2018 Porsche 911 GT3 first drive review: Country roads and chicken livers

Marty Padgett

There’s one place where you can get great fried chicken livers on a Sunday morning in Georgia, before church is out. It’s a low-ceiling kind of place, tacked on to a gas station, the hallmark of fine low-priced dining across the south.

Over the first glorious spring weekend this year, I knew the fastest way to get there, not the highway route, but a snake-backed two-lane with enough kinks to merit its own DSM classification. And I had just the thing to get there.

It’s the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3, a car so blisteringly fast it set a stunning 7:12.7 lap time on the Nurburgring.

With the 911 GT3, Porsche isn’t chasing raw numbers, though. “We’re chasing a feel,” Porsche’s sports-car guru Andreas Preuninger told us last year.

How does it get there? All the usual freak flags fly with its 4.0-liter flat-6 engine. Like any other living, breathing creature, the 911 GT3 pinks up from its very first breath of air, in this case the exit ramp off GA-400.

Torque builds almost instantaneously off the line, but the GT3 is a high flyer, too. It charges up to 500 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and 339 pound-feet of torque, as it shrieks to a heady 9,000-rpm redline, served up thanks to a beefy crankshaft and connecting rods.

There’s no missing its arrival or its departure through the first and best esses off the highway. The GT3 dons two exhaust resonance flaps to generate all the sonorous sounds. Flung from crest to curve after it leaves four-lane state highway, the GT3 crackles and howls at 6,000 rpm as it rounds off 45-mph curves at nearly twice that speed.

You don’t need to flip through all its gears to extract curse words of joy, but you’ll want to. A 6-speed manual transmission weighs less (3,116 pounds versus 3,153 pounds) and sports the sports-car golden number of pedals—but Porsche’s dual-clutch gearbox comes closer to godliness. With seven forward speeds, and paddle shift controls that toggle the 911 GT3 into the frothiest and most playful part of its powerband, the PDK GT3 zaps more than a half-second off the car’s 0-60 mph time, 3.2 seconds to the manual’s 3.8 seconds.

Its top track speed stands at 197 mph with PDK, and 198 mph with the manual transmission. Sixty percent of that or more shows up on its big dial.

Graciously, Porsche sticks the 911 GT3 to the road with 245/35ZR-20s in the front, 305/30ZR-20s in the back. But it’s a host of diffusers, air blades, intakes, ram air ducts, and a rear wing 0.8 inches taller than most 911s that push the rear end harder against the earth and feed the flat-6 all the oxygen it needs to create free radicals.

You’ll never look back at the specs for those figures. You’ll never look back in the GT3 if you can avoid it; that wing cuts the world in two, and renders anything in your rear view a memory. It’s funny at first, to see other 911s and F-Types with smaller power-operated spoilers and to realize they’re not 100 percent serious. Then it’s just a little sad.