The adjustable rear wing uses 7.0º of attack as the default setting, but can be adjusted to a maximum of 11º to increase downforce for tracks like the Nürburgring. “You can reduce the angle of attack to 3.0º for top speed,” notes Preuninger. “In the wind tunnel, this looks like it might benefit top speed by up to 3 mph, but in real-world testing we found the gain is only .9 mph. This is due to the fact that the slightly lower downforce changes the car’s attitude just enough to increase drag.”
The new front spoiler creates as much downforce as the one on current GT3 Cup racers. Says Preuninger: “The center section creates more downforce than before. You will find that the one on the next GT3 Cup does not look much different.”
Some suspension components had to be strengthened to deal with additional stresses created by more downforce. The hubs and their carriers were among them, and it was an ideal time to revise them as they were up for tweaks to improve the GT3’s handling dynamics. Says Preuninger. “We lowered the roll center up front by nearly two inches and changed the rear axle’s roll center so we have a straight line between the two points parallel to the ground. This gives less understeer and a more stable rear end.”
The fully-adjustable coil-over suspension is largely the same. Ride height and strut-top settings are both easily altered, while shims can be used to increase negative camber to the point that slicks can be used. The front springs are now rated at 45 Nm/mm while the rears are 105 Nm/mm — an increase of 5 Nm/mm all around. The anti-roll bars have been softened to compensate and recover ride quality. The front bar’s diameter has been reduced from 28 mm to 25 mm, while the rear bar diameter is now 23 mm instead of 25.2 mm — the same as the 997 GT2. To minimize weight, the bars are hollow.
Preuninger seems particularly proud of the latest electronic stability management system in the GT3 3.8: “We think our latest PSM system is the best of its kind, especially in wet conditions. Developed in conjunction with Bosch, the latest version allows you to deactivate Stability Control and Traction Control separately. It’s very unobtrusive and makes it hard to throw the car off line on a wet track.
“As before, so long as you are smooth, you can even drift the car at a reasonable angle with the system on,” he continues. “But you can now switch it off completely and it will not come back even if you hit the brakes — so you are on your own!”
With no track to sample the GT3 on, we weren’t about to throw the new car sideways at speed. Our time with the car on German back roads and autobahns did, however, give us a good measure of the car. So, how good is it? That’s a question that must be answered in terms of how much better it is than the last GT3.
Truth be told, the new car, for all its advances, is not a huge leap forward. Areas where the last GT3 was already good have been improved by tangible degrees to match the slight improvement in power and torque. The biggest benefit is an aerodynamic one. Together with the chassis upgrades, this yields a big difference at speed — but it’s something few Americans will be able to enjoy.
In everyday road use, the overall feeling isn’t much different, apart from a better torque curve. On a fast country road or an open stretch of autobahn, though, everything comes into focus. This is Porsche progress, subtle but sure. The continued development of the GT3 has created a civilized track-day toy that, unlike its competitors, really can be driven every day. And the fact that it is now quicker at the Nürburgring than Ferrari’s best bodes well for the GT3 RS to come…