There are an awful lot of manufacturers out there talking about their motorsports heritage and how their current sports car is really a “racecar for the streets.” When you dig down into it, it’s all smoke and mirrors. Sure, their racecar might use the stock engine block or the headlights from the street model, but when it comes down to it that’s as deep as the connection goes. Porsche, however, is one of only a very few manufacturers that can directly make the connection between its factory racecars and their street equivalents. The 911 GT3, all-new for 2022, is the perfect example of that.
While there are a lot of upgrades to unpack with the 992-generation GT3, the biggest (in my mind, anyway) is the new double-wishbone front suspension design, lifted directly from Porsche’s RSR racecars. Porsche has traditionally used a MacPherson strut front suspension, but that layout has substantial inherent weaknesses, the Achilles’ heel for the 911 line. There have been a few specialty cars that have used a double-wishbone suspension (notably the 959 and GT1) but the 2022 GT3 is the first “consumer” 911 to use it. And ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.
The primary weakness of a MacPherson strut suspension is that the strut carries a large part of the lateral load during cornering. As the load increases on the suspension through a corner, the strut flexes in the opposite direction, causing a loss of camber just at the point where it is most needed.
This is why you see racecars running extreme camber angles. It’s so that when the car loads up in the corner, the wheel (and hence the tire contact patch) goes from extreme camber (negative 4 degrees or more) to 0 degrees, giving the tire the largest contact with the track surface. Additionally, when the strut flexes under load, it also binds, meaning it is not working as efficiently and handling suffers as a consequence.
For my test, Porsche handed me the keys to a Shark Blue (a $4,220 option) GT3 and pointed me in the direction of Angeles Crest Highway, one of many great driving roads just outside Los Angeles. The road, which winds its way through the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Angeles National Forest, is a mixture of slow and medium-speed corners with varying degrees of surface imperfections. A perfect playground to test out what Porsche’s mad scientists have created.
Within seconds of reaching Angeles Crest, I was already comparing the new GT3 to the last-gen GT3 RS. Fortunately, the last 911 I drove was in fact the 991.2 GT3 RS at Road America so I had that (somewhat) fresh in my mind. The thing that stood out about the RS was how quickly the front end responded to steering inputs. A large part of that was due to the RS’s rear-axle steering (which can turn the rear wheels up to two degrees in the same or opposite direction as the front wheels, depending on the speed) and extensive use of solid bushings (both of features now come standard on the GT3 for the first time).
But the RS was still lacking a bit in mid-corner grip at the front end. This presents itself as a slightly vague, imprecise feeling in the steering wheel when the car is loaded up mid-corner. This makes it a bit difficult to put the car exactly where you want it to go as you are always waiting for the front to make up its mind where exactly it was going to go and when it was going to take a set. Precisely what you would expect from a MacPherson strut car — and precisely what the new suspension in the GT3 is designed to eliminate.
The 992 GT3 combines the super quick, precise turn-in of the 991.2 GT3RS with the mid-corner grip levels of…well, very few roadgoing cars I have ever driven. In fact, the grip level was so high that I actually stepped out of the car to check if my car was spec’ed with the newly available (for the GT3) optional Michelin Cup 2R tires and not the regular Cup 2 rubber. (It wasn’t.) It’s that good.
The GT3’s new suspension setup let me to put the nose of the car exactly where I wanted to in the corner and it stayed on that line every single time. A surprise decreasing-radius corner? No problem, just a small adjustment on the wheel and I’m back on the perfect line. Bits of gravel in the road that make the car slide a bit wider than expected? Same thing. Small adjustment and back on line.
Telepathic is a much overused word by journalists when it comes to describing a car’s handling. I’m sorry, but I really can’t think of a better word. My eyes saw the line I wanted to take through the corner, I turned the steering wheel to follow that line, and the car followed. If that’s not telepathic, I don’t know what it is.
The fact that I’ve used the first several paragraphs of this post to talk about how good the handling is shouldn’t detract from, nor overshadow, all of the rest of the upgrades that Porsche has bestowed on this car.
Of all of the things on the list, the next most important, in my mind, is aero. The 2022 GT3 has all the aero. (Actually, 854 pounds of downforce with all settings — wing and front/rear diffusers — maxed).
Starting at the rear, the newly developed diffuser can produce four times as much downforce as the one fitted to the previous generation GT3. Part of the reason for this substantial increase is that the entire underbody of the GT3 is now completely covered, which creates a flat floor that smooths the airflow under the car and maximizes the efficiency of the diffuser.
Continuing with the racecar theme, the “swan-neck” mounts for the rear wing also produce the same effect as the fully covered underbody. This design lets air flow more freely under the rear wing, helping the new GT3 to generate around 50 percent more downforce than its predecessor on the standard setting and up to 150 percent more in the (track only) performance setting.
Moving around to the front, manually adjustable front diffusers reap the same increases in downforce as the rear, with downforce increasing by 50 percent to 150 percent over its predecessor. But while the invisible (unless you’ve got the car on a lift) front diffusers contribute a substantial amount to the increased front downforce, the most visible changes are to the hood and front bumper.
The lower front bumper now sports massive openings which suck in a huge amount of air and direct it to the front brakes and radiators. The air that is directed through the radiators is expelled through two ducts in the hood. These ducts help to improve the airflow through the car, which increases cooling efficiency while at the same time reducing aerodynamic lift on the front end. While necessary for performance, the openings at the front of the car do detract from the classic GT3 styling.
The two ducts in the hood look a bit ungainly and are certainly not as well-integrated as the NACA ducts on the 991.2 GT3 RS. Also, the entire lower front facia is black, not body color, which completely changes the way the front end of the car looks, making the nose look far more angular from certain perspectives. Not bad necessarily, but also not as elegant as the last-gen GT3.
While the exterior may be a bit of a…departure, the new GT3’s interior is all classic Porsche. The most notable change/upgrade is the new, dual 7-inch TFT displays flanking the hallmark 911 analog tachometer. These new screens offer a wealth of information in their various modes and are so clear and sharp that I actually had to check to see if the tach was indeed analog or if it was part of the display.
The only issue I had with the TFT displays was that a fair portion of the far sides of each display were totally obscured by the 360-millimeter diameter multifunction sport steering wheel. And when I say totally, I mean totally. The only way to see either screen is to remove your hand and look around the side of the wheel. Fortunately, those screens hold only semi-important information (time, date and fuel gauge) and the most important bits were easily viewable.
My test car was equipped with the carbon fiber full bucket seats, a $5,900 option. The seats have a high side bolster and are incredibly supportive, which is definitely appreciated given the GT3’s newfound lateral grip. My only gripe (and it’s a small one) is that the full bucket seats aren’t adjustable other than height and fore and aft positions.
The seats generally fit me but weren’t as comfortable as I would’ve liked for the four-plus hours I spent in the car. The other issue (OK, I guess I have two gripes) is the high/hard side bolsters make it a little more difficult for us bigger guys to enter and exit the car, with the bolster being placed exactly in the way if you have to go in butt-first. If you’re planning on dailying your GT3, the 18-way adjustable adaptive seats might be a better fit, though you’ll pick up at least 26 extra pounds over the carbon seats if you make that choice.
With the changes everywhere else it’s easy to overlook the upgrades made to the 4.0-liter flat-six power plant stuffed in the derrière. OK, I’m lying, there is absolutely no way you can overlook something that puts out 502 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque, revs to 9,000 rpm and sounds identical to its RSR sibling on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans.
This has got to be one of the most enjoyable motors Porsche has ever produced. In fact, it is so good that Porsche made almost no changes before putting it in the GT3 Cup Car. That’s right, the motor in Porsche’s most ubiquitous racecar is basically the heart of the GT3 street car.
And it sounds like it, too. On Angeles Crest Highway in second gear, at very legal speeds, the GT3 sounds as if I am pushing ten-tenths, even though in reality I’m stuck behind a forest service truck. In fact, while still stuck in traffic I passed a stationary police SUV on the side of the road. The officer clearly heard the GT3 coming and gave me the evil eye as I passed, but realized that as I was barely doing the speed limit, she had to let me continue.
In addition to the sound, the big motor is tractable everywhere. It’s got such a wide powerband that I never needed anything more than second and third gear for most of the day.
And that’s unfortunate because Porsche’s newly developed seven-speed PDK gearbox (removing the 8th gear from the standard box saves 44 pounds) is a great complement to the engine. Superfast and ultra-smooth gear changes, using either the paddles behind the wheel or the new “stick shift” lever, mean that you can grab an up- or downshift at any point, with virtually no interruption in power to upset the car.
The PDK gearbox was the only one available for me to drive, and as much as I enjoyed it I probably would’ve chosen the manual transmission based on how much I have enjoyed other 911 manuals. While the PDK is undoubtedly faster and easier to drive, Porsche manual gearboxes are far more engaging and enjoyable. That’s also probably why the take rate on the manual is as much as 70 percent for the GT3.
As I broke free of traffic I was able to push and start testing the limits of the GT3. The harder I pushed the more the car came alive beneath me. After spending almost four hours running up and down Angeles Crest, I can easily see how the new GT3 is quicker than the last-gen RS around the Nürburgring (6:55.2 to 6:56.04 for the RS). Everything worked in sync to make it one of the most enjoyable street drives I’ve ever had.
One of my favorite things about driving a new generation car is Porsche’s philosophy of incrementally improving everything. It’s the same philosophy we use in motorsports.
There’s no single holy grail that makes the new generation car better than the old one. It’s the engineers taking a look at every single thing and seeing what areas they can still improve upon. It’s the end result of all of those incremental upgrades that makes this car so impressive.
The 2022 GT3 is one of the best modern sports cars you can drive today. Are there other supercars that can challenge the GT3 on pure pace? Sure. But for pure fun and engagement, the GT3 is in a class by itself. It’s a near-perfect balance between racecar levels of performance and street model levels of livability. With a base price of $161,100, it’s not for everybody, but if you have the money, then the 2022 GT3 is well worth your attention.
This 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 starts at $161,100 before you get to the pricey equipment options. On the car I drove, that includes $4,220 for the Shark Blue paint, leather and Race-Tex interior in black with Shark Blue stitching for $6,230, a 23.7 gallon option extended fuel tank for $230, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) with yellow calipers for $9,210, a $3,670 front axle lift system, 20- and 21-inch wheels painted in satin black with outer lip in Shark Blue charging $1,950, Shark Blue LED headlight accent system that costs $1,630, $580 for ambient lighting, $5,900 for the bucket seating, and a $1,350 delivery and handling charge. The total came out on paper to $196,070.