In my eyes, Porsche has been on a roll lately just turning the dial on certain models just a bit. Does the Carrera S need to be turned to 11? Yes, of course, so we have the Carrera GTS. Could the GT3 benefit from being dialed back to 9.5? Again, yes. The new GT3 Touring fills that niche beautifully. When I first saw the GT3 Touring, I was a little put-off by it. A GT3 without a wing almost seems wrong, though that was offset by how much I like the standard interior in the Touring. The Touring shares the GT3's naturally aspirated engine, and is only available with a 6-speed manual as a nod towards driver involvement rather than all out performance.
Rest assured, it will still perform.
But, it all seems a little too familiar. Didn't Porsche just make a 911 with the GT3's naturally aspirated engine, a 6-speed manual, and no giant rear wing? Didn't the press go nuts over it? Didn't collectors? Didn't Chris Harris just compare that car to a Peugeot 205 Rallye? Didn't Jethro Bovingdon like the new GT3 better than this car?
I'm referring, of course, to the 911 R. Like the GT3 Touring it produces 500 naturally aspirated horsepower. There is no two foot tall rear wing. The cabin of that car is free of alcantara, like the Touring, and the seat centers are cloth. Both models are meant to be road cars first, and track cars second.
Of course, the R features carbon fiber fenders and a carbon fiber hood, as well as a magnesium roof. The Touring does not have these things, and as such it outweighs the R by just under 100 pounds. The Touring does have rear wheel steering and the updated 991.2 chassis, however.
While both cars produce 500 horsepower, the engine in the Touring is substantially updated, with less internal friction for improved efficiency. Reviewers have said that the new engine offers better torque delivery and a punchier midrange than the old engine. I have not yet driven the 911 R or the new GT3, so Porsche will need to send one of each to me so I can support this claim with more authority.
What I'm trying to say, is that while Porsche didn't make the R obsolete, they may have made a better car, and hopefully one that gets used, rather than squirreled away in private collections as the value rises and rises. With collectors clamboring for the R, which I suspect they will continue to do as it is a very special car, Porsche has made a $143k car that offers virtually all of the same positive attributes.
While the R badge carries significant weight in the Porsche world, weight that is probably inversely proportional to the mass shed by the cars themselves, "Touring" comes with no small amount of clout. The 2.7 RS Touring is still a magnificent piece of Porsche history to recall. While the Lightweight gets more press, the Touring was still a very serious sports car. Tell me, would you kick a classic Touring out of your garage over a couple pounds?
This brings me back to my original quibbles with the Touring. Sure, a 911 GT3 with no rear wing feels wrong at first, but I cannot complain about Porsche offering another non-turbo 911 variant. At $143k, the Touring and the more ostentatious GT3 share a price tag, and Porsche has not indicated that this will be a limited run. This is a very good thing.
While the 911 R was a wonderful expression of the 911's history, and the current model's connection to past 911s, its limited run nature pushed prices beyond reason very quickly. Unfortunately, every jump in price means that less and less road is going to pass under their wheels. I think that's tragic, though the GT3 Touring gives me hope.
While this is probably a pipe dream, I want every GT3 Touring owner to take to heart that they own something extremely special, though not necessarily precious. I want to see Tourings in the wild doing what the name implies. Carve canyons, visit exciting places, and show the world why a 9,000 RPM flat six is something you need in your life.