Typically, when a vehicle comes to the end of its five- to seven-year production cycle, folks are relieved to see it go. With dated styling and obsolete technology, it is almost archaic in its form and function. There’s rarely celebration for the last car off the line.
That counts double for most sports cars, whose actual lifespan typically lasts a mere 18 months before competitors shave its lap time record and designers create something even more outlandish upon which well-heeled buyers may feast their eyes.
Yes, we’ve been graced with the new 992-era Carrera S (with an estimated as-tested price of $143,350), and it is indeed awesome. We dynoed it at 487 hp and 478 lb-ft at the crank. Tractable, endlessly powerful, almost graceful in its assured movements, the 992 responds precisely to your every input. And it will do so forever and always.
Which means the few remaining 991.2 versions are weak sauce by comparison, right? Wrong.
As part of Monterey Car Week festivities, Porsche had our group of journalists drive up from L.A. in a trio of outgoing 991.2 GT3 editions—the standard GT3, the Touring model, and the ferocious GT3 RS. If someone were going to make a bunch of noise while being thrown out of the clubhouse, the GT3 does just that.
For those unfamiliar, the GT3 label essentially means Porsche converted a 911 into a street-legal race car, complete with the vestigial back seat ripped out.
All GT3 doors close with the requisite, confident “chunk.” Firing up the 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engine brings a snarl of God’s Own Sawzall delivering 500 horsepower (520 for the RS) and a ludicrous 9,000-rpm redline.
On offer in the base GT3 and Touring models is a six-speed manual transmission with a short-throw gearshift carrying the confidence of a bolt-action rifle, not to mention rev-matching downshifts and an almost unstallable clutch. However, the GT3 also offers the magnificent PDK that will make you forswear manuals forever.
The steering is scalpel-precise. You don’t wrestle the GT3, you caress it, and in turn the GT3 caresses the road. If you need to get darty, it can be darty. The Touring model lacks the standard GT3’s carbon-ceramic brakes, but its steel binders still pack enough stopping force to avoid a flock of wild turkey chicks unexpectedly crossing the road.
Yes, your dampers may bark against the bump stops as the ground sharply undulates beneath you, and the tires may skitter across bad pavement, but the GT3 delivers the undefinable feeling that this 911 will not be defeated under any circumstance. It is an indomitable creation.
At $164,020 as tested for the base model and $168,840 for a well-equipped Touring edition, this mystical, magical beast is a life-changing experience.
See images from 20 years of the Porsche 911 GT3 in the gallery below.
Now, let’s talk GT3 RS, which is a reality-changing experience. Despite its track intentions, it will likely be purchased by hedge fund poseur bros who can afford its as-tested $204,980 price and take residence nowhere near such speedways, which is a shame.
The RS is skatey in your hands. Its track breeding brings immediate brake bite, but there’s no sharp dive in the nose; it merely decelerates the car firmly. Some might sneer at its race-ready PDK, but it’s faultless aside from its desire to chuff-chuff-chuff in slow-and-go traffic.
At speed, the RS feels like it’s constantly clutching, grabbing, chewing at the asphalt. Guttural and savage, this is 4.0 liters of naturally aspirated defiance against the imminent hegemony of the turbocharger. It is an angry beast, one that’s not meant to be kept in the cage of the city.
Which would I choose, one of the “old” 911 GT3 series or a gleaming-new 911 Carrera S? Although I like being at the head of the line, the GT3 is also the ultimate refinement of the species. It is a true shopper’s dilemma. Pick ’em.