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First look: Greater grunt for Porsche’s racy GT3

Wilder: Latest GT3 arrives with more power, greater downforce, beefier brakes, revised looks and a chassis lift system.

Porsche’s facelifted 911 GT3 debuts early with more pace, clever new features

30 Jan 2009

PORSCHE has revealed the latest incarnation of its purest, most track-focussed 911 variant, the GT3, which it says is more powerful, faster and more refined than before.

The facelifted GT3 will make its global public debut at the Geneva motor show on March 3, before going on sale in Australia late this year.

Unlike the rest of the 997-series 911 range, which has been unveiled with the exception of the turbocharged GT2 and Turbo flagships, the manual-only GT3 does not feature Porsche’s new twin-clutch automated manual transmission, PDK.

As Porsche’s most formidable non-turbo model, however, it does come with a larger, more powerful 3.8-litre flat six petrol engine to replace the outgoing GT3’s 3.6-litre boxer.

Thanks to the 200cc increase in displacement and the fitment, for the first time, of Porsche’s VarioCam valve actuation system for the engine’s exhaust camshafts, the result is peak power of 320kW – up 15kW on its predecessor.

While Porsche’s teaser release makes no mention of maximum torque output or the direct fuel-injection system that debuted on the new 3.6 and 3.8-litre boxers that power the other 997 Series II variants, the German auto giant does say midrange torque delivery has been improved.

25 center image The result is 0-100km/h acceleration in 4.1 seconds (two-tenths better than before and within half a second of the flagship 911 turbos) and a top speed of 312km/h – up from 310km/h. Porsche says the 0-160km/h sprint is now also achieved half a second more quickly than before, in 8.2 seconds.

Apart from performance, driving dynamics are claimed to be the other major advance with the latest GT3, with upgraded aerodynamics said to increase downforce both front and rear “to such an extent that the overall pressure pushing down the car is more than twice that of the former model”.

Porsche says that as a consequence, it has been able to substantially stiffen both the springs and anti-roll bars at both ends, increasing high-speed grip and stability and delivering more precise handling in the Porsche Active Suspension Management’s (PASM) sports mode, without reducing roll comfort in the normal PASM mode.

For the first time, the rear-drive GT3 will also offer the ability to deactivate stability control and traction control in separate steps, as part of an even more sporting variation of the Porsche Stability Management system (PSM).

The newest GT3 is visually differentiated by new bi-Xenon headlights, LED tail-lights and modified air intakes and outlets, plus lighter race-bred alloy wheel with a one-piece centre lock. Of course, they’re wrapped in ultra-high-performance tyres featuring tyre pressure monitoring.

Braking has also been upgraded to match the GT3’s faster pace, via larger-diameter brake discs with improved ventilation and the option of an exclusive version of Porsche’s PCCB ceramic brake disc.

Porsche says an optional lift system will also be available for the 2010 GT3, raising front ground clearance by a handy 30mm at the touch of a button. Similar to the feature offered by some of its supercar rivals, the system aims to make lighter work of tricky driveway crossings and the like.

Equally as interesting is the new Porsche Active Drivetrain Mounts (PADM) system that will become available “at a later stage” for the GT3. Comprising specific new (harder) engine mounts that are claimed to virtually eliminate mass and torque affects from the engine, the racetrack-oriented system is said to improve on-the-limit handling with no expense to everyday comfort.

Porsche Cars Australia (PCA) public relations manager Paul Ellis said first local deliveries of the upgraded GT3 would arrive in November, depending on production.

“The GT3 is one car in our range that tends to have a higher demand than what the factory can provide,” he said. “I wouldn’t say the car is recession proof, but it has always attracted an almost cult-like demand.

“We will be negotiating with the factory to get enough volume to meet all customer sales,” he said.

PCA says it is yet to take deposits for the revised GT3 because few had expected the sought-after model to appear so early in the 997 MkII product cycle.

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