26 Jan 2019

Porsche 911 GT3 Touring 2019 review

Dizzying performance needn't look bewildering
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More than an anonymous race car, the GT3 Touring is an (expensive) entry ticket to learning a whole new skill set.

It doesn’t need mechanical sympathy, it needs mechanical understanding; crunch the manual transmission like it’s just another easy-going rev-matching synchromesh ‘box and its answer is merciless. Embarrassing even, in peak hour traffic.

Like standing in the crowd at an Alice Cooper concert the noise inside the cabin can be deafening – sometimes gloriously, sometimes achingly. And it has the ride quality on bumps to match the mosh pit. 

But the stories you will share are beyond compare: awakening in the middle of the night to the reverberating memory of that blood curdling scream; proudly showing war wounds inflicted by bucket seats that gripped onto your body so tight it felt like creeping death had you in its grasp, and having a steely-eyed gaze that says I don’t need to be seen in the racer-style GT3 to go just as fast.

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Vehicle Style: Performance Coupe

Price: $326,800 plus on-road costs

Engine/trans: 368kW/460Nm 4.0-litre petrol 6cyl | six-speed manual

Fuel Economy Claimed: 12.9 l/100km Tested: 19.1 l/100km

OVERVIEW

Effectively a 911 R but without the exclusivity and stripes, the GT3 Touring is everything anyone who didn’t get one of the 25 limited Porsches could ever want. It’s less showy than a GT3 but no less focused to cut the road in two.

Priced at $326,800 plus on-road costs it is an expensive Sunday car, and just because it doesn’t look like a hyperactive race car doesn’t mean it’s something you’d want to drive every day, losing some comfort and practicality for razor-sharp dynamics.

But it carries over plenty of the same core elements – the gaping front bumper, bulging rear end with central exhausts and plenty of functional air vents and ducts to keep things cool on approach to warp speed.

In place of the hyper kid’s GT wing is a minimalist pop-up gurney flap, controlled from the push of a button, with our white test car’s understated appearance juxtaposed by a bulging 20-inch centre-locking alloy rim footprint underneath muscular wheel arches.

Carving weight, the rear seats have been removed that makes this an exclusive two-seater. It can be further fettled with option-delete air con and infotainment, though the 7.0-inch system brings handy sat nav and Apple CarPlay connectivity as standard.

The cost-option list is extensive, including things like a reversing camera and leather pack, but it’s the front-end lift kit and Clubsport package (half roll cage, racing harness and fire extinguisher) that are most useful for getting from a garage to the track.

THE INTERIOR

Standard Equipment: Keyless entry, climate control, leather and fabric trim, automatic on/off headlights/wipers.

Infotainment: 7.0-inch colour screen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and USB input.

Cargo Volume: 125 litres

Getting into the GT3 requires as much effort as you’d expect a race car should. Sitting lower than normal there’s a fair bit of bending to get comfortable but the dramatic entrance (particularly so with the optional half-roll cage) opens into a purposeful cabin. In place of soft leather is Alcantara, and plenty of it. Black aluminium dash inserts feel every bit as solid as the Porsche motorsport-led engineering underneath and the lightweight nature is matched by the fact that there’s only just (conveniently, for the Apple CarPlay) space to store one mobile phone.

It is the little things, therefore, that count – enough luggage space to carry a helmet and small bag, cup holders for a drink, and race bucket seats that forego most adjustments for only sliding reach adjustment.

Despite the lack of fine tuning, the seat has a wonderful sporty driving position, and the steering wheel tilt-and-reach movement retains the right vertical grip at nine and three o’clock regardless of its height.

It is a purpose-built cabin, so don’t expect many mod cons, but one of the best setup for doing what it does best.

ON THE ROAD

Engine: 368kW/460Nm 4.0-litre petrol 6cyl

Transmission: Six-speed manual, RWD

Suspension: Multi-link independent front and rear

Brakes: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes

Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering

Perfecting a standing start will be one of the skillsets the 911 GT3 Touring asks for. The six-speed manual transmission and moderately heavy, progressively weighted clutch are consummately matched but are only harmonious right before the moment of engagement. The transmission feels even slicker when shifting with the revs up past 4000rpm (and that’s not even halfway through this screaming boxer engine’s potential), however, if you get it wrong – or you’re lazy – it’ll catch you out.

But it’s completely fine, almost docile in traffic when puppied about with care. It’s noisy, and a bit smelly, from unnecessary sound deadening and weight removed where possible, but there’s the anticipation of greatness just lurking beneath. And the incentive at all times is to tap into that exciting flurry of potential.

The reason this car is such a weapon yet so sweet is a 4.0-litre horizontally-opposed six-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine. It produces 368kW of power at a feverish 8250rpm, a supercar-light 460Nm of torque at 6000rpm, and it’ll keep shouting at you until 9000rpm, where the birds fly out of the trees and the bitumen begins to stretch past the car like an elastic band.

While cultured on the road among traffic, it’s when alone that it feels at home, holding onto the blacktop with boundless grip as the driver blips the throttle to shift down a gear and rockets out of the corner to a scrupulous howling roar.

The brake pedal feels firm and strong, the steering is immediate and finely precise, and the balance of the machine is so predictable and well poised that it takes a purposeful effort to become unsettled.

Despite its fantastic performance car table manners, it won’t let you win easily, and there’s a depth of learning ahead to master its ability - something this tester, unfortunately, has to give back.

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: Not tested.

Safety Features: Six airbags, ABS and ESC.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Three years/unlimited km with three-years roadside assist.

Servicing: Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Costs are from $695 to $995 per visit.

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

The Nissan GT-R lives up to every bit of its fabled Godzilla namesake and is a blistering quick track weapon with digital modern-day supercar performance.

The Mercedes-AMG GT is the muscle car that we’d expect the German performance car maker to deliver: fast, brutal acceleration with playful grip.

The Jaguar F-Type SVR is more powerful and has more grunt, mixing a modern-day force-inducted V8 with a nod to the British brand’s past.

 

  • Nissan GT-R
  • Mercedes-AMG GT
  • Jaguar F-Type

 

TMR VERDICT  

Despite a handful of power-hitting rivals, they all feel less engaging and delightful to drive across the broad spectrum of abilities the GT3 Touring has. In the age of the digitalisation of the car, this last bastion of the 991 generation should appeal to the purist driver. It doesn’t have the rousing look of the car it's based on and will be too incognito for the price for others, but it’s the perfect answer to the poor man's 911 R.

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