Long term test: Porsche 997 GT3 – the 30’000 km verdict
The Porsche 997 GT3 is recognized as one of the best track-oriented GT cars, but what about reliability and running costs of such a car ?
Saturday December 15th 2007 – 154 miles – Foreplay
Finding a 997 GT3 at the dawn of the model’s production looked like a lost cause. Finding one without an insane mark-up in a very tight market ? Mission impossible. Fate threw on my path this yellow item, my 996 Turbo had to go. Impossible to be picky about options, it would be the car as is or … not. Full leather (an oxymoron since the interior is stuffed with alcantara suede), adaptive and heated sport seats, a sound package “plus” which I am yet to find any evidence of, yellow seat belts to lighten up the interior, colored wheel caps and black carpets. No satnav, no PCCB, no xenon. A zen GT3, so be it.
During the first miles, the firmness of the clutch pedal struck me, a stark contrast with my Turbo, but it got softer (or my left leg got stronger) after a few dozen miles. The gearbox is very firm, but not to the ridiculous extreme of the OEM short shifter kit of my 996TT, with a short throw and a slight friction feel to it. Nice, but not as nice as the short shift option I sampled on a 997 Carrera. The adaptive seats offer very good support – at last ! – and allow to adjust the bolsters for a snug fit with my rather thin body frame. Steering wheel can be adjusted in height but not in reach.
Beyond the photographic appeal of the car, the most striking aspect is the delicate way the car hugs the road: subtle yet planted, light and grippy. The GT3 combines grace with sharpness, with a ride that is void of inertia or body roll. In the sweeping curves of route 84 from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, the December sun struggles to make its way through the pine trees, but the GT3 makes light of whatever corner configuration thrown at it. Charming and very auspicious for thousands of miles to come.
In normal mode, the PASM suspension is firm but not harsh, offering an excellent compromise between relative comfort and rigorous movement of body movements. Give it the right combination of mid corner bumps and a hint of diagonal swing surfaces, inviting to switch to the harder setting. Interestingly, the end result is at the same time less trashy as my Turbo and much better controlled too. The break in guidelines (2000 miles below 4200 rpm according to the manual) will be strictly respected, I have not crossed the 3500 rpm limit yet, but the tune played by the flat-six from 3000 rpm are the promise of a symphony on the remaining 5000 rpm till the red line. Throttle response is so instant that it borders on telepathy.
With an engine, brakes and PZero Corsa Pirellis to break in, it is much too soon to wander on a race track, but the discovery of the handling envelope is a tantalizing prospect. No doubt, this first day places the GT3 up there, quite in line with its impressive reputation.