Slowing the new GT3 is effortless from any speed. The standard steel brakes have been upgraded with two-piece rotors all around, slightly reducing the unsprung weight at each corner (fronts up from 350mm to 380mm in diameter, and the rears remaining at 350mm). The pedal feel is bedrock hard, just like any self-respecting racecar, but is also easy to modulate at any level of pedal force. Further reductions in unsprung weight include the sexy new centerlock wheels, which combined with the new brake rotors drop 5.5 and 5.2 pounds per corner front and rear, respectively. The ceramic brake option reduces this figure again by a further 44 pounds all around, or 11 per corner, if your wallet will permit. I chose to spec this car with the standard brakes for two main reasons: 1) pedal feel (pedal travel is too long with ceramic brakes in my opinion), and 2) maintenance and replacement cost, as this car will be seeing some serious track time.
On the exterior, the legendary 911 shape is still clearly recognizable after all these years; the fresh modern skin stretches and curves with artful elegance and functional form, just as if Mother Nature had created it herself. The new design cues not only improve cooling to the engine and brakes significantly, but also increase downforce by five times at 186 mph, from 66 pounds to 220 pounds, and perfectly proportioned with 88 pounds in front and 132 pounds in the rear for optimum high-speed handling. The new rear wing is a visual sensation too, and clearly indicates to the masses that this car is ready to rumble. I also applaud the "3.8" badge of honor on the outside of each upright. Deadly cool. At the front, the spoiler lip remains a dangerous four inches from the ground, but its shape reaches further forward in a splitter-like fashion, making bumps and ramps all the more treacherous to this piece. Fortunately, you can buy replacements by the "six-pack" from Porsche.
Inside the cockpit, minor touches have improved the interior from the already upscale 997 fare. The new GT3 receives a cleaner center console and extra Alcantara trim on the door handles. I opted for the standard interior trim with manually adjusted Alcantara/leather sport seats, although I did select the smooth leather steering wheel, a no-cost option, for improved bare-hand grip over the standard Alcantara unit. I may feel the itch to go Euro with lightweight sport bucket seats and a half roll cage sometime in the near future. However, the standard sport seats are excellent for daily driving, keeping you firmly in place when the going gets twisty, and allowing you to drive in comfort for hours on end. And believe me, you'll want to.
Driving down the final meandering incline into the Red Deer River valley takes you through millions of years of late Cretaceous sediments, the medium through which wind, water, and time have carved the eerie and dramatic scenery of the western Badlands. Drumheller, population 7,932, lies at the center of the valley, and aside from its unusual setting, it seems just like any other small, sleepy town in Alberta. However, Drumheller is truly world famous for significant fossil finds in the area, its tacky dino-tourist traps, and for the modern and outstanding Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology.
Arriving at such an interesting, beautiful, and naturally historic place, especially in a Porsche 911, makes you rather reflective about time and nature, but especially evolution. The Beetle, the 356, the 911... Will the 911 continue to thrive? How and where does it go from here? We'll find out next time as the evolution continues.
Getaway to Drumheller:
Things to do and places to see
• Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
• Drive the Dinosaur Trail
• Check out Horseshoe and Horsethief Canyons
• See the Hoodoos
• Visit the BIG T-Rex
• Go to the "Little Church"
• Have lunch at Fred and Barnie's, or the Longbranch Saloon