Generations Porsche 911 GT3 : Gee-Whizz
Singapore - We return home to Singapore still tingling from the feels of hammering the 992 GT3 RS around the Silverstone Circuit in the UK to meet a trio of Porsche 911 GT3 models with its accompanying loyalist owners: the 997.2 GT3, 992 GT3 Touring (in manual) and 992 GT3 (in PDK).
Although we spent some time on the winding roads around Silverstone in the GT3 PDK and stick-shift GT3 Touring, this feature isn’t intended to be a comparo, because how predictable would that be?
Instead, we reckon it’s more interesting to talk about how the 911 GT3 has evolved from the last Mezger-engined Type 997.2 iteration to today’s latest Type 992 and to find out if it’s really true when they say, “The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same.”
With its dramatic motorsports-inspired aero and massive downforce, the type 992 GT3 RS certainly widens the performance and aero-aesthetic divide between GT3 and GT3 RS, as the RS is now properly squared-off visually, so even casual observers can appreciate the differences between the two.
From the very first 911 GT3, the Type 996.1, to the 997.2, the 911 GT3 proudly flew the ‘Save the Manuals’ colours, because this was the only transmission option for the model.
It wasn’t until the Type 991.1 that Porsche decided to offer both GT3 (and GT3 RS) as PDK-only (simmer down now, we can feel your remembered outrage from this side of the computer screen!)
Porsche reasoned that in the GT3 and GT3 RS’s quest for track and lap-time domination, the tireless and lightning-quick dual-clutch PDK gearbox was more precise, faster, and most importantly, more consistent than the human, corner after corner after corner, lap after lap after lap.
Naturally, the stick-shift purists and old-time Porschephiles more familiar with the brand’s raunchier GT models as manuals were up in arms. “How dare you!?” they demanded.
In response, Porsche dropped the unicorn Type 991 911 R in 2015/2016, a 6spd stick-shift rear-drive 911 animated by the operatic nat-asp 4.0-litre found in the 991.1 RS and produced in limited numbers.
Immediately, the world erupted in flames and Porschephiles lost their minds as the run of 991 units was quickly snapped up.
Much like the runaway success of the 996.2 911 GT3 RS, which pointed to a demand for a hardcore track-ready version of the GT3, the unbridled enthusiasm and ‘want’ surrounding the 911 R was enough for Porsche to bring the manual transmission back in a sporting GT model with the 991.2 GT3 (even if the GT3 RS and GT2 RS models would remain PDK-only).
A 6spd manual was offered as an option (instead of PDK) on the standard 991.2 GT3, but came standard on the then-newly-minted GT3 ‘Touring’ model, a stealthy and wingless iteration of the GT3 that attempted to give enthusiasts a taste of what they missed with the 911 R – a return to the soulful purity of manual engagement, both literally and metaphorically, without focusing on pure speed.
In the current era of the 992 GT3, there are now four variants of the GT3, because both GT3 and GT3 Touring models can now be enjoyed in PDK or 6spd manual configurations – a far cry from the time of the manual-only 997 GT3.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Porsche has a knack for creating highly-coveted ‘It’ sportscars that sees petrolhead pundits clambering onto the hype-train… and for good reason too.
The brand is so in sync with the pulse of the petrolhead vibe, it never has to chase the buyers, because it is the buyers that clamour for its exclusive and coveted Sonderwunsch and Porsche Motorsport products, such as the latest Sport Classic and any GT/RS model for instance, where demand very often outstrips supply.
Porsche’s depth of products spans 718 to 911 (with Macan, Cayenne, Panamera and Taycan in-between), which means there’s definitely a car to suit everyone.
This goes a long way towards explaining why the brand has expanded its GT3 repertoire to include even a PDK model for the Touring, because this lets a greater pool of enthusiasts enjoy the scintillating thrills of the GT3.
When you talk to the passionate owners, you’ll realise the fascination with the GT3 is akin to an addiction, with the highs coming from its high-revving nat-asp flat6 engines and the engaging dynamics.
2010 Porsche 911 GT3 (Type 997.2), GT Silver, Mark, 49yo
Some of you may remember this GT Silver 997.2 GT3 from our Mezger feature some years back alongside the 997 GT2.
Mark has owned this svelte GT Silver example for over a decade… and his passion for the car doesn’t seem to be waning any time soon!
He tells us, “I’ve always been an ardent fan of the Porsche 911 and the GT3 was my dream car. When I took delivery of my GT3 after a couple of 911s, it was everything that I had expected and more. At that time, it served as a comfortable daily driver and when it went on track it performed flawlessly as a track car without skipping a beat.”
“After 12 years of ownership, this remains the same. My GT3 is as reliable now as it has been the day I drove it out of the showroom and its relatively understated nature does not scream out for attention,” Mark continues.
What about the stick-shift transmission appeals to you? “As an old-school petrolhead, the manual shifter was and still is a joy to operate, because I love the analogue feel. Whilst nowhere as fast as the more recent generations of GT3s, I still enjoy the relative simplicity of the 997,” Mark explains.
He continues, “With more variations of the GT3 in the current 992 generation, I believe Porsche is trying to reach out to a bigger audience by allowing the GT3 to be enjoyed by a wider group of enthusiasts. Whether you’re a hardcore racer seeking the fastest track times, an old-school petrolhead that only believes in shifting your own gears, a discreet driver wanting to pass off your GT3 as a regular 911 or someone seeking to dial-in more downforce at the track….there’s something for everyone.”
2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring (Type 992), Oak Green, Jonathan, 45yo
Jon has been through his fair share of sportscars, but this is his first Porsche and we like that he’s made the GT3 Touring his choice of chariot.
He tells us, “The GT3 appeals to me because the GT division has kept it a driving machine – raw and unadulterated. The 911 has gone through so many iterations, yet most seem to get heavier and more luxurious with each generation. The GT3 can happily be driven hard around the track, yet it still possesses enough creature comforts to get by as a daily driver. The GT3 – from the 997 to the 991 and now, the 992 – may have gotten more comfortable and luxurious, but then you fire-up the 4.0-litre engine and you relish how the sound and rumble you feel through its lightweight carbonfibre bucket seats are so mechanical.”
You’d think that the 992 GT3’s huge wing with its distinctive ‘swan-neck’ uprights would be a strong pull, but Jon tells us his love affair with the GT3 started only when Porsche announced the GT3 Touring model. “With the introduction of the ‘GT3 Touring’ in manual (after the PDK-only 991.1 GT3) in the Type 991.2, I was sold and decided to pull the trigger on the 992 GT3 Touring.”
Jon certainly appreciates the purity of Porsche Motorsport’s vision for the 911 GT3. “Other brands often take a popular car model, give it some charging horses and tick the checkboxes to call it a ‘daily’ track car. I’ve tried and owned some of these and most of them seem to have lost some of the focus and driving soul along the way… but not the GT3!”
Although Jon doesn’t rule out the occasional trackday, he’s likely to spend more time driving the GT3 Touring on the roads, both in Singapore and the winding roads in Malaysia.
“If I’d intended on spending more time driving it on track, I would have chosen the non-Touring PDK GT3. All in, Porsche understands there are customers like me who still want the engagement of a GT model, plus the added interaction of a manual gearbox and a third pedal – full driver interaction is what people who love manuals want in a car.”
2022 Porsche 911 GT3 (Type 992), Meissen Blue, Wai Yew, 31yo
Wai Yew was instantly smitten with the 992 GT3’s oversized GT wing and distinctive ‘swan-neck’ uprights. “Jokes aside, I think the entire design of the 992 generation is fantastic!” he tells us. Like Mark and Jon, Wai Yew has gone through his fair share of sportscars, but the 992 GT3 is his first Porsche GT model.
“The first thing that hit me was the sound of the naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre –at 9000rpm, it screams! My previous ride didn’t have such a soundtrack and this makes a huge difference to the driving experience,” Wai Yew tells us.
Wai Yew is a member but hasn’t joined the Porsche Club Singapore for any of its activities yet, but he recently had the opportunity to attack the Sepang Circuit in his GT3, where he had an immensely satisfying experience.
He tells us, “The GT3 is surprisingly easy to drive and gives you that confidence to really go for it! Adjusting the car’s angle-of-attack mid-corner is a breeze and the ride quality in the 992 GT3 is surprisingly supple, yet hasn’t lost that GT-car tautness. The most amazing thing was being able to take a nice drive back to Singapore after the hot and heavy track session without seeing any fault codes or hearing any rattling noises – it is probably the most fuss-free experience I’ve enjoyed recently!”
With the adjustable sports seats (he didn’t option the carbonfibre bucket seats), the daily drives are pliant and comfortable, yet on track, the GT3 transforms into an absolute beast that demands one’s complete attention and focus. What Wai Yew learnt about the GT3 at the Sepang Circuit is that a sportscar doesn’t need to scare you for you to have fun!
With waiting lists stretching years across the different manufacturers for coveted models, there’s a lot of hype around ‘It’ cars like the 911 GT3. We ask Wai Yew what he thinks, given he’s one of the lucky few to have secured an allocation.
“Ever since the pandemic began, hype has been circling around not just sportscars, but other collectible items including watches and pop culture memorabilia. I just hope that more units of the GT3 will end up with people like me, who take an interest in the car for the sake of driving and not use it as a topic of how much value it holds in today’s market! For better or worse, the hype for the GT3 is definitely real and I don’t think it will die down anytime soon!”
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals