We drove a $152,000 Porsche 911 GT3 to see if it's still the greatest sports car of all time — here's the verdict

Benjamin Zhang/Business InsiderOur 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 test car.
  • The Porsche 911 is arguably the most successful sports car in automotive history.
  • The 911 is both a perennial winner on the race track and a hot seller in the showrooms.
  • In 2017, Porsche sold more than 32,000 911s around the world.
  • The 911 GT3 is a road-going track-focused version of Porsche’s flagship sports car.
  • The base Porsche 911 Carrera starts at $US91,100, while the 911 GT3 starts at $US143,600. With a few options and fees, our test car came to a price of $US152,110.
  • We were impressed by the Porsche 911 GT3’s power, driving dynamics, and race-car-like looks.

The Porsche 911 is arguably the most successful sports car in automotive history. In the five decades since its debut in 1962, the 911 has not only been a perennial contender on the track but also a force to be reckoned with in the showroom.

In 2017, Porsche sold more than 32,000 of its flagship sports cars around the world which certainly helped the company achieve a profit margin of 17.6% – a jaw-dropping figure for an industry notorious for its razor-thin margins.

Of the nearly two dozen varieties of the 911 offered for sale in the US, the model that truly brings together the race track and the showroom is the GT3.

The GT3, named after the FIA’s eponymous sports car racing category, debuted as an official 911 variant in 1999 with the introduction of the water-cooled 996 generation Porsche 911. However, US consumers weren’t able to get their hands on the model until 2004.

Business Insider had the chance to spend a few days behind the wheel of a 2018 991.2 generation Porsche 911 GT3 on the roads around the Atlanta, Georgia. The home of Porsche Cars North America.

The base 911 Carrera starts at $US91,100 while the GT3 starts at $US143,600. With options and fees, our car carried an as-tested price of $US152,110. In case you’re curious, the priciest variant of the Porsche 911 is the 700 horsepower GT2 RS which costs $US293,200.

Here’s a closer look at the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3.


Here it is! The 2018 Porsche 911 GT3.

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It’s named after the FIA’s GT3 sports car racing category in which the Porsche 911 competes.

Porsche

As a result, it’s designed to be a sort of 911 race car of the road.

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There’s even a racing series featuring only Porsche 911 GT3.

Porsche

Compared to the standard Porsche 911, like this Carrera 2,…

Hollis Johnson

…The GT3 is more aggressive with pronounced front aero treatments and air intakes.

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In the back, it’s all about that massive rear wing. Most 911 models come with retractable wings, but not the GT3. It’s fixed.

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However, the GT3 can be optioned with the Touring package which allows the buyer to replace the big fixed wing with a retractable unit.

Porsche

Inside, the GT3 shares most of its interior with the rest of the 911 lineup. However, as a track-focused member of the 911 family, the GT3’s black leather and Alcantara-clad interior is geared more towards ease of use at speed than luxury.

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The 911’s interior ergonomics are on point. Its buttons and controls are well placed and easy to access while driving. The driving position is perfect with great visibility of the road.

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The GT3’s seats were comfortable and supportive. Those looking for more “support” can opt for the racing seats.

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While most 911 variants feature four seats, the GT3 is only a two-seater. Fortunately, most people won’t miss the cramped rear seats much. Plus, lack of seats does wonders for the GT3’s cargo capacity.

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The rear seats may be gone, but the 911’s dash-founded cup holders remain.

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The cup holders neatly tuck away into the dash when not in use.

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Tada! Cupholders gone! Even though they are a bit on the flimsy side, most 911 drivers are simply happy to have a cupholder, as they were not even installed on the car for many years.

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In front of the driver is an Alcantara steering wheel.

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Beyond that is a traditional clear and concise gauge cluster. As with every Porsche, the tachometer is front and center.

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Embedded among the analogue gauges is a configurable digital readout which can display everything from the radio station and the trip computer…

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…To a navigation map.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The GT3’s center stack features a seven-inch touchscreen running a version of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system. The version of PCM found on the current 911 is less elaborate than the systems in the new Panamera and Cayenne. However, the 911’s infotainment system is simple, intuitive, and has more than enough feature content to most people happy.

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PCM offers several entertainment options including satellite radio.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

There’s a built-in navigation system that is easy to use and has clearly labelled directions.

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The system offers Apple CarPlay integration.

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Up front, the GT3 is equipped with a 4.4 cubic feet “frunk”.

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That’s down from the standard 911’s 5.1 cubic feet compartment.

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Still, the GT3’s frunk could easily fit a 24-inch suitcase.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

At the very back of the GT3 is the latest version of Porsche’s iconic “boxer” six-cylinder engine. The 4.0 litre, naturally aspirated, water-cooled, boxer six-cylinder engine produces an even 500 horsepower. The GT3 is the only non-turbocharged version of the 911 left in the lineup.

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Check out the giant air intakes for the engine.

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The boxer motor is mated to a slick six-speed manual transmission. A PDK twin-clutch automatic is also available as a cost-free option. The PDK-equipped GT3 is substantially quicker, but the old-school stick shift is just so much more fun.

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According to the Porsche, the manual-equipped GT3 can make the sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds with a top speed of 198 mph. The PDK cars can do 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds with a top speed of 197 mph.

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So, what’s it like to drive?

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Simply sublime.

The Porsche 911 GT3 is the high-performance sports car perfected. It’s got all of the state-of-the-art tech in the world to help you go faster without losing the raw simplicity that made you fall in love with driving it.

On mountain roads north of Atlanta, the GT3 was in its element. Attacking each and every corner with poise and determination. The GT3’s steering was perfectly weighted while its suspension offered bountiful grip without being overly harsh on the occupants.

The big block flat six, free from the shackles of the turbos that muffled its voice, sang sweetly as it worked towards its 9,000 rpm redline.

Even though the PDK cars are quicker, the sweet-shifting six-speed manual was well worth the 0.6-second penalty to 60 mph.


The verdict.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

There are cars and then there’s the Porsche 911.

We’ve had the chance to drive a host of 911 models over the years ranging from the base Carrera to fire-breaking Turbo.

The GT3, for me, represents the Porsche 911 excellence in its purest form. Gone are the frivolities like rear seats and sound insulation.

What remains is a stripped down performance machine that captures the essence of 911 magic.

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