Somewhere high up on the Angeles Crest Highway, Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” plays on the Porsche 911 GT3’s sound system, searing through its 12 Bose speakers.
It’s an appropriate track. Not because I’m about to wreck the car—I’m not. The car is wrecking me. Drive enough vehicles and every once in a while one will thunk you in the cerebral cortex, forcing you to appreciate how invigorating driving—not simply piloting—a car can be.
The 911 GT3 Touring is a dying breed, a highly adept sports car powered by a naturally aspirated engine, a four-liter, 502-horsepower, six-cylinder boxer. There are cheaper machines that put out bigger numbers. We’re in an era where sports cars pile on more power, via superchargers or battery-electric powertrain technology. Yet they’re not piling on any more fun.
The GT3 forces you to feel. When driving at speed into corners, the car almost seems to lean in, eerily—the result of a double-wishbone front axle suspension derived from one of the brand’s Le Mans race cars, paired with four-wheel steering. During high-speed mountain descents the GT3’s Michelins maintain absurd grip up front, thanks to the aforementioned suspension. You feel you’re in a spaceship returning to earth. With your hand on the oversized cue ball of its six-speed transmission, you realize with every not-quite-nailed shift you’re the only imperfect element in the composition. The machine could do it better, of course. But with far fewer thrills.
The Touring model GT3 is for the guy who likes to drive one of the most exclusive 911 variants around yet doesn’t need to advertise it. You lose the script “911 GT3” badge and the GT3’s massive, look-at-me rear wing gets expunged in favor of an automatically deploying rear spoiler. You lose a smidge of downforce, but unless you’re dying to shave milliseconds off a lap time, you won’t care. Bonus: The slightly subtler nature of the Touring model means fewer conversations with car geeks at gas stations.
Our test car cost $182,700 with $20,000 in options, from the Gentian Blue Metallic paint job ($840) to LED matrix headlights ($3,270) to carbon fiber bucket seats ($5,900). Pricey, yes. Yet it’s already beat the brand’s wild, near-million-dollar 918 Spyder around the Nürburgring. The GT3 is essentially a race car with a sweet radio.
Cue the Petty.
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