There's no better word for it. That is the sound that the Porsche 3.8-liter flat-6 makes as it rages toward its fuel cutoff at 8,500 rpm. Here, blazing across the Mojave Desert, this engine is motivating the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 to the tune of almost 155 mph. Finally our fear of arrest outweighs our desire to hear the engine completely unwind itself, so this winged demon of a car will not be reaching its claimed top speed of 193 mph today.
But even now, at 227 feet per second, stability rules. There's nothing to indicate the chassis of the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 is remotely troubled by this high-speed pace. Steering has the same weighty confidence it demonstrated 50 mph ago, body motions are insignificant, mirrors don't even vibrate. All these qualities are good indications that this GT3 — the most special of Porsches — has done this before.
And that it's made for it.
That the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 is among Porsche's most serious driving cars is no secret. Still, we're more impressed than ever by this machine's distinct lack of compromise. Its singularity of purpose is evident in every control that you touch in the cockpit.
Porsche makes no effort to hide the GT3's purpose with controls that feel artificially light. Forget about a city-friendly, M3-like clutch effort. Motivating the GT3 without a bog or a jolt requires immense attention to the clutch's friction point, not to mention precise throttle application. Fluid gearchanges are only achieved with deliberate shoves of the shift lever matched to precise footwork with the clutch and throttle pedals. Steering loads are considerable. Taken as a whole, nothing about the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 feels quite right in the urban environment of daily life.
And that's intentional, because this car isn't meant for any urban environment.
It's only when the GT3 leaves the city and finds the right road or the right racetrack that this car melds with its driver. Its high-effort controls demand deliberate, decisive and honest inputs, but the reward comes in the form of dynamic limits higher than in virtually any other road car.
Not for Sissies
Perhaps more than any other made today, the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 is capable of delivering an intense driving experience. It requires a certain dedication, as this car isn't going to win any fans from the softer-is-better camp. It's solid. It's loud. Its tires scream. And what it offers in control, it compromises in comfort. This is not the realm of the happy medium. This is the land of commitment.
Thankfully, there's still one car available today that's not afraid to make a statement about its purpose.
Make no mistake, the GT3 screams its intent with ample volume. Should you miss this not-so-subtle message in its every nuance, it will discipline. We operated the GT3 on the track and on the road with the knowledge that it won't hesitate to punish mistakes. Restraint is one word to describe our approach. Sissy is another.
Certainly, this Porsche clearly communicates its intentions when it comes to dynamic performance, and your efforts through the controls will bend the GT3 to your will. But even expert drivers will do well to understand that the laws of physics still apply. This unique machine places 61 percent of its weight on its rear axle and makes peak power at a staggering 7,600 rpm, and such a combination demands control inputs of textbook correctness. Drive accordingly.
We did and found that straight braking, late turn-in and tempered throttle application still made this car faster than just about anything else we've driven.
More Power, Same Weight
As we learned in our First Drive of the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3, this new-generation GT3 has the new 3.8-liter flat-6 to replace the former 3.6, and output has increased to 435 horsepower from 415 hp while torque leaps to 317 pound-feet of torque from 299 lb-ft. Within the flat-6 you'll find forged titanium connecting rods, and there's infinitely variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust cams.
Still, this is a relatively old engine in Porsche's quiver. This mill has its roots in Porsche's GT1-class racing efforts, yet it still doesn't incorporate direct injection like most of the latest street-legal engines. (Of course, this means there's plenty of room to turn the screws power-wise on the next GT3.) And forget about a dual-clutch automated manual transmission and plan on doing the shifting yourself, because power is delivered through only a six-speed manual transaxle and limited-slip differential.
Though the 2010 GT3 incorporates a larger engine and some additional features, it weighs the same as the previous-generation GT3. Our heavily optioned test car weighs 3,271 pounds, only 33 pounds more than the 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 we tested.
When it comes to getting down the road, the GT3 doesn't quite have the outright power and grip of the 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo, but it still wastes no time honking through a quarter-mile pass. Our tester manages the task in 11.9 seconds at 119.4 mph, 0.3 second quicker and 3 mph faster than the previous GT3. Acceleration to 60 mph from a standstill requires 4.0 seconds (issues with the grip from our test surface likely accounts for the car's inability to match the former GT3's 3.9-second mark), and when you allow 1 foot of rollout as you would on a drag strip, the new GT3's performance improves to 3.8 seconds.
Stopping from 60 mph requires only 99 feet and proves utterly uneventful. Our test car wasn't fitted with the optional carbon-ceramic brake rotors but did carry sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires.
Unfortunately our test surface also compromised slalom and skid-pad performance, as this new GT3 splits the slalom cones at 73.4 mph and circles the skid pad at 0.98g. Our 2007 GT3 had the benefit of a perfectly smooth surface designed for automotive testing and it delivered 75.3 mph in the slalom and a staggering 1.02g on the skid pad.
Aerodynamic downforce is nearly doubled relative to the former GT3 thanks in part to a new rear wing design. The other half of the equation is a ride height that's a full 1.2 inches lower than a current Porsche 911 Carrera, a measure that diminishes speed-sapping airflow beneath the car. A flat under-car tray with ducting for the rear brakes further enhances aerodynamics.
Mitigating damage to the GT3's low-riding front aero splitter is an optional system that reinstates that lost 1.2 inches of ride height at the push of a button by inflating air chambers in the front dampers. It's a particularly nice feature that we used to navigate every manner of obstacle, from drainage ditches to driveways.
That said, Porsche's Active Suspension Management (PASM) is part of the GT3 in conjunction with stiffer springs and antiroll bars. Pushing the Sport button further increases damping. The system remains active by retaining the ability to switch to a milder damping curve should it sense a rough road.
Other proof that the GT3 is only a set of slicks away from being a full racecar? How about the reduction of unsprung weight and rotational mass with the use of a central locking nut on the wheels?
The Final Tally
Starting at a price of $113,150, the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 isn't light on the wallet. Our test car wore a long list of options, including $2,295 adaptive sport seats and the $3,490 axle-lift system for the front wheels. The total, including the $1,300 gas-guzzler tax and $950 destination fee, comes to $131,400.
More important than the price of this Porsche is the fact that the GT3 is among an ever-diminishing category of performance cars built today. It is fast and it is relatively simple. There is no all-wheel drive and no automatically shifting transmissions to muck up the driving experience. Sure, the electronics incorporate safety nets if you choose to use them. But they can be fully disabled so the GT3 driver can at once experience unbridled oneness with the machine and unfettered fear of death.
The 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 is a machine devoted to driving. This is an incredible engine and genuinely accomplished chassis. This is, well, rippin'.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Lead Senior Editor Ed Hellwig says:
Every time I see some executive-type rolling along in a 911 and yapping into his cell phone, I worry that Porsche has gone too soft. I mean if the average rich guy finds a 911 so comfortable and sedate that he has no problem commuting and otherwise conducting business in it, maybe the 911 has lost its edge.
A drive in the GT3 is about all it takes to know that Porsche is well aware of its ever-expanding customer base. Sure, it builds the standard models to appease the less serious drivers who are in it for the style and the nameplate, and then it builds a car like the GT3, a car so deadly serious that it demands your attention in every respect.
No, it's not going to send you into a wall with one errant throttle stomp like some first-generation Viper, but it will stall if you get cute with the clutch. And it will grind gears if you're not deliberate with the shifter. And it will dart all over the road if you have one hand on the wheel. It's also quite loud inside and rough roads can be a bit miserable.
Then again, if you do pay attention and drive like you mean it, the GT3 returns the favor. Perfect steering, monstrous brakes that aren't hard to modulate and grip that's near impossible to overcome. Oh, and that sound is worth all the effort. It's an intense experience, sometimes too intense, but when was the last time you got out of a car feeling a little bit scared of it? Yeah, that's the GT3.
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