What are you driving?
A Porsche 911 GT3, and we're doing so properly. Not to take away from the new GT3 in twin-clutch PDK guise, but with the new 911 GT3, Porsche's GT department has back-pedalled on the decision to only fit a paddleshift gearbox to its predecessor, and chucked in the option of a good old gearstick and three pedals. To do so it's used the same gearbox found in the exclusive 911 R - well, you didn't think the GT department spent all that time developing a manual for a special edition, did you?
Yes, it's slower as a result, but... We. Just. Don't. Care. The PDK is undeniably awesome, but the new six-speed manual brings back the purity of the drive that's been a little bit missing since Porsche went paddle only. Choice is a good thing, a very good thing. Six gears here then, instead of the seven of the PDK, a simpler mechanical locking differential and a bit lighter for it - 17kg if you need to know. The PDK's a quicker shifter and faster against the clock to the tune of half a second from 0-100km/h, but then the 3.9-second time achieved by the manual GT3 is hardly slovenly.
The six-speeder outguns its dual-clutch, paddle-shift relation at the top end in compensation, where it'll creep away at v-max on the autobahn with a 2km/h greater top speed, at 320km/h. Academic stuff, really, and the mating of the new 4.0-litre race-derived naturally aspirated 500hp flat-six petrol engine to an old-school manual is something that gets us very excited indeed.
Name its best bits
The interactivity. Yes, we love the PDK, but the manual car is just so much more engaging. After experiencing that incredible flat-six engine's ferocity and appetite for revs with a PDK we were concerned that the manual might be a bit overwhelmed, but it's not. The shift quality is beautiful, the weight and ease of the changes working perfectly with the fine weighting and feel on offer from the clutch pedal.
Everywhere with the GT3 you can feel the precision honing that Porsche does so well with its revisions. Usually it's fairly incremental, a collection of tiny changes adding up to a greater whole. But here that collective has taken a sizeable jump over its predecessor. This GT3 is an extraordinary car, which, whisper it, is better than the haloed 911 R. The engine is a masterpiece, it's a significant revision over the 3.8-litre in the last GT3. More than merely gaining 200cc, it has also received a race car-spec rigid valvetrain, while lightened internals and huge reductions in internal friction and pumping losses thanks to trick bits like a hollow crank and reduced friction bore linings increase that willingness for revs. It breathes easier, too, with a new intake system, and it has even gained some of the ram-air effect that's usually the reserve of RS models.
The net result of all this is an engine that'll rev all the way to 9,000rpm, and its peak output is achieved at 8,250rpm. The sound it makes when up there is about as fine an engine and exhaust note as we've ever experienced. For all its high-rev ability, a dual flap intake system brings a level of low-rev torque response that's genuinely startling. This engine really is remarkable, and to be able to enjoy it with a pedal and a stick only adds to that.
The powertrain is matched to a hugely talented chassis. It rides with civility, despite the GT3's clear focus, the steering response is quick and accurate and is aided by the standard rear-wheel-steering system. As rounded a GT car as we've experienced, the duality of its nature meaning (with the optional nose lift kit added) this is a GT3 you really could drive and enjoy every day. As sensations go, the GT3 is loaded with them, and they're richer still when you're working that little bit harder for them with the manual.
Anything that bugs you?
A couple of things. We can't afford one, and Porsche doesn't do GT cars with back seats. The idea of this engine in something that looks a bit less in your face and has the usefulness of its Carrera siblings is something we'd be looking to re-mortgage the house for.
And why have you given it this rating?
Anything coming from Porsche's GT department is pretty special, and the GT3 is no exception. In manual guise it's even more appealing, particularly as we often bemoan the lack of interactivity of modern sports cars here. It's sensationally fast, yet rich in sensations, and with that stick and pedals you can make a real difference. We applaud you for buying either GT3, they're both epic, but if we had to have just one, it'd be the one that's rocking the old tech, and be happy for the workout it gives our left leg.
I want to know more
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the Porsche 911 GT3 that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page. In the meantime, check out our video review: