Saturday, March 04, 2006

Geneva 2006: Porsche 911 GT3 - No Turbo? No Problem

So, you've got money. You love Porsches. But you want a more hardcore experience than the 911 Turbo you just bought. It's a fine GT car and all--perhaps the best in the world-- but for all its amazing power and technical wizardry, you're left wanting.

You want to be more involved in the driving experience. You need something more visceral.

No worries. This week, at Geneva, Porsche unveiled the vehicle to address that exact need.

911 GT3

The 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 is the most powerful non-turbo 911 ever. It is the basis from which the world-beating 911 GT3 RSR racecar is derived. Powered by a normally aspirated 3.6 liter flat-six, the GT3 makes 413 horsepower at 7,600 RPM. It revs all the way up to 8,400 RPM.

Power is sent to the rear wheels (no AWD on this one) via a short-throw six-speed manual transmission. gear ratios from 2nd through 6th gear are shortened for the GT3, and shift light on the tachometer helps notify the driver when it's the optimal time to upshift--a nice racing touch.

All this translates to a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 193 MPH. That's just .4 seconds slower to 60 than the more powerful 911 Turbo. the top speed is identical.

The 911 GT3 is not devoid of technical features by any stretch. Unlike its predecessors, the '07 model is equipped with Porsche's Active Suspension Management system (PASM). Two settings are available to the driver. The standard one mimics the suspension configuration of the old GT3, and offers a balanced feel that is perfect for street driving, where road conditions can vary. PASM also allows the driver to switch the suspension to Sport mode, which modifies the settings to be more appropriate for the demands of track use. Porsche says it's like having two suspensions in one. What fantastic technology.

In addition to the active suspension, the 911 GT3 is also equipped with electronic traction control that makes the car more usable in everyday driving. If you desire, that system can be disabled altogether as well. In short, with the push of a few buttons, the 911 GT3 driver can transform it from a perfectly usable road car to a much more extreme track vehicle. Weekend racers can drive to the track in total comfort, and then transform it into a monster that shreds the competion--all without ever getting out of the thing. Braking duties are handled by large disc units mounted inside of the car's lightweight GT3-specific 19' wheels.

Appearance-wise, the GT3 may be the best-looking 911 variant. Aerodynamic considerations dictate the design features that set it apart from the rest of the 911 range. The front fascia has sculpted inlets that feed air to the car's radiator. In addition, there is a vent ahead of the cars front trunklid from which air that has passed through the central radiator (the car has two) is expelled and directed over the car.

In back, the most obvious aerodynamic element is the dual-plane spoiler. The lower portion is fixed, with a rubber trailing edge that generates generates additional downforce. The top section can be adjusted. The car's overall rear appearance is tied up nicely by the double-barrel center-mounted exhaust.

All of this can be yours for $106,000. Not a bad price for a racing car you can drive to and from work in air conditioned comfort. Yes, you can have the best of both worlds.

2007 Porsche 911 GT3
Web: Official Minisite, Geneva Gallery
Engine: 3.6L flat six
Power: 413 hp @ 7,600 rpm
Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm
0-60: 4.1 sec
Top Speed: 193 mph
Base Price: $106,000

Previous Generation (Type 996) 911 GT3: Photo, Website

All photos courtesy of Porsche Cars North America.