They say you should never meet your childhood heroes, especially when it comes to cars, but ever since laying eyes on Ruf CTR Yellowbird at the ripe old age of 10 I’ve been a diehard Porsche tragic. Being able to share the road with a special 911 like the GT3 was always an exciting moment for me as a child, sticking my head out the window, asking the owner to “rev it up” with a simple hand gesture and hearing the sound produced was always enthralling, but actually driving one myself? That was all but a pipe dream.
Fast forward some decade and a half later and fortunately enough, life presents itself with special opportunities. It was late last year when I first had the chance to jump behind the wheel of this special 911 on track and ever since then it’s been my plan to fulfil my dream and squeeze back into the carbon bucket seats for a couple of days on the road and really meet my childhood hero.
The plan was simple, put 1000KM on the GT3 in just four days driving some of the best roads close to Sydney.
Thursday – Pickup
Distance travelled: 100km
Conditions: Sunny day
Type of road: City with a cruise out to West Head thrown in.
Whether they’ve driven one or not, you speak to anyone about the 911 GT3 and they have the same remark “this is the best daily driving experience money can buy” but after a few laps of the track I wasn’t so sure. I’ve driven plenty of very fast track-capable vehicles on the road and the GT3 felt like it was taking things one step too far, at least in my short stints through the back lanes of Sydney Motorsport Park between sessions. A few thoughts came to mind, including;
- “Is this new 911 GT3 too track-focused?”
- “Is the double-wishbone front end too ‘busy’ for a road car?”
- “How aggressive is the ‘daily driver’ tradeoff for sound and engagement?”
It was my plan to flesh these thoughts out and with just four days and 1000KM to travel in Porsches latest road-going race car, the timer was on.
One look at the new GT3 and you know this vehicle means business. The front air dams are large, the new swan neck wing is larger, and the wheels are centre-lock variants just like a racecar. The 500HP 4.0-litre naturally aspirated engine is undoubtedly what makes this car special, but it goes far beyond the 9000rpm redline and power figures. Turning the key and feeling the entire rotating assembly of the vehicle come to life vibrates your seat and sets an intoxicating tone for the GT3 experience.
Open the sports exhaust valves during cold start and you’re met by a lumpy racecar-like sound that never gets old (although, your neighbours would say otherwise). Wouldn’t it be nice if there wasn’t a ‘soft limiter’ on free-rev?!
There are certain cars you get behind the wheel of and you can tell they’re going to be special from the jump. Not necessarily for their speed, sound, or steering but their character and the GT3 oozes this feeling. Driving home through the streets of Sydney is more than a pleasant experience. There are no loud squeaks from the roll-cage, dashboard, or seats – even after seeing plenty of track time – and the interior feels solid as it should on a nearly $500,000 AUD road car. A LOT of stones get thrown up from the sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires but that’s all part of the racecar experience.
Friday – Putty Road
Distance travelled: 343km+
Conditions: Sunny day
Type of road: Mixture of country roads with 15-mins of the best driving in the state.
After familiarising myself with the car again, Friday was set to be my longest day. Packing the front trunk with camera gear it was surprisingly roomy – although you’d struggle to pack a suitcase – and the roll-cage does a great job of doubling as a GoPro mount. You couldn’t go away for much more than a day, but you wouldn’t, would you? I started the 1.5-hour drive towards the start of the Putty Road at Wilberforce.
Is the New GT3 Still a Great Spirited Road car?
The Putty Road is a mixture of fast sweepers and tight turns with a return route on the M1 Motorway via the Hunter Valley wine region meaning more than an hour of Freeway cruising. If there’s a perfect way to spend a day in a road car at any price point this was it.
Often referred to as ’15-mins of bliss’ the section (above) is what everyone drives here for. It’s a special piece of tarmac riddled with tricky hairpins, fast ‘on-camber’ sweepers, elevation change and short straightaways. There’s little room for error with sandstone on one side and a double Armco barrier, however, the resonance from the exhaust bouncing off everything around you is simply intoxicating. This is why I came here to drive the GT3.
The front end remains busy at road speeds of 60km/h (although surprisingly compliant) but comes alive when pushing the car through on camber switchbacks. You won’t find an electric steering rack that responds with accuracy and poise during both street and track applications like the GT3. You feel every inch of tire connected through the wheel and the sensation of the vehicle shifting weight through the wide rear end yet remaining light and playful upfront is unique to rear-engined machines like this. Focus is put on carving out the perfect turn.
Make no mistake, you could go absolutely bonkers quick through some sections in this car, but there remains enjoyment below ten-tenths and that’s what makes the GT3 a great spirited road car.
Saturday – Bells Line of Road
Distance travelled: 208km+
Type of road: Motorway and mountain (scenic).
Long motorway cruises and a bit of rain was never going to stop me racking up a few hundred KMs on Saturday. My afternoon finished at Bilpin where I grabbed a pie and sausage roll at The Grumpy Baker and took this photo in front of the vintage Ampol servo. This spot is usually melting with motorcycles riders but on this overcast rainy day, it was simply tourists and this eye-catching bright blue Porsche.
Carbon Bucket seats, minimal sound deadening, air intakes that feed noise directly into the cabin, a rear-engine layout, tougher mounts all around, wide sticky cup tires, and a bloody roll cage hardly scream ‘motorway cruiser’ but I did it anyway…
How Does it Drive Every Day?
I was recently converted to EV life after jumping behind the wheel of the Porsche Taycan Turbo last year. And unfortunately, every car since has been subject to the “how does this ride compare to the Taycan test” when it comes to everyday driving. Regardless, I’ll do my best to give the benefit of the doubt to the GT3 on this occasion for all the reasons listed above.
The first step is to understand that the idea of comfort is seldom appreciated when driving a car like the GT3. It’s not every day you can sit inside a street-legal track car with a full interior and Apple Carplay, but it’s not without a little compromise. You have to be some kind of twisted petrolhead (like me) to really appreciate a vehicle like this because you’ll step out of the GT3 feeling quite exhausted (pardon the pun).
Take the bucket seats, for example. Our car was fitted with the $11,250 full carbon bucket seats which are awesome on the track, but pretty awful for the street. Awkward at the best of times, the combination of racing harnesses, scaffolding in the rear and bucket seats exacerbate the GT3 effect. Moving a harness out of the way just to get in is a gentle reminder this isn’t your everyday sports car – it’s about as close to a track legal road car you can get from Porsche – and you better appreciate it as such.
The second step is to carefully consider the spec of your GT3 if you plan to drive the car often. As with any Porsche, you can spec a GT3 in any which way you like, but there’s a ‘Touring’ option available for a reason and while we’re yet to get behind the wheel of that particular model, I can see why it’s popular. Our car was optioned to the moon with features such as BOSE Surround Sound ($2970 AUD) to bring it closer to a ‘normal’ road going experience as you’d have in something like a 911 GTS but I wouldn’t even bother. I’d opt for the 18-way adaptive sports seats and all the creature comforts on offer for street duties. The lower back and arse pain are prevalent without adjustable lumbar support and the minimal cushion is a bit of a deal-breaker for cross country tours or rallies.
The third and final step is more a realisation than a step. I hopped behind the wheel of the GT3 expecting it to be a pretty serious daily drive (especially in this spec) and it certainly was. As much as I’d love to imagine the GT3 as the ‘perfect daily’ it only takes a few hundred KMs to realise the GT3 is best kept as a special occasion car or weekender in the garage next to a Macan Turbo or Taycan Cross Turismo – its market value would keep it there regardless. Disappointing? Not at all. It just means every time you jump behind the wheel, it will be just as special as the last (minus the arse pain).
Sunday – Cars and Coffee
Distance travelled: 60km+
Type of road: City streets
To any petrolhead living in Sydney, Sunday morning is cars and coffee morning, and finding an event is about as easy as finding your local Maccas. Our local – Machines and Macchiatos – is based on the Northern Beaches and offers a great mixture of cars, people, good coffee and plenty of food.
What better car to bring to cars and coffee than a brand spanking new 992 GT3? And the reception was, as expected, strong. Just ask the McLaren 675LT owner how many eyeballs were stolen that morning.
After Three Straight Days, Do I Still Want to Jump Behind the Wheel?
I took a long hard look at those carbon bucket seats at 6:30 am Sunday morning. After hundreds of KMs, my body said no but how could you really resist? The GT3 is the perfect Sunday driver after all and a fresh coffee alongside the smell of petrol V8s and rotaries is always a great pick me up.
It’s safe to say I’d tickled the flat foot itch by now, so cruising around the streets of Sydney’s Northern Beaches was a chance to reflect on my time with the GT3. Was the edge to edge grin still there after 3-days? Of course, it was. While the road going nature of the new GT3 is far from your everyday sports car, this is so much more than “your everyday sportscar” it really sits in a category of its own.
At almost half a million bucks it’s a pretty price to pay (they’re sold out anyway) but you’re getting Supercar performance, road-going theatre, and the most engaging driving experience you can have at any price point.
I (alongside pretty much every auto journo on earth) preaches that Porsche has the best road dynamics of any automaker and the 992 GT3 is that experience on steroids. You’re getting the best engine, chassis, handling, and steering feel of any road car I’ve driven. My recommendation? Leave the ‘street-cred’ adders alone; scaffolding, bucket seats, and harnesses. Opt for all the creature comforts you can get, then relax, pose for the camera, take it out on the weekend and smile every time knowing you bought the right car.