Lamborghini isn’t the only one celebrating its Golden Jubilee in 2013, as Porsche’s iconic 911 turns 50 years old too. But instead of marking the occasion in an extravagant and grandiose frolic like its fellow Volkswagen Group stable mate, the German brand has chosen a more purposeful way of merriment, by launching the fifth-generation 911 GT3.
Built on the latest 991-chassis, the new road racer heralds plenty of firsts for Porsche. First up, out goes the much-loved Metzger engine of the old GT3, replaced by a heavily tuned version of the standard Carrera S’ direct fuel injection 3.8 litre flat six engine.
Power is up by 75 hp to 475 hp through the use of new GT3-specific crankshaft, valve gear, titanium connecting rods and forged pistons. The new engine revs up to 9,000 rpm, 500 more than before.
Putting all the available rev to use is the sole transmission choice, a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK gearbox. Yes, the latest track special 911 is no longer available with a manual tranny.
Before you shout out blasphemy, Porsche claims that the PDK has been tuned specifically for the GT3, with shorter ratios and faster shift times. The gearchange algorithm has been tuned to mirror that of Porsche Motorsport racing car’s sequential units.
The changes mark out remarkable performance figures. 0-100 km/h is now done in 3.5 seconds, 200 km/h takes less than 12 seconds and the top speed is now 315 km/h. It laps the Nordschleife faster than the outgoing turbocharged 911 GT2 at less than seven and a half minutes, even coming close to matching the Carrera GT’s seven minutes 28 dead.
Moving to the latest-spec chassis, the GT3 also sees the implementation of the fuel-saving electrically assisted power steering. How that will affect the steering feel is yet to be seen, but thankfully the same system fitted to standard 911s have been rather decent to say the least.
Another Porsche-first is the use of active rear-wheel steering. This turns the two rear wheels into or away from the corner according to speed, aiding stability and agility. The new GT3’s Nordschleife time probably owes a lot to this feature. That and the fully adjustable suspension.
Among the other new driving dynamics features are larger 20-inch wheels, electronically-controlled, fully variable rear differential lock and the now-standard dynamic engine mounts.
As it turns out, the Italians do know how to party, but all seriousness aside, Germans can be just as captivatingly fun too.