First Drive Review: 2010 Porsche 911 GT3
This 2010 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2011.
By Csaba Csere of Car and Driver
To many people, the Porsche 911 Carrera is the definitive sports car, but in the 911 family, the top jock is the GT3. The current 997 family of 911s has been undergoing a major round of updates, and now it's the GT3's turn.
No Replacement for Displacement
Oddly, the new engine does not get the direct fuel injection that is rapidly spreading through the rest of the Porsche lineup, mostly because the GT3 engine is a race-derived unit that remains distinct from the mainstream models. Unlike the Carrera and Boxster engines, the GT3's has a proper dry-sump lubrication system with a remote oil tank and seven oil pumps. It also uses titanium connecting rods and is constructed with cylinder blocks that are separate from the crankcase halves. This engine is extremely robust and develops substantially more power in racing applications, revving to over 9000 rpm with standard components.
Grip Increases, Too
A revised suspension makes the most of this additional force pressing the tires into the pavement. Front spring rates are stiffer by 12 percent, and the anti-roll bar drops from 1.1 inches in diameter to 1.0. In the rear, the anti-roll bar increases from 0.9 inch to 1.0. The PASM adjustable shock absorbers have been completely recalibrated, and the suspension pickup points have changed, thanks to new hubs. These hubs now accommodate center-lock wheels, employing the same large nuts introduced on the Carrera GT. This design makes for a lighter wheel, saving a total of 6.6 pounds. But with only one nut holding each wheel in place, the tightening torque is a massive 331 lb-ft. You can apply this by being really strong, using a very large torque wrench, or springing $400 for a trick socket that incorporates a small planetary gearbox to multiply the torque from a normal-size wrench. Nobody ever said Porsche speed was cheap.
Focused On Control
One innovative new option is PADM, which stands for Porsche Active Drivetrain Mounts. These are hydraulic engine mounts using magnetorheological fluid so their stiffness can be varied according to a programmed map. At high revs they get stiffer to provide a more precise feel by reducing the relative motion between the powertrain and body. Another new option is a front-axle lifting feature, which raises the car's front end by 1.2 inches when you press a button on the dash. This should help you avoid shredding the effective new front splitter at that local service station with the clifflike ramp.
Functional, but Built to Run
Although not a hugely torquey engine — the peak of 317 lb-ft doesn't arrive until 6250 rpm — the GT3 still delivers healthy midrange power, and you can putter around town in the 2000-rpm range to avoid disturbing sleepy locals. Flip the sport switch on the dash, and valves in the exhaust system will bypass the primary mufflers at about 3000 rpm to add nearly 30 lb-ft of torque at full throttle, but the resulting exhaust rap will draw undesirable attention within most municipalities. Better to wait until you leave the city limits and let the exhaust go into its unrestricted mode at 4500 rpm as you hurtle toward the engine's 8500-rpm redline, the thrust against your back getting stronger with every additional rev. As the engine spins beyond 6000 rpm, the combination of fierce acceleration, strident intake and exhaust sounds, and increasing tire noise will totally rivet your attention.
The GT3 lunges forward through the gears until you shift into fifth at 145 mph. From then on, the acceleration moderates, although your adrenal glands will remain stimulated by the slower vehicles that seem to be suddenly standing still, even though they're moving at autobahn speeds. Traffic prevented us from exceeding 175 mph, but the GT3 feels comfortable at such a pace, even on a hilly and curving autobahn. It feels 911-like in the sense that the car moves around a bit, without ever threatening to lose control. You have to accept that it doesn't have a locked-in-a-straight-line character and simply let it move a bit. Despite the handling-oriented suspension calibration, the GT3 is not at all harsh on German roads, and the body motions are surprisingly supple. Press the Porsche Active Suspension Management button to shift the shocks onto the sport program, and the body motions tighten considerably at the expense of much jerkier ride motions. This setting is best reserved for racetracks or the smoothest of roads.
The Rewards of a Racing Pedigree
With its additional power, this latest model should be able to accelerate to 60 mph a tick or two quicker than the 3.8 seconds we measured on the last GT3 we tested — especially since the adjustable motor mounts will tighten up during launch to minimize the 911's tendency to wheel-hop during a hard clutch drop. The quarter-mile should also be a bit better than before, with an ET in the high elevens at perhaps 120 mph. The stopping distance from 70 mph is usually limited by tire traction, so the new model's larger front brakes probably won't help much in this test, but the previous car's 145-foot stop was already one of the best we've ever measured.
Those bigger brakes will definitely pay off at the track, though, where some 70 percent of GT3 buyers take their cars, according to Porsche. In fact, some buyers never even register their GT3s, using them exclusively at racing circuits. Still, the car is definitely streetable, with an acceptable ride and moderate noise levels, as long as you stay below 120 mph. Although the GT3 doesn't have a back seat, there is decent luggage room in front and useful space in the back, so the car does provide ample utility for street use.
Pricey but Worth It
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