Porsche stirred up quite a controversy when it decided to offer the previous 911 GT3 only with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. That PDK gearbox is brilliant, but if ever a car deserved a manual transmission, it was the GT3, and enthusiasts lets Porsche know.
Good news: Porsche was listening. For the 2018 911 GT3, the manual is back.
Specifically, the same six-speed unit developed by Porsche's GT department for the brilliant 911 R, rather than the seven-speed gearbox found in lesser 911s. In the 911 R, this gearbox used shorter ratios for better in-gear acceleration, and shorter throws for better feel. For the first time on a GT3, Porsche will give buyers some choice in transmissions. A seven-speed PDK will be offered as standard, while the six-speed stick is a no-cost option.
Those gearboxes will be connected to what should be a hell of an engine too. It's a new 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six that's based on the same engine used in the latest 911 GT3 R and 911 RSR. The motor is also built on the same production line as the race engines. In the GT3, it produces 500 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque, with a redline of 9000 rpm–just like the outgoing GT3.
When equipped with the six-speed manual, the GT3 runs from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and on to a 198-mph top speed. Equipped with the PDK, the 0-60 run falls to 3.2 seconds and top speed drops to 197 mph. There's a small weight penalty for choosing the PDK, but both versions are impressively light among modern sports cars–the six-speed GT3 weighs 3116 lbs while the PDK-equipped version weighs 3153 lbs.
Like the last GT3, this car gets rear-axle steering that can turn the rear wheels in- or out-of-phase with the fronts depending on speed. Around town, the wheels turn in opposite directions, virtually shortening the GT3's wheelbase. At higher speed all four wheels turn in the same direction, virtually lengthening the wheelbase and promoting high-speed stability.
This GT3 also gets new aerodynamic treatments including a new front spoiler, a new rear diffuser and a carbon fiber rear wing. A locking rear-differential, and dynamic engine mounts also come as standard.
Inside, the GT3 eschews the small back seats of lesser 911s, and offers two carbon-backed bucket seats up front. You can also order a GT3 with more conventional sports seats, but come on, you want the buckets. As with other face-lifted 911s, the GT3 also gets Porsche's latest infotainment system which comes with standard navigation and Apple Car Play. The infotainment system also interfaces with Porsche's Track Precision App, which lets drivers analyze their track data with a mobile app.
Set to arrive at US dealers by this fall, the GT3 will start at $143,600 plus a $1050 delivery fee. That's quite a bit cheaper than the 911 R's original $184,900 price, and pittance compared with the current 911 R values.
We're talking with the head of Porsche's GT cars, Andreas Preuninger later today, so watch this space for more details on this amazing-sounding machine.
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