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Drive Review: Porsche GT3 echoes 911 RSR

Flacht GP. Not some handful of letters scratched together from the Scrabble bag but one steeped in heritage to distinguish itself from the cheesy standard set by personalised plates. Plates suggesting that Car-A-‘8’-Car-B, or that daddy helped with the finance. Flacht GP (and maybe Flacht1 GP) is the number plate to bid for if you own one of Porsche’s purest motorsport-infused cars.

If Stuttgart is ground zero for Porsche’s burgeoning road car range, then Flacht, a small town located 25km to the west with its own windtunnel facility, pitstop arena and simulators, is the main hive for Porsche motorsport. And Flacht GP arrival in Africa has been so keenly anticipated that the order books are already oversubscribed.

With Cape Town’s clouds greying at the edges with merciful drops of moisture and the first GT3 in SA anxious to out run the storm on semi-slick Michelins, I pull the yellow belt across my chest, give the key (indeed, no push-button start) a firm twist and apply my experience of other 991.2 models to find the other day-to-day with quick success.

If a 991 is understated, this really wouldn’t be out of place on a GT3 grid with fixed wing, menacing air ducts, centre lock alloys, flared arches. Traffic, alerted by the noise, scatters. The jagged view out the back, split between cage, wing and two throaty intakes is special and with a reverse camera, not all that impractical.

The first time I wound the 4.0-litre a just short of 9000rpm, it reduced me to giggled hysteria – but not before some unrepeatable language slipped through too, acknowledging the immense accelerative forces being applied.  You see, up to around 4500rpm the GT3 pulls not unlike a turbocharged 991 GTS, with a burly trunk of torque – if not outright explosiveness. The GT3’s moment of reckoning is beyond 8000rpm, when its naturally-aspirated engine imitates much the RSR race car it’s so closely related to. It’ll happily surf the mid-range before the soundtrack crescendos to an agitated yelp.  That last slice of its rev range is so frighteningly spikey that the upshifts race towards you with ear-piercing shrieks, resonate off every metal surface inside the cabin. There’s slight respite after each shift, GT3’s needle recoiling with a sting, before unabatingly snarling its way back up and in-yer-face once more.

Delighting in the experience of tapping paddles, instead of having to left-foot a clutch, I take a moment to ponder the manual version, which was the main impetus behind the 911 R. Porsche’s PDK is unquestionably the best dual-clutch available, no human could replicate the crispness of its changes and if you hold the downshift paddle in the car will choose the lowest gear based on road speed. True, the GT3 is not as fast as a 911 Turbo in a straight dash, especially at altitude in Jozi and surrounds, but with the PDK you can instantly zone into that part of the engine’s repertoire where the sonorous treasures are kept. We need another test…

I should probably attempt to articulate the way this latest GT3 corners, detailing how you initially think you’ve dived in with far too much rpm, an intuition born out of our current experience with turbo engines which quickly plateau around 5000rpm. The GT3 formula is thrillingly simple: a single steering input into the corner with 5000rpm spinning behind you, and moments later, after nearly doubling engine speed, snick the next gear at 9000rpm and allow the car its huge stride forward, as a big swing of the centre dial corresponds with g-forces pitching and ebbing.

There’s no hero drift mode with GT3, unlike another Stuttgart manufacturer’s performance cars. With the light patter of rain blistering some choice Cape mountain tarmac, not even an abrupt stomp of the right pedal 7/10ths the way around a tight corner startles GT3. The absence of on-demand oversteer is a time honoured tradition of motorsport derived 911s, where the weight is counter-intuitively in the correct place, over the drive axle, preventing it from coming unstuck. For those who acquired driving craft on a console, the absence of drift mode could be disheartening – but for purist driver, GT3’s delegation of all responsibility to the driver’s two hands and right driving shoe, is a principled case of why Porsche is, well, Porsche.

Could you drive it every day if you don’t have a 911 Turbo for such a chore? That’s always been the GT3’s party trick, to wash road with track – our car probably more suited to the latter with the Clubsport seats and roll cage (a no cost option). With the exception of a little clink when the wheels are asked to suddenly do yoga poses over uneven surfaces, the cage offers a virtuous mix of rigidity, safety and all-round visual aptness. It also bins the rear seats, saving weight. Door handles, not door loops, proper navigation, a BOSE audio system with driving modes totalling one for the gearbox shift speed, a button for the dampers and a few simple stages of traction control. And one for the baritone exhaust. A cabin which functions for driving, not configuring your Apple CarPlay.

As the donor car for the 911 R, although vastly different in character, the GT3 has been involved with another piecemeal offshoot called the 911 Touring – which retains the engine, wider body and lower chassis, whilst deleting the wing and most of Flacht GP’s styling embellishments. Considerable R&D needs to recoup the profits since each order list is highly selective but I wouldn’t want my GT3-bred car with decals or without the shouty wing. It’s absolutely mega drama like this. A triumphant road going celebration of motorsport’s most successful ever racing car.

Specification

  • Price: R2 800 000
  • 3996cc, 6cyl petrol, RWD, 368kW, 460Nm, 7A
  • 12.7l/100km, 288g/km CO2
  • 0-100km/h in 3.4secs, 318km/h
  • 1430kg
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