Porsche introduced a real gem at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday – the '991.2' 2018 Porsche 911 GT3. As the '.2' suggests, the latest 911 GT3 is a facelift of the original 991 GT3 that first unveiled in 2013. However, this mid-cycle update introduces one very special feature – the good old-fashioned H-pattern manual gearbox.
The original 991 GT3 was a fantastic car and was designed to be PDK-only, as Porsche intended to emphasis its track-focused motorsport-inspired engineering. However, many Porsche purists didn't approve of the dual-clutch PDK at all. The GT3 always represented the ultimate driver's car and an automatic transmission has no business taking away involvement from the enthusiasts. Thankfully, the feeback from critics were heard loud and clear and Porsche finally brought the 6-speed manual back with this year's facelift. Of course, the customer base that has adopted the PDK gearbox can still choose that option as well.
The second biggest change to the 991.2 GT3 is the power unit. A 911 GT3 Cup derived 4.0 liter engine making 500 hp now hangs off the rear-end of the new GT3. According to Porsche, the new GT3 is capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in 3.4 seconds with PDK, 3.9 seconds with a manual transmission, and continue to rocket off to a top speed of 197 mph. As per usual, Porsche's acceleration figures are likely to be substantially conservative.
There are a number of exterior changes made to the car as well, most noticeably at the front bumper. Larger air dams are designed to allow better airflow to cool its radiators. What's more, the aero underneath the GT3 is also completely reworked, although unfortunately it is not something that can be seen without putting the car on a lift. Nonetheless, Porsche GT Project Manager Andreas Preuninger claims the new GT3 is capable of creating an extra 20 percent more downforce than the 2013 GT3, without any penalties in drag coefficient. The wizards at Porsche were capable or retaining its relatively low drag while adding an extra 160 kg of downforce, matching the mighty GT3 RS big brother.
The new 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 is a very important car for the Stuttgart sports car maker. While technology and innovation drives sports cars to be ever faster and more intelligent, it's clear Porsche's customers will continue to look at Porsche as the last-standing champion for driving pleasure and engagement. Moving forward, we can definitely expect Porsche to continue offering a manual transmission in its line of GT vehicles, if not the standard non-GT lineup.
The 2018 GT3 will go on sale for $143,600 towards the end of the year. For wealthy Porschephiles that have the means, the next question is this – will the latest 2018 991.2 GT3 "track car" be an even better experience than a 2016 911R "driver's car?" We certainly hope to see a comparison between the two models later this year.
Personally, I would love to purchase the new 2017 GT3 and recreate a subtle "backdate" with the original GT3 front bumper design. Finish that off with a 911R inspired interior and I will have the only Porsche I will ever want or need for the rest of my life.