In Depth

Porsche 911 GT3 2017: Critics hail 'visceral' supercar

Not much comes close to the 'astonishing' and 'tremendous' supercar, say critics

Second generation track-focused 911 features an all-new flat-six engine and a manual gearbox 

Porsche fans will be pleased to hear that the company will offer a manual gearbox option on its new 911 GT3, which has made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show

It's the second generation version of the 991 model, which has been kitted out with a host of new features that aims to put the driver at the centre of the historic supercar.

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Along with a substantial redesign that sharpens the rounded edges of the previous model and generates more downforce, Porsche has fitted the GT3 facelift with an all-new naturally aspirated engine that revs to a screaming 9,000rpm. 

The supercar is due to hit the showrooms this summer, but buyers will need to get their pre-orders in fast as the value of GT3s often rises immediately after launch. 

Here's everything you need to know:

 Design

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Manufacturers rarely overhaul the design of their cars when they introduce a mid-life facelift for the model, but Porsche has brought a raft of styling tweaks to its second generation 911 GT3.

Gone are the thick daytime lights above the brake cooling ducts on the front bumpers. These have been replaced with a much thinner design that reflects the current range of Carrera, Boxster and Cayman

Other tweaks include a sharper rear bumper design and two-piece wing mirrors. The carbon fibre rear wing has also been raised to generate more downforce, while the updated diffuser now contributes to the car's aerodynamic efficiency. 

Performance

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A manual gearbox option will be well received by fans of the iconic supercar, as Porsche's decision to remove the analogue transmission from the previous model was widely criticised for taking the driver away from the experience. 

Surprisingly, the German car giant has fitted an all-new 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six engine that revs to an incredible 9,000rpm, instead of fitting the supercar with more economical turbocharged units from the second generation 991 Carrera. It produces 493bhp and 347lb ft of torque, says Evo, which is 25bhp and 23lb-ft more than the outgoing model. 

Top Gear reports that the new GT3 rides an inch lower than a regular Carrera S and retains its predecessor's four-wheel steering system. The supercar also has "dynamic engine mounts" and a slip differential on the rear axle. 

The GT3 has undergone serious weight-saving to counter the "structural reinforcement", says Autocar. "Reduced soundproofing", along with other minor weight-shaving adjustments, means it has a 3,153lbs kerb weight.

Buyers can save more weight by opting for the manual gearbox, which drops a further 22lbs, adds the magazine. Carbon ceramic brakes are also lighter than the standard fit, although this is often a pricey option on Porsches and are usually more effective on a circuit than on the road.

Interior

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Porsche has upped the standard equipment in the second generation GT3, says AutoExpress, including the company's "Communication Management infotainment system" with sat nav. The system also comes with wi-fi connectivity and the company's "Track Precision data-logging app". 

The regular 911 steering wheel has been axed and replaced with the Porsche 918 Spider hypercar's wheel, adds the magazine. New sports seats, similar in design to those in the 911 GT3 RS, are also bundled in as standard.

Reviews

Top Gear says the updated GT3 with dual-clutch gearbox fitted is "stunning", its "instant response" transmission allowing drivers to easily get "the best out of the engine".

Porsche's decision not to turbocharge the 4.0-litre flat-six engine will please purists as the "tremendous" motor "enters a world beyond the realm of turbos" when it surpasses 7,000rpm.

Indeed, the racing-derived engine is a pleasant surprise "where almost all performance cars have relatively low-revving, slow-responding engines that are aurally rarely better than pleasant", says the Daily Telegraph

It could be argued that the 911 GT3 is so track-focused that a cheaper 911 GTS with more equipment might be a better everyday option, adds the newspaper.

The GT3 "suffers from considerable engine and tyre noise at a constant cruise", while the GTS is "among the most refined 911s there has been".

Nevertheless, the GT3 has "astonishing" front-end grip compared to any car on the market, says Evo, and constantly encourages the driver to push it to its very limits.

"It doesn’t matter how much you’ve got to spend," says the magazine. There's not much else on the market that can come close to the performance of Porsche's latest 911 GT3.

GT3 manual review

The GT3'S new manual option "takes everything that is great about the auto and throws an extra dose of engagement into the mix", says AutoExpress. While the PDK may be faster over a lap, the "six-speed GT3 is the best 911 on sale today", adds the mag. Drivers may lose half a second on the zero to 62mph time, but they will be "having too much fun to care".

It concludes that the GT3 is known for its "visceral" and "engaging" experience and that is "no different" in the manual car. 

Stripping away much of the car's sound deadening to combat the extra weight from its engine makes the GT3 "prone to tyre noise", says Autocar

Nevertheless, this is "more often than not drowned out by the wonderful bass-driven intensity of the exhaust" - a "true highlight" of any journey.  

Manual cars will appeal to buyers looking for the "emotional appeal" of 911 ownership, it adds, but those wanting the fastest GT3 available should stay with the PDK. 

Prices and release

There's no official production cap for the GT3, says PistonHeads, but customers should expect "demand to comfortably exceed supply" due to the car's appeal. 

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