2014 Porsche 911 GT3 Review

Put to the (street) test

2014 Porsche 911 GT3 Review

A street legal race car, it goes without saying that the Porsche GT3 can deliver the true motorsports experience when it comes to both outright performance and feel behind the wheel. But as it is street legal, what’s it really like for daily use?

FAST FACTS

Engine: 3.8L Flat-6 with 475 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque. Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto. 0-60 MPH: 3.3 seconds. Top speed: 195 mph. Price: $131,395.

The premise for this article is one forced upon us by Porsche. We’d rather be flinging it around a circuit, especially as we’ve got a feeling it could top the Audi R8 V10 Plus and set the new fastest lap at the AutoGuide Test Track.

Sadly, we may never know.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus Smased AutoGude Test Track Lap Record

For Everyday Use?

What we do know is that it is in fact very livable. Compared to a car like the Nissan GT-R the suspension feels as soft as an S-Class.

The simple seats (with a power adjustable back but manual seat bottom) are comfortable and it’s pretty easy to see out of – with the exception of the view out back as the massive rear spoiler blocks most of that.

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Don’t look for fancy options inside. Porsche’s center console, which is normally littered with buttons is instead a collection of blank pieces of plastic with just a handful of things (maybe fewer) to press. There are, however, modern necessities like navigation and Bluetooth.

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For day-to-day use the single biggest addition that makes the new GT3 so much more useable is the one feature that caused the biggest stir when it came out: the automatic transmission. A seven-speed dual-clutch unit it makes the car faster on a racetrack, but also vastly more livable. You can pull the paddles yourself or just leave it in automatic mode. There’s no fiddling with a clutch pedal or rowing your own gears like you’re some sort of 20th century Neanderthal.

Even if you’ve got a Porsche-sized bank account, if you’re putting regular miles on a GT3, fuel economy is still of some concern so it’s nice to know the car is roughly 25 percent more fuel efficient. And for daily use, there’s a frunk capable of holding a few bags of groceries plus the back seat area (there are no actual back seats) makes for added cargo room.

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So, yes, you can in fact drive a GT3 to your local big box. But that’s sort of like taking a stripper out on a date and going to church.

Its Best Feature Is. . .

Thankfully the GT3’s best feature can still be experienced on the road, though you’ll only get a taste of its capabilities if you’re keeping it legal.

Put your foot down just a little and the impressive responsiveness of the 3.8-liter flat-six is immediately obvious. It doesn’t feel overly powerful at first, but wait until the tach reaches 6,000 RPM and it’s just spectacular.

The GT3 is a car that needs to have its legs stretched. And when you do it’s fantastic! It sounds glorious and it feels even better.

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Of course the entire rest of the car is dialed in, from the immediate and communicative steering to the stiff chassis and the outrageous braking potential; but the engine remains the GT3’s best attribute.

For a car of this performance level, the engine is small, but it makes up for it with amazing engineering, generating 475 hp at 8250 RPM and impressive 125 hp per liter.

It will hit 60 MPH in just 3.3 seconds, which is amazing for a car that’s not all-wheel drive. Sure it doesn’t break the 200 MPH top speed number, but that’s irrelevant, and not just because you’ll never do it, but because Porsche made it this way on purpose, using shorter gears to maximize acceleration.

Knowing that pretty soon every car will use turbochargers as a quick fix to create power while hitting fuel economy targets, the intoxicating feeling of this naturally aspirated engine will makes us want to steal this car right now and never give it back.

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It’s like if you just found out that soon vanilla ice cream was going to be the only flavor available. Were that to happen, you’d go and buy every tub of chocolate you could stockpile and every day you saw someone eating vanilla you’d go back home and crack open a tub of chocolate and think to yourself, “yea, vanilla ice cream is good, but these guys just have no idea what they’re missing.”

What Makes The 991 GT3 Special?

It wouldn’t be hard to geek out on the GT3’s technology for 10,000 words, talking about everything from the electronic rear differential to the dynamic engine mounts, but we’ll spare you that.

There are, however, two features we have to mention. First is the active steering. Below 31 MPH the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front ones, making the car rotate more quickly. So it’s more nimble and even has a great turning radius.

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Pick up the speed to over 51 mph and the rear wheels turn with the front ones, to deliver better stability.

Back when we tested the 911 Turbo it was that car’s rear axle steering that made it so grippy on the track. Applied to this rear-wheel drive package and the GT3 is no longer the tail happy machine it once was and delivers tons of driver confidence.

The second feature of note is the dual-clutch gearbox and a few extra tricks Porsche has engineered into it.

The new PDK unit, unlike past versions, can be put into Neutral by simply grabbing both paddles. This serves numerous functions.

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First, it can steady a car that’s understeering in a corner, as opposed to adding brake and making the situation worse. Second, it allows you to induce oversteer by immediately engaging the drive wheels and cause the car to rotate around suddenly. It also makes for serious donuts.

On top of all that, the updated dual-clutch transmission actually shifts faster than the version in the other 911s, with shockingly fast and crisp gear changes regardless of how vigorously the car is being driven.

2014 Porsche 911 GT3 Review: The Verdict

It’s really not as daily drivable as a 911 Turbo, but you already new that. It’s its raw-ness that makes the GT3 special, and automatic transmission or not, this thing is incredibly raw.

Better yet, it costs $50,000 less than a 911 Turbo S, it’s got twice the cachet and when you hear and feel that flat-six pull to redline you know that the GT3 isn’t just a Porsche, but THE Porsche.

  • Michel Starker

    Sorry, I NEED the clutch pedal and gear shifter for physical conditioning reasons…