The GT3 Experience

 

God!  This car is scary!  However, after getting over the first two days of white knuckle driving I am starting to get to know it.  Still, I have not found its limits and I am approaching it very slowly.  Why?  Because it will bite you!  My first try at an on-ramp quickly unhooked the rear tires.  My 993 would hunker down and go when the pedal was mashed.  The GT3 requires finesse when applying throttle or at least some forethought.   With 381 horsepower on tap you have more than enough to break free those sticky 11.6Ó wide Michelin tires and still arrive at the party much quicker than the 993.   Where the 993 feels quick, the GT3 feels almost brutal as it eats up time and space.  However, thatÕs what you bought it for, right?  There is lots of torque and it just keeps coming as you approach the redline of 8200 RPM.  The scream from the rear of the car just encourages you to keep your foot planted until you shift for the next gear or hit the rev limiter wall, then you want to do it again and again, and again.


Incidentally, the top speed is rated at 190 MPH!  My first run to the rev limited was in second gear up an on ramp on I95.  As the tach approached its limit I turned my gaze to the speedometer and saw 84 MPH!   First gear can get you to nearly 50 MPH thanks to the extended rev limiter.


In stop and go traffic the torque is abundant enough to effortlessly poke along stoplight to stoplight.  Get a stretch of road that is open and the car lights up propelling you down the road at near relativistic speeds.  Your sense of time and space are warped.  Whatever speed you think you are going; you are going faster, much faster.  And it just doesnÕt seem to end.  Porsche posts a 0 to 100 MPH time 9.4 seconds, but that doesnÕt explain reality for this car.  There is so much more about the car that, when mixed together, it outperforms the sum of its parts.  Porsche got the combination right and this is why people that own one love it and those that donÕt either want one or at the least respect it.


Side-by-side the 993 and 996 are close cousins, but the 993 has some curves usually exclusive to 18 year old female athletes.  The hips are just not there on the 996, whereas the rear view of the 993 stirs primal forces in the primitive brain of man.  However, the 996 does have some pleasing lines of its own.  They are just different.  The front fenders and hood flow well together to generate a smooth and pleasing look to the car.  Everything fits together very well.  Even inside the lines seem to flow from point to point in a logical and sensual way.  It isnÕt a 911 from the classic era, but everything works esthetically.   Even the door handles are different, but grab the inside arches with your hand and it feels like it has a titanium core.  There just isnÕt the flex that the 993 had.  The door panels look a little strange, but they feel like a rock.


The front clip has an extra plastic lip that is held in by plastic rivets and projects forward by about an inch.  Incidentally, some of those rivets were missing on mine and I prudently ordered extras.  They cost 28 cents each, so I advise you to buy many of them because nothing else on a Porsche will cost so little as these babies.  The front lip sits very low.  It is almost low enough to scrape bubble gum off of a parking lot.  My town is full of driveways and entrances that have a rather steep entry angle.  Avoiding contact requires superior piloting.  You quickly master the art of attacking these at an oblique angle and keeping the speed down.  This can be somewhat limiting when trying to exit onto a road with traffic and requires a little more time to get going, so plan your exits carefully or you will be moaning to yourself.  It will also try the patience of other motorists.


Finally, there is that wing.  The GT3 wing looks like you could serve drinks on it after a hard track run for a party of six.  It looks like a small surfboard perched on the back of the car, but it is contoured and sculpted to make a powerful statement to the eye as well as the wind.  From the inside the wing splits the lower third of the rear window with a thick horizontal line.  It sits on top of a smaller ducktail that sits behind two intake slots in the engine deck lid.  The wing is adjustable so you can set it to a more aggressive angle for the track.  Below the deck are the immortal scripted GT3 letters.


While the 996 may lack some of the sensual lines genetically born to the 993, it is not really unattractive.  It is more like the girl next store than some supermodel.  However, the sex is so good you just donÕt care!  Turn the key and snick the fat shifter into first gear, unload the heavy clutch pedal and the car barks to life.  This creature is born onto the road.  Trolling down the developmentÕs streets the car makes all kinds of delightful noises absent in the Carrera 2.  There are mechanical whirring and thrashings that let you know what business this car is in.  The ride is somewhat rough, but not harsh.  However, one thing you do notice right away is the chassis is unbelievably stiff.  I am not talking suspension, but the rigidity of the car is like nothing I have driven.  It feels like superman could grab a fender well of the car, shake it in fury, and it would not twist a millimeter.  Going over rough streets the car just doesnÕt bend.  Porsche added additional chassis stiffening over the stock 996.  Now, grab second gear and the car explodes with torque and power absent in 993.  Yes the 993 feels quick, but the GT3 is much quicker and feels like a boxerÕs punch when you pour on the power.  People that have put the car through its paces on the track will tell you that the power just keeps going and going like the Energizer Bunny right up to 190 mph.


Steering input is remarkably light, but very sensitive with great feedback.  The steering telegraphs everything the car is doing with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel.  It makes the car feel light and extremely responsive to the driverÕs inputs.  There is no real body roll when the car is turned hard.  If feels planted and flat.  Oh, did I mention turn in is precise?


Years ago I remember peering into the cockpit of a fellow pilotÕs aircraft.  He had affixed a placard that said ÒAircraft Bite Fools.Ó  If that logic is true, the GT3 qualifies as an aircraft.  There is no stability control on the GT3.  All the power is there and it is yours to do what you will with it.  Like the early 911S it will bite you if you do something foolish, such as lift-throttle-oversteer.  Yes the limits are light years ahead of the 911S, but it still bites you when you get it wrong and strokes your ego when you do it right.  The punishment and rewards are just at greater limits and there is no safety net to gently catch you should you fall from grace.  However, that was exactly what the hard-core drivers were looking for and Porsche unlocked the secret once again as they did with the 964 RSA and 911 RS.  Yet, I can still drive this car on the street on a daily basis and I do.


Ergonomically, the GT3 interior is a mixed bag.  Everything ticks and ties together almost flawlessly, but it pretty far removed from the 993.  Still, I get the feeling much more effort was put into the human factors with the GT3.  The stalks about the steering wheel are almost exactly the same as the 993.  The feel is even the same.  The only thing new is the small push button at the end of the cruise control stalk that turns the cruise on and off.  When engaged, there is a small speedometer symbol that illuminates in green inside the speedometer.  There is an arrow pointing from the outside of the speedometer symbol arc that mates with the symbolÕs speedometer needle that is permanently set at the ½ mark (100 mph).  That symbol is about 3/8Ó in diameter.



 

Go To : The GT3 Test Drive Part III

 

The GT3 Test Drive

 
Part II