Why this is the ultimate driver’s car

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This is one of the most recognisable and desirable cars on the road, and its latest variant is a dream machine for those who love to drive.

Sound is central to the thrill of motor racing and the unofficial soundtrack of motorsport might be the Porsche 911 GT3.

You’ll hear its angry bark as every level of racing from endurance racing to amateur club meetings.

From the driver’s seat, the GT3’s 4.0-litre six-cylinder floods the cabin as it rushes toward a scarcely believable 9000rpm red-line.

Unmuffled by back seats or sound deadening material – both binned in the name of weight reduction – the GT3’s song is intense.

Porsche says a street-legal exhaust and a few lines of engine management code are the only differences between the bulletproof power plant of our “shark blue” test car and its latest racing machines.

That doesn’t feel like an idle boast as the coupe streaks beyond 250km/h, glued to the tarmac by an adjustable “swan neck” rear wing producing far more downforce than its predecessor.

Circuit-spec six-point harnesses pin you in place as perfectly weighted brakes bring the speed under control, freeing drivers from the burden of bracing against G-Forces wrought by fat track-ready rubber.

Those Michelins bite with new ferocity when you attack a corner, helped by a new double wishbone suspension copied from Porsche’s Le Mans racers. Communicative steering makes it easy to understand available grip levels and deftly correct slides when you overstep the generous boundaries of traction and stability systems.

The seventh-generation GT3 is the first with a choice of driving modes, giving drivers of all abilities a better opportunity to push to their limits, which are usually far lower than the car’s potential.

Though the GT3 is the last supercar on sale with a manual transmission, most owners prefer a near-flawless seven-speed dual-clutch auto. It’s much faster than the three-pedal version.

And the paddle-shift model’s rapid-fire gearshifts are truly ferocious.

Yes, dozens of machines best its 375kW/470Nm power figures, plenty of all-wheel-drive performance cars eclipse its 3.4 second sprint to 100km/h, and there are more than a handful of cars with higher top speeds than its 318km/h claim.

But few can approach the fizzing thrill of a 911 GT3 on track. That’s why the car attracts a lengthy waiting list.

Demand for the GT3 far outstrips supply, despite a $369,700 plus on-roads (about $398,500 drive-away) starting price that swells by a further $100,000 with optional extras.

We reckon $1000 for a lap timer is rude, and that $370 for a lighter battery is a bargain compared with the weight savings brought by a $7470 carbon fibre roof. Experience suggests $19,290 for carbon brakes isn’t necessary, but $11,250 for one-piece seats, a roll cage, racing harness and fire extinguisher is a must for track work.

It’s not cheap, but British customers who received the latest car in time for Christmas are asking double its retail price in the classifieds, and hard-worked three-year-old local examples of the outgoing model are changing hands for more than their new retail price.

We’ll note that Porsche’s three-year warranty is a couple of years shy of the five-year industry standard, and a lack of capped price servicing suggests maintenance won’t be cheap.

It’s also loud and uncompromising and you can forget about modern safety aids such as radar-guided cruise control.

Even so, there’s a good reason the 911 GT3 has a cult following among folks fortunate to own one as a trackday indulgence, or those who dare to dream.

It really is properly special to drive, delivering an intoxicating combination of speed, precision, and dynamism that translates to a near-peerless driving experience.

All accompanied by that magnificent sound.

VERDICT 4.5/5

A lot of cars claim motorsport roots but the 911 GT3 remains the benchmark link between road and track, delivering thrills few cars can match.

PORSCHE 911 GT3 VITALS

Price: About $398,500 drive-away

Engine: 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol, 375kW/470Nm

Warranty/Service: 3-year/unlimited kilometre, no capped price servicing

Safety: 6 airbags, electronic stability control, roll cage, fire extinguisher

Thirst: 12.4L/100km

Spare: Inflator kit

Cargo: 132 litres

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