Why the 997 GT3 is the best car I’ve ever owned.
Staggering claim, but it’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. Although my history of cars is by no means vast, the range is certainly broad in scope, giving me a wide spectrum of pigeon holes when placing cars into categories.
The 997 GT3 slots into the ‘My God, It’s Full Of Stars’ category. Throw away any pretexts you may wish to dress up your Porsche related complimentaries with, as the XBOX 360’s and the Playstation 3 alongside it, I have witnessed the evolution of the sports car into Next Generation. The 7.1, HD, 1080p supercar is here.
Allow me to explain how this came to be?
Three years ago, just as I put an order down for a 997GT3, I was a proud owner of a 996GT3RS, resplendent in white with red decals. For me, at that moment, it was the pinnacle of the car. No other car on the market was as focused, as functional and as downright obvious as the RS. It simply was a track car, with a tax disc and some of my fondest driving moments that are burned vividly to my mind are as a result of moments spent with the 996RS. 200MPH, defying levels of grip and traction, frequent visits to the dentist – it had almost everything you could want from a car. Almost.
For all its championed merits, it wasn’t so well behaved at worst of times. If it rained, you play Scrabble instead. High speed on the roads would encourage lane changes without prior negotiation and continuously being asked ‘Where I bought the stickers from’ became a little tiring. Finally, a mechanical problem owing to some irresponsible usage from a prior owner meant the car was under the surgeon’s knife for 2 months. Porsche eventually bought the car back from me.
So what does one do after selling a Porsche? That’s right, I went Ferrari. The 550 was the most beautiful car I’ve ever owned, it looked stunning. A leviathan of an engine, the V12 5.5lt power plant was legendary in its capabilities. It was both a gentleman and a hooligan at the same time. Race track or opera, it was at home everywhere. However, soon after, I sold the car. Not quite so much a mistake, as the car was fabulous and gave me insight to what owning a Ferrari was all about. But, I just simply wasn’t ready for Ferrari ownership.
So days became weeks became months became years. I eventually got the phone call from Porsche – my car was ready to pick up.
The night before was a bizarre collage of thoughts and activities. When you are picking up a brand new GT3 the next day, one you’ve been waiting for practically 3 years, boy do the adrenaline glands kick in!
00:00 – Go to bed.
00:30 – Still no sleep.
01:00 – Wash my laundry
01:30 – Have a shower.
02:00 – Shave.
02:30 – Watch a movie
03:00 – Watch another
03:30 – Zzzzz?
07:30 brings a bleary eyed wake up call courtesy of the mobile and the day’s begun.
I’m straight to the dealer, but not without a visit to the bank. With so much red-tape and bureaucracy involved in making large sum cash transactions, it took me all morning to organise transfer of funds before I eventually arrived at the dealership with my car still under silken wraps.
As I sat there, signing away my release forms (I was practically adopting this car), I realised why I was having difficulties writing. ‘My hands are clammy’ I exclaimed to the dealer. He thought it was because I was handing over £85 big ones. ‘No no, it’s just been so long in anticipation of this car, I’m hoping I haven’t over-hyped it for myself’.
Prep-talk all done, I had the keys in my hand and the car was in the showroom exit lane, waiting for me to go. In an instant, all my fears evaporated as I dropped myself (albeit rather unglamorously) into the race carbon bucket seats. I was home and it felt just so right, were it not for the Nivea for Men, my smile would have cracked my face clean in two.
The seats felt perfect. Complaints about these on internet forums aplenty, I was delighted to have no immediate complaints about them. I am not a tall person, perhaps at last I’ve found a benefit to being 5’7″ Regardless, they were snug with a fantastic seating position and just looked fabulous. I ordered the carbon fibre door kick panels and they matched perfectly with the carbon backed seats.
The tacho taking centre stage on the instrument cluster, the intentions of the GT3 are by no means discreet. Red line beginning at 8,200rpm, there is already electricity in my body and I’m excited beyond comprehension. But the entire dealership is watching me, together with a handful of customers. I could turn the key and a slip of the clutch could catapult me through the showroom window, into the Cayenne and Porsche design bike and if I’m lucky I’d take down only the general manager and and and?
Eyes back on the dash again. With the PCM (Porsche Communication Management) taking centre stage in the dash, the ergonomics of the car had been clearly dragged face first through the hedges of the 21st century. With a glance in my rear view mirror, the contradictory glimpses of the roll cages behind and the sat nav up front, one can’t help but laugh at the concept of such a thought, but it really works so very well.
I shall never forget the feeling of driving away from the showroom as I grazed the front lip of the car on the exit kerb. It was a feeling of elation and the notion of having completed a lifelong dream will stay with me forever. I have placed the memory into a scrapbook and look forward to browsing through it in the future.
The layout of the following day still remains largely a blur, aside from the fact I completed 250 miles. GT3’s come bench run-in so you only really have to bed the brakes in, otherwise the engine’s ready to go for gold. And what an engine! A delicious 8200rpm red line gives you massive flexibility to use all 6 gears. You don’t need to use 8200rpm, just in the same way you don’t need a Porsche GT3! But to petrol heads, reason and logic rarely get in the way of a good car.
The breadth and capability of this engine is titanic. Accelerate at any point and it is relentless in the build up of revs and no matter what your brain is telling you, just don’t shift up. Use the eyes for that and you’ll notice you still have another 2000rpm to enjoy. And those last 2000rpm’s are the greatest. The scream is an unholy sound that starts with a tingle and builds to an almighty tenor and with the engine a few inches behind your head, ensure any passenger disclaimers are signed in the usual fashion – no weak hearts, no high blood pressure and absolutely no children. Ladies and gentleman this is a car for adults. This is the magazine the newsagent keeps under his desk. This is the gun Dirty Harry owns. This is the 350k Scoville rated chilli pepper. If ever there was an 18 certificate on a car, no other has been more deserving.
Engine response is immediate and with absolutely zero chassis lag, when you accelerate, the entire car is working together as a team, taut body, rifle bolt transmission and firm, yet compliant suspension. There simply is no weak link in the chain. I gave a working colleague a lift home today and he claimed that his head was approximately 50% longer as a result of his skulls inability to maintain elasticity with the forces at play within the GT3. And I can empathise. My head is firmly planted within the headrest – it’s the safest way to ensure you don’t get whiplash.
You’re all waiting for me to say it handles like it’s on rails just so you can say ‘I hate that phrase’ but goddammit, it handles like it’s on rails! I sometimes forget to turn off from roundabouts as I enter into some infinite rotation around road islands with comic manic laughter that has me peeling passengers from the side windows with a spatula. Sick bags aside, we can take a good look at those Michelin tyres and cynically claim that there’s no way on earth a tyre like that can make its way into legal production. Quite literally, slicks with the odd groove, they provide astonishing grip and traction, even in the wet, as the UK’s typical weather proved this evening. They also showed no evidence of the slippery and unwieldy nature of the 996RS in the wet, which once threw me from the third lane into the first lane of the M1 once as I hit a standing puddle. I had my own standing puddle after that experience. Ultimately, the capabilities of the Pilots are yet to be established after prolonged use, but initial impressions are extremely impressive.
I cannot wait for more seasoned use of this car on roads that are more appropriate. I look forward to the Stelvio Pass. I dream of laps at romantic Spa and I plan and scheme towards an uninvited guest trip to the GT3’s Italian counterparts at Modena and St. Agata. Right now, however, I’m enjoying the moment and the one recurring memory that keeps visiting me is of the sensation of raging from 2nd gear to 3rd gear and the feeling of total cohesion and unity you get from the car as the revs dip from 8200rpm to 5000rpm and build up its relentless, endless urge to its redline again. It’s inspiring stuff, really, and I have nothing but total admiration and respect for those who appear to be the greatest car engineers on the planet at Porsche.
A wild orgy of capabilities that has melded the fabulous engine with the transmission and chassis has provided me with unadulterated driving joy that has been both intoxicating and addictive. And I haven’t even mentioned the ‘loud’ button yet?
Unfortunately, most journalists have totally missed the point with the ‘Sport’ button, claiming that the additional 15lb/ft it releases is pointless and should just be on all the time. This is misrepresentation of a genius device which has allowed Porsche to release a production car to the masses that has a voice akin to a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
You see, in standard mode, the engine and exhaust emit the classic flat 6 sound we’ve all come to love, all the way from Le Mans to Ace Café. It’s a characteristically gruff sound that has become synonymous with the 911 and, well we’re all happy with it. Depress the Sport key and valves in the exhaust open up to turn the exhaust note into something altogether more barbaric. What was a typically flat 6 howl has been turned into an aggressive, monstrous dragon cry that just should not be legal on UK roads. That this scream goes all the way to 8200rpm has had my mother whispering silent prayers all night.
My name is Cem, I’m a sport button addict.