Porsche 911 GT3 doesn’t care about lap times–and that’s the way it’s supposed to be

In a hypothetical bar, over hypothetical drinks between hypothetical friends, Porsche’s director for its GT model line, Andreas Preuninger, imagines a hypothetical conversation about hypothetical numbers.

“People are discussing lap times that they can never achieve themselves over a beer,” Preuninger said. His tone reflected less interest than a checking account.

The 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 lives in reality—not lap times—and it’s a good thing, he insisted.

“We’re chasing a feel. We want to address the car’s driver’s attributes. Our experience is to have the best lap times—to be very competitive—with certain models. But we shouldn’t forget the driver’s side of everything,” Preuninger said.

That approach adds context to the 6-speed manual making its return to the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3. It also adds subtext to the car’s refresh, which made its local debut at the 2017 New York auto show on last week.

2018 Porsche 911 GT3

2018 Porsche 911 GT3

“The car has to give confidence to the driver to push his own limit safely. To set up a car that way, you will get a rewarding car. There are some cars that can only be driven in a special way that mostly only professionals can do and this not what we’re looking for in GT3,” he said.

Despite sitting atop the 911 range—for now—the new GT3 was designed to be more approachable and progressive than some may be expecting, Preuninger admitted. That’s not to say that a car with 500 horsepower, 339 pound-feet of torque, and sub-4 second 0-to-60 mph times is slow—but those numbers live in a place left for bar bets between friends, he said.

“The car will never bite you. You can lean hard on the car without it making any unwanted moves. It’s not a boring car—there’s no understeer—but it’s also forgiving,” he said.

To get the qualitative feeling, Preuninger admitted that there was a quantitative effort to nail the small details.

The engine’s iron-based cylinder coating was patented by Porsche for its extreme low-friction qualities and efficiency. Preuninger won’t discuss many details—other than it’s not a ceramic compound—because it’s a direct link to Porsche’s race program.

“It’s very effective, let’s put it like that,” he said.

He stops at that because he doesn’t want the GT3 to be about cylinder coating.

“A coating of a cylinder wall is maybe not the primary reason that someone buys the car. So it’s a small fragment of a huge modification program—and this is just part of it. Just a fragment in a big puzzle,” he said.

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