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Ready for the racetrack

From day one, Porsche’s philosophy has been to build sports cars that are as equally happy on the road as on the racetrack.

From day one, Porsche’s philosophy has been to build sports cars that are as equally happy on the road as on the racetrack. Drive your Porsche to the local circuit, thrash it like a rented mule and Dr. Ferdinand Porsche smiles at you from the beyond.

Then there are some that are more track ready than others.

The $138,100 2010 Porsche 911 GT3, which tilts heavily toward the racing side of the equation, will be arriving in Canada sometime in July, It is a significantly upgraded version of the 2008 997-based GT3.

The GT3’s dry-sump naturally aspirated 3.8L flat-six, (which is not related to the direct-injection 3.8L in the “regular” Carrera S), traces its lineage back to the 1996 Porsche 911 GT1 racer.

It makes 435 hp at 7600 rpm and 317 lb-ft at 6250 rpm. This is up 20 horses and 17 lb-ft over last year’s 3.6L version of the same powerplant. It rips to a 8500 rpm redline and powers the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission with interchangable gear ratios.

No seven-speed PDK twin-clutch transmission? This would have added another 30 kg right where this rear-engined sling-shot doesn’t need it — out back.

Visually, you won’t mistake a GT3 for a garden variety Carrera. The body is slammed a healthy 30mm over new centre-lock 19” ultralight alloys that wear 235/35ZR front and 305/30ZR steamrollers in the rear. A decidedly unsubtle wing perches above ram air intakes on the rear deck.

The 2010 GT3 accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds, 200 km/h in 12.3 seconds and tops out at 312 km/h (193 mph).

But numbers don’t tell the full story. Twist the key and the 3.8L race engine barks to life and settles into a busy, guttural idle. Grab the Alcantara wheel, depress the firm clutch, slot the short shifter into first and within the first few hundred meters this car telegraphs exactly what it’s all about.

I have never driven a 911 that bites and digs in like this one — and instills such confidence. In the postcard perfect part of Germany where I tested the GTS, it proved to be a devastatingly fast and precise tool. Steering and chassis feedback come at you in beautiful hi-definition.

The engine shows impressive mid-range torque, and above 4500 r.p.m. it bellows a particularly hair-raising rendition of the famed Swabian Symphony No. 911 in G-willikers.

Porsche’s two-stage PASM active damper system, which takes the sting out of regular 911 ride, is retuned for the GT3 — it goes from firm to ox-cart.

A first for the GT3 is PSM electronic stability control that has been engineered to help, not hinder fast driving. Porsche claims even professional drivers can attain faster laps with PSM that without. The two elements of PSM, stability control and traction control, can be switched off individually if so desired.

With the new rear wing and revised aero tuning, the 2010 GT3 creates double the downforce of the previous model at track speeds. Indeed, on our autobahn blast I could feel the car become more stable the farther north we got of 200 km/h.

This is the time when you think about retardation. Braking power is phenomenal, with larger front (380mm vs 350 mm) yet lighter steel/aluminum composite discs clamped by six-piston front calipers.

Competition ready ceramic brakes ($12,100 ) are available, as is a front lift system that raises the pretty prow 30mm out of harms way — a must-have in North America.

2010 Porsche 911 GT3

Type: Sports coupe
Price: $138,100
Engine: 3.8L flat-six
HP/ Torque: 435 hp at 7600 rpm; 317 lb-ft at 6250 rpm

Highlights
• Really fast
• PSM?electronic stability control

 
 
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