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First look: Porsche 911 spawns brutal new GT3

Geneva star: New GT3 makes its world debut alongside Porsche's new 911 Turbo next week, and arrives here in late 2006.

Zuffenhausen lifts the lid on its new 309kW 911 GT3, the purest Porsche of them all

24 Feb 2006

PORSCHE may be fashionably late to the Geneva preview party, but its sixth-generation racecar-for-the road - revealed tonight Australian time, just three days ahead of its world debut in Switzerland on February 28 - appears to have been worth the wait.

Quicker, faster and cheaper than its devastatingly effective 996-series 911 forebear, the 997 iteration of the purest Porsche powers its rear wheels with a 305kW 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated flat six that's claimed to set a new specific power output for "road-legal production sports cars".

As expected, the latest GT3 will make its public premiere at next week's Geneva motor show alongside a redesigned version of Porsche's flagship, the 911 Turbo coupe, before going on sale here in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Revealed last week, the 997 911 Turbo employs a 3.6-litre boxer with world-first variable turbine technology to drive 353kW and 620Nm of torque through a revised all-wheel drive system, and goes on sale in the third quarter of this year - priced at $327,000 (up almost $20,000 on the outgoing 911 T).

While that makes it Porsche's most powerful production car ever (and a more convincing argument against the likes of the BMW M6's 373kW 5.0-litre V10), the most powerful GT3 ever isn't too tardy either.

Thanks to a variable intake system, a 6mm-larger (82mm) throttle valve, optimised cylinder-heads and a lower-backpressure exhaust system, GT3 now offers max power of 305kW (up 29kW) at a peaky 7600rpm - and a class-leading specific power output of 84.7kW per litre. It also "revs freely" to 8400rpm (up 200rpm).

With a power output just shy of the 996-series 911 Turbo's, GT3 is claimed to sprint to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds - two-tenths quicker than its predecessor and just a tenth down on the outgoing 911 T.

25 center imageOf course, the 997 911 T will be quicker than ever with a claimed 3.9-second 0-100 sprint time, but the new GT3 is expected to remain the Porsche purist's choice - as the road-going version of the 294kW/400Nm 911 GT3 Cup race car, which weighs just 1140kg, costs a cool $300,000 and sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 3.7 seconds (the same as the surprisingly quick 997 911 Turbo auto).

By Porsche's own admission, the GT3 is an "uncompromised, unadultered road car with race track appeal".

And its $253,200 pricetag - down substantially from the 996's $265,000 ask - will make it even more popular in Australia, where GT3 has enjoyed unrivalled popularity or what's known as market penetration.

Lower six-speed manual gear ratios see 160km/h come up in a claimed 8.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 310km/h, while new to GT3 is a "change-up display" gearshift warning light and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM).

Though it lacks the Turbo's wider Carrera 4-based body, GT3 gets 19-inch wheels and tyres, plus a mechanical limited-slip differential and a new switchable electronic traction control system adapted from the Carrera GT, featuring "traction-slip and drag-torque control" functions.

While stripped-out Clubsport or RS versions of the GT3 will again be on the agenda, the 997-series 911 model line-up should eventually be completed by the 911 Turbo cabriolet, an even hotter 911 Turbo S and the deadly serious rear-drive, turbocharged 911 GT2.

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