No, the company is not going out of business as the title of this article might suggest, but we are in mourning nonetheless. It is the end of an era and we must say farewell to the last of a breed of sportscars, namely the Porsche 911 GT3 997. Following in the footsteps of Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini, Porsche has announced that the next GT3 will switch it's manual gearbox for an automatic transmission.
Expect the new Porsche 911 GT3 to hit North American dealerships late this year, priced at a little over $130,000 US.
At this year's Geneva Motor show, the new 911 GT3 991 was unveiled, leaving Porsche (and other super car) fans in shock. The company announced that starting in November 2013, the much loved GT3 will be sold with a paddle shifter automatic instead of manual gearbox. That's right, our favourite street legal race car is swapping it's six speed manual for a PDK dual clutch automatic.
There are a few reasons for the shift. One of the most popular upgrades has been a sequential gearbox- it seems many people often grab the wrong gear. The PDK is also faster than a hand on a shifter. With every gear shift on a manual, half of a car length is lost on acceleration. The GT3 is all about fast.
Purists are mourning the change. The 911 has always offered the least of what the Germans like to call "progress". Getting busy with a clutch pedal and shifter knob was a pure driving experience, raw and pure, analog vs digital. The clutch is the interface between man and machine. Like the others, Porsche has now traded involvement for speed.
For the first time in a production model, the 2014 also comes with active rear wheel steering. Enhancing and controlling rotation, the system either steers the rear wheels in the same or in the opposite direction of the front wheels, depending on speed. At speeds of less than 31 mph (50 km/h), rotation is enhanced while the system steers in the opposite direction of the front wheels. At speeds above 50 mph (80 km/h), the system steers parallel to the front wheels which virtually extends the wheelbase and gives greater high speed stability.
Porsche did redeem itself a little bit with some impressive stats about the new car to cushion the blow a bit. The new 3.8 litre, 475 horsepower GT3 can hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in a shocking 3.5 seconds, and 0-124 mph in 12 seconds with a top speed of 195 mph. It can rev as high as 9,000 rpm, and it even lapped the Nurburgring in a mere 7 minutes, 30 seconds, which is 12 seconds faster than it's predecessor, the 997. Curb weight is 3,152 pounds.
Regardless, we're sad about the loss of a clutch and shifter knob. Some things should never change...
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca