an ear-splitting 9,000rpm red line with 470Nm of torque at 6,100rpm.

Unlike many modern high-performance supercars, the 911 GT3 has no gimmicks or computer trickery to get you from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 3.4 seconds or on to its 318kph top speed. There are no turbochargers or superchargers helping under the hood, and no ECU-assisted exhaust pops, fluted engine noise piped through the speakers or drift mode — because it doesn’t need it.

This is about as raw and as emotional as it gets in the 2022 performance car world and about as close to a race car for the street The National has ever tested.

Of course, with that comes the downsides of trying to drive a car which is built for the track in traffic. The GT3 is not the place to hold a conversation even when you’re taking it for a spin around town, as there’s little sound deadening to stop road noise from penetrating the cabin.

The car is powered by a naturally aspirated, 4.0-litre, flat six-cylinder engine. Photo: Damien Reid

Weight is the nemesis of performance, so Porsche has stripped 70 kilograms compared to the 911 Carrera S by removing sound insulation and using lightweight panels. This means things you’ve not previously noticed on your daily commute, such as the yellow lines across intersections or tiny gravel flicked up from the tyres, are now rather loud even at the slowest of speeds.

This being the most focused sports car Porsche makes, the suspension is stiff. When coupled to a seven-speed PDK transmission, it needs a gentle right foot when cold to ease it away without lurching at parking pace and must be treated with some respect.

Another urban hazard are the speedhumps, and, while several supercars feature a lift kit to raise the nose, the GT3’s party trick is that it remembers the hump or driveway lip with the nav system and prompts you to store the location in its memory, lowering again as you reach 30kph.

The lightweight theme continues through the interior with loads of carbon fibre. Looking over the dash, you can see the underside of the bonnet in naked carbon fibre as a reminder of the special vehicle under your control.

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre, flat six-cylinder
Transmission: seven-speed PDK
Power: 510hp
Torque: 470Nm
Price: from Dh634,200
On sale: now

The seats in our test car were a one-piece, leather-covered carbon-fibre shell that hug you tight and do a fantastic job on a racetrack. However, you may end up looking for a place to stretch your legs about 25 minutes in. Thankfully, Porsche also offers cushier, fully adjustable leather seats.

The options list is extensive, so while the 911 GT3 starts at Dh634,200, our test car maxed out at Dh774,200 with two pages of extras to make it a distinctive, one-off head-turner at every intersection.

The 911 GT3 is utterly glorious and the ultimate track car you can sneak out on to the road with the most evocative-sounding engine delivering a shrill that has been synonymous with sports car racing at places such as Le Mans, Spa and even the Dubai 24 Hour for decades.

It’s the sound of success because no car has won more races than the Porsche 911 and this GT3 model, which is made specifically to win endurance racing. Thankfully, you can also buy one for the road.

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The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre, flat six-cylinder
Transmission: seven-speed PDK
Power: 510hp
Torque: 470Nm
Price: from Dh634,200
On sale: now

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