Look past the existential crisis that is the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 and you’ll find a machine that perfectly embodies what it means to leave the bean counters out of the development process.
This is unadulterated enthusiast engineering at its finest – a car that doesn’t need to exist, but the world’s an entirely better place because it does. Porsche has done its part for the common good with the all-electric Taycan that no doubt signals what’s to come for this brand and beyond, and the GT3 is the reward.
Driving Feel: 10/10
So about that existential crisis. This is undoubtedly incredible to drive; a precise machine that has all the right stuff and makes all the right noises to carry on the GT3 legacy. But it also begs the question: is this a race car for the road, or a street car for the track?
By most accounts, it’s the former – a circuit-bred beast that happens to have the requisite parts to be driven legally in public settings. That’s exactly how it comes together, with the chassis feeling light and tight, and the stern-mounted flat-six providing the proverbial push only a Porsche 911 can.
There’s a seriousness to the GT3 that isn’t found in other 911 models. Oh, it was built for fun – there’s no denying that. But it goes about its business with a solemn focus. The steering and suspension have been developed not with comfort in mind but rather to counter any twitch, pitch, or lean that could rob you of anything close to an iota of performance or add even a millisecond to your lap times.
Up front is a double-wishbone suspension taken straight from Porsche’s motorsports programs and used in one of its road cars for the first time. With this tester’s suspension tweaked for track duty, the 911 GT3 darts around like a firefly in the night sky, responding to steering inputs with a rare kind of quickness.
This car may be born German, but you’ll be speaking the same language the moment you slip into the optional carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic bucket seats ($6,740) that are so supremely comfortable despite their fixed shape; or when you spot the massive spoiler in the rearview mirror, its so-called swan-neck mounting that has it suspended from its brackets rather than bolted atop them.
The weighty steering is thoroughly modern and yet it’s so communicative that it feels like it could easily be mistaken for something from a bygone era. The optional carbon-ceramic brakes ($10,510) require a heavy foot outside of the track, but every ounce of the GT3’s weight is tangible as it transfers front to back and side to side. Yes, it feels like a race car. It sounds like one, too.
With its flat-six stuck where such an engine should be, the shoving sensation this car provides is the very essence of the Porsche 911. Even the GT3’s stiff suspension is no match for this rear-mounted motor, the dampers hunkering down under the force of all the horizontally opposed fury it’s happy to unleash.
With respect to forced induction found elsewhere in the 911 lineup, this naturally aspirated number is among the most wonderful auditory joys money can buy. The metallic twang that accompanies winding this 4.0L out to its 9,000-rpm redline is a mechanical masterpiece you’ll want to listen to on repeat.
Paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the rush of torque cascades towards its 346 lb-ft peak as the gearbox snaps off shifts too quick to even consider whether you’d rather have three pedals and a manual shifter instead (such a setup is offered as a no-charge option in the GT3). Whether employing the paddles on the steering wheel or letting the transmission execute its own course of action matters little; this powertrain is smooth, sultry, and satisfying.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
It’s not especially efficient, but not much like this is. A three-day test spanning some 315 km saw an average consumption rate of 13.9 L/100 km, though no time was spent on the track, which undoubtedly would’ve seen that figure grow substantially. As a point of reference, a week-long test of the 911 Turbo S returned an average of 15.2 L/100 km over the course of 500 km.
Safety is another one of this car’s sticking points. Of course, it’s fitted with airbags galore; and there’s traction and stability management systems. But advanced safety items aren’t what the 911 GT3 is for, so there aren’t any. Rear parking sensors can be added to go with a back-up camera, as can a traffic sign recognition system, but there’s no lane-keeping or adaptive cruise control offered here.
Given the track-ready focus of this car, it’s surprisingly comfortable and compliant on the road. Suspension damping is firm and the cabin isn’t especially well insulated from outside noise, and yet it’s barely more punishing to drive than the average Porsche sports car. A cross-country cruiser this is not, but it’s compliant enough to keep you from getting too well acquainted with your chiropractor.
There are no heat or ventilation settings for the seats – that goes for either version of adjustable chairs offered, as well as the spectacular carbon buckets – nor is there a heated steering wheel, but the climate control system is of the dual-zone automatic variety and works quickly to heat or cool the cabin as required. A touchscreen infotainment system adorns the dash, and it boasts wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto connectivity, while a digital instrument cluster houses all manner of information.
User Friendliness: 10/10
Far more importantly, the relatively limited feature set that’s present here is supremely easy to operate. Drive mode is adjusted via the steering wheel dial or head unit – there’s normal, sport, and track settings to choose from – while the dampers and electronic stability and traction controls can be played with via toggles beneath the touchscreen.
That’s also where the toggle for the optional front-axle lift system ($4,180) is found, which is a handy way to prevent scuffs and scrapes when entering parking lots and driveways. It also features a GPS-based memory setting that can store locations and automatically raise the nose without driver intervention.
Practicality isn’t exactly an objective term – not when it’s in reference to six-figure sports cars. The GT3 is somewhat stiff and noisy, comes fitted with just two seats, and has awful outward visibility through the back window thanks to that downforce-inducing spoiler. But all that stuff makes it perfectly sensible from a performance perspective. The same is true of the optional 90-L extended-range fuel tank ($260) fitted to this test car that’s nearly 50 per cent larger than stock.
If there was a complaint to be lodged here it would be about the complications caused by the bucket seats in this particular 911. Since they’re moulded and feature tall bolstering, there’s a certain elegance required to climb into and out of them gracefully – an elegance your humble (and somewhat hulking) author lacks.
The counterpoint to that grievance over the upgraded seats isn’t just that they’re incredibly comfortable, but that they’re lightweight and look the part of the race car this 911 GT3 is. All the exposed carbon fibre and aluminum rails they ride on are the perfect complement to the go-fast theme, as is the extensive use of suede inside, not to mention the carbon-fibre accents ($1,820) and colour-matched seatbelts ($410). It’s like if Giorgio Armani designed a racing suit just for you.
Outside, this Shark Blue paint ($4,820) is as eye-catching as it gets, while the suspended rear spoiler comes to you from Porsche’s motorsport gurus. Add in the yellow brake calipers that come with the carbon-ceramics, and the matching blue stripes on the black wheels ($2,220) and in the upgraded headlights ($1,850), and this GT3 is simply stunning.
If the race-car look isn’t to your tastes, the 911 GT3 can be had with a Touring package that ditches the rear spoiler for the same price. That means paying $180,300 before fees and taxes for either version. The Turbo S hits like a hammer for $55,300 more, while the Carrera can be had for $65,300 less. But then neither delivers the same kind of distilled, driver-first excitement as this.
What’s so fascinating about the Porsche 911 isn’t simply that it’s brimming with personality, though it’s certainly that, but that its identity varies so drastically. The latest Turbo S version might well be the best car your author has ever driven. It’s also a full-blown supercar, and feels totally different from this new GT3 or anything else in the lineup.
The 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 doesn’t quite have the duality as its range-topping sibling, but that’s by design. It’s more race car than road car – that much is obvious in just about every way imaginable. Yet it’s nearly as usable off the track as a Turbo S or any other of the umpteen 911 models on the market. It’s precise and pure, and conveys everything that’s happening to the person lucky enough to be behind the wheel. It’s what happens when passionate people are allowed to do what they do best.
|Peak Horsepower||502 hp @ 8,400 rpm|
|Peak Torque||346 lb-ft @ 6,100 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||NRCan figures not available; 13.9 L/100 km observed|
|Cargo Space||132 L|
|Model Tested||2022 Porsche 911 GT3|
|Price as Tested||$222,440|
$40,540 – Carbon-Ceramic Brakes, $10,510; Shark Blue Decorative Stitching, $7,100; Full Bucket Seats, $6,740; Shark Blue Paint, $4,820; Front-Axle Lift System, $4,180; Satin Black Painted Wheels w/Shark Blue Border Ring, $2,220; LED Dynamic Headlights w/Shark Blue Accent Ring, $1,850; High-Gloss Carbon Fibre Interior Package, $1,820; Chrono Package w/Preparation Lap Trigger, $630; Shark Blue Seatbelts, $410; Extended-Range Fuel Tank, $260