2010 Porsche 911 GT3: Think of it as Grand Touring Cubed

Porsche launched its fastest, most powerful 911 GT3 to date at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 2009. The 2010 Porsche GT3 raised the performance bar by bumping up the engine size to a highly refined version 3.8-liters, and adding VarioCam technology on both the intake and exhaust. The naturally aspirated, DOHC, 24-valve, water-cooled, flat-opposed six-cylinder “boxer” engine cranks out 435 horsepower representing a 20 horsepower increase over its predecessor, along with 317 pound feet of torque. The torque figure delivers a significant increase in mid-range engine revs, which is essential to everyday motoring. The high-revving engine has a redline of 8500 rpm, making it the most potent naturally aspirated engine in any street-legal Porsche 911.

Track performance is also boosted clocking a 0-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds, continuing on to 100 mph in 8.2 seconds, with a top track speed of 194 mph. The engine mates only to a six-speed manual gearbox, and the engine and transmission are bolted together to create a common drive unit. The special, low-restriction, large-capacity exhaust system ensures free engine breathing, while maintaining sound levels within public-road legal limits. The system’s unique, dual centrally mounted outlets beneath the rear bumper are an instant giveaway to the 911 GT3’s identity. A mechanical limited-slip differential completes the drivetrain, incorporating components developed for the Carrera GT, which provides asymmetric limited-slip functions of 28 percent under load and 40 percent in overrun.

Not only have the performance factors been improved, but the driving dynamics have been enhanced as well, providing even better grip and stability. Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM) allowed engineers to stiffen the springs and anti-roll bars, delivering more precise handling in sport mode, while retaining a comfort level suitable for everyday use in the normal mode setting. For the first time, the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 comes standard with Porsche Stability Management (PSM), with suspension mapping that mirrors that of the GT2. The driver may disengage both stability control and traction control in separate steps for less intervention or assistance.

A new aerodynamics package increases effective downforce at both the front and rear of the car, more than doubling the effect of the previous GT3. The package includes larger vents in the front and rear bumpers, giving the 2010 GT3 a more aggressive appearance, accentuated by bi-xenon headlights that are now standard, and also by LED rear light clusters and modified air intakes and outlets. Other major improvements include: innovative dynamic engine mounts that utilize magnetic fluid that automatically stiffens them, creating a more solid coupling between the engine and chassis during spirited driving scenarios, thereby providing a sporting rigid assembly through fast curves, while at the same time allowing for engine isolation and increased comfort when driving in everyday traffic, and improving traction as well when accelerating from a standstill; an upgraded braking system, featuring larger discs fore and aft with aluminum hubs and enhanced ventilation  (Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes are

optionally available); a new lift system for the front axle is also available — by using an on-board air compressor, the car’s front can be raised for steep driveways or inclines. The touch of a button raises the front ride height by 30 mm, or 1.18 inches and at speeds up to approximately 30 mph; new, lighter GT3 specific center lock wheels and ultra-high performance tires round out the functional and visual enhancement of the GT3.

Inherent Porsche’s philosophy is the fact that every Porsche must have braking power commensurate with its acceleration and top test-track speed capabilities. Therefore, all are equipped with cross-drilled, internally vented four-wheel disc antilock brakes. And all have more power and speed than their immediate predecessors, along with more braking ability, as well.

The front brake discs on the 911 GT3 are 14.96 inches by 1.34 inches (380 mm by 34 mm) while the rear discs measure 13.78 inches by 1.1 inches (350 mm by 28 mm). The GT3 gets six-piston monobloc calipers up front, and Porsche’s engineers increased caliper strength and stiffness by adding crossbars to the piston-bearing side units.

The Sport Chrono Package Plus feature is available as an optional, enhancement package that brings specific control maps to the engine management system and Porsche Stability Management as well as to Porsche Active Suspension Management. The revised engine control maps favor performance over comfort providing even quicker engine response, not only on deployment but also on release of the throttle. Stability thresholds allow more lateral slip before the ABS and PSM intervene. On PASM equipped cars, the system switches to its firmer setting to provide more agility in cornering. However, in some instances, such as on wet pavement, a softer suspension setting can be advantageous so the driver using Sport Chrono can press the PASM button to return to the normal damper settings. The Sport Chrono package also includes a digital/analog stopwatch and lap-counting function.

Visually, the 2010 Porsche GT3 presents an extremely sinister persona – particularly in Black. It sits lower than low on a wide track with full wheel wells, taken up by the 19-inch Michelin Sport Cup soft compound performance rubber mounted on lightweight 5-“V”-spoke alloy wheels – 8.5-inches up front and 12-inches wide in the rear. The wide rear haunches and rear deck with its oversized, fixed, vented spoiler and center positioned, raucous dual exhaust outlets round out the competitive nature of the beast. There are no rear seats enabling the driver and front passenger to experience even more fun. My test GT3 wore an intimidating Black exterior finish, with the interior cloaked in Black as well. The base price was set at $112,200. The final price rose to $129,660. After adding the Adaptive Sport Seats, self-dimming mirrors and Rain Sensor, Dynamic Engine Mounts, heated front seats, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, Sound Package Plus, Sport Chrono Package, interior color floor mats, universal audio interface and Destination charge.

Summary: The 2010 911 Porsche GT3 Coupe, though a perfectly street legal car offer the impression that one is actually piloting a racecar. It is intended for serious driving aficionados who desire exclusivity in a vehicle that also showcases race-handling capability right off the showroom floor.

In terms of its visual impact, the 911 GT3 is an attention magnet – it is exceptionally low, very wide and exudes a nasty attitude. Up front is a large rectangular air intake flanked by smaller (but still large) matching intakes.  A horizontal slot is located at the leading edge of the sharply raked hood, adding to the cooling equation. Stylish and functional air escape “gills”. are positioned behind the rear wheel The sticky Michelin tires are specially formulated, sporting a tread that is nearly non-existent – not intended for running in the wet. The lightweight alloy wheels allow plenty of room between the spokes to view the ceramic disc rotors and bright yellow calipers. While the entire car sits low, the front splitter is “in the weeds” low, necessitating extremely cautious negotiation of driveways and speed bumps (my GT3 test car was without the new front lift feature). Fortunately, the lower edge is sacrificial and is easily and affordably replaceable. The roofline consists of the traditional 911 look – angling into the wide and rounded rear end.

The interior, even though void of any extraneous sound proofing material, and without rear seats, is surprisingly well appointed. The Adaptive Sport Seats are very comfortable and supportive. There are dash-mounted cupholders  (who needs stinking cupholders?), power outlets and traditional gauges, which provide the driver with all the necessary basic vehicle information.

Acceleration is instantaneous in all gears, with no abruptness, but rather a smooth rapid, forward sensation while propelling the car to illegal speed levels in short order. Braking is impressive as well, with the ability to stop in a hurry, with little effort. It’s as if a giant vacuum sucks the car rapidly to a halt with minimal input.

The ride quality is unquestionably firm, but not really objectionable or uncomfortable at freeway speeds – cruising rough surfaced streets is a different story however — you definitely don’t want to do all of your GT3 piloting in the latter scenario. Steering is spot on, and the car’s stability is incredible. Bottom line, the 911 GT3 is a Porsche to lust after, but it’s certainly not for everybody, since acquisition of such an exclusive vehicle is a not within the reaches of everyone’s financial portfolio. It is truly a street legal, sophisticated race machine at heart, with “jaw-dropping”, sporty good looks and stance, incredible power, performance and handling attributes and it exudes “Porsche-ness” to the highest degree. Whereas the GT2 is Grand Touring squared – the GT3 is definitely Grand Touring Cubed.

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