The year 2014 still has just over a month and a half left before the calendar is spent, but R&T is getting a jump on things, already announcing their winner of 2015 Performance Car of the Year (PCOTY). The 991 GT3 faced a tough year in the awards arena this year due to the engine recall, which more than likely cost it Motor Trend’s Drivers Car of the Year award. With that whole situation sorted, however, the GT3 ran up against Ferrari’s track focused 458 Speciale, which has beat the GT3 on a number of occasions. On this test, however, and in the hands of these drivers, the GT3 was deemed the victor, and deservedly so. If Porsche’s ‘regular’ GT3 is already better than the best Ferrari can throw at it (at more than twice the price, mind you), just imagine how good the GT3 RS will be.
In order to be eligible for the competition, the car must be new for this year (presumably 2014), or feature significant changes. Unlike other competitions, there is no champions provisional, so last years winner (Corvette Z51) is not welcome, as it doesn’t meet the requirements. A total of 14 new cars were taken on the trip, including a GTi, a WRX STI, Alfa’s 4C, BMW’s M235i and M3, Chevy’s Z/28, the Hellcat, a Viper SRT TA, Ford’s new Mustang GT, Jag’s F-Type R, a Lexus RC F, Nissan’s highly evolved GT-R NISMO, and of course the aforementioned 458 Speciale and Porsche’s GT3.
The PCOTY trip started on a long road test loop through Ohio’s Hocking Hills area. The magazine, for this year, decided that the on-road characteristics were perhaps weighted slightly heavier than their track mannerisms, because most of their readers would never take their cars on track. As such, they began with all fourteen cars on the road loop for evaluation, whereas last year’s competition started on the track, and only the best 6 cars were taken for a road trip.
The testers’ comments on Porsche’s 991 GT3 in the context of the road test read something like the book jacket superlative blurbs.
“This is what a 911 should feel like”
After the road portion is done, R&T hauls all of the cars back to Michigan for a run at the “Motown Mile” test track. They admit that outright lap times aren’t really what their award is about, so when the Ferrari posts the best time, it is taken into consideration, but doesn’t garner it an automatic TKO. The GT-R and GT3 post similar lap times, just ahead of the Viper, but just behind the F-car.
Those who were cold to the GT3 on the street loop quickly warmed to the Porsche once on a track where they could open up the taps. Mr. Prince calls the Porsche “stupid easy to drive”. As other cars lose popularity, the GT3 is starting to develop a long line for next-at-bat. “In Ohio, the Porsche hinted at its raw speed, but around the Mile, it went from flirtatious to furious in the blink of an eye.”
The finalists included the Ferrari, the Mustang GT, and the GT3. Most of the R&T staffers agreed that while the GT3 was a few ticks slower than the Speciale, it was a more entertaining and engaging car to drive on track than either, and it was more refined and capable on the street than the Mustang by a landslide. On top of all of that, the GT3 was deemed to have an interior that could easily be driven cross country.
Of all fourteen drivers, it was noted, the GT3 begged the most. It was almost as if the GT3 were egging the drivers to push just a little harder, and it would lend a helping hand. Every driver, every lap, flogged the living daylights out of the 991, and it kept coming back for more like an excited little puppy. They called it ’emotion and commotion, sense and sensibility’, and that may just be the best way to describe Porsche’s GT3 yet.
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R&T’s art director, Matt Tierney was on hand for photos, and was aided by the ever talented Marc Urbano. For more on the competition, and the cars invited, check out the full story on roadandtrack.com here.