(Bloomberg) -- On Tuesday, Porsche finally debuted the 2022 911 GT3, a car that’s had the brand’s most die-hard drivers drooling since whispers about it started last year. 

With a 502-horsepower six-cylinder engine, the GT3 lacks the 640-hp turbo-powered, all-wheel-drive punch of the 911 Turbo S—which I named the  Best Car of 2020—but it is considered far more desirable by the Porsche faithful. 

Here’s why: It’s old-school legit.

The GT3’s six cylinders are naturally aspirated rather than turbo-boosted. It comes with rear-wheel-drive rather than all-wheel-drive. Natural aspiration and rear-wheel-drive are considered to deliver a more raw, traditional, and authentic driving experience than the modern inventions of all-wheel-drive and turbocharging. 

The 911 GT3 comes standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission—but offers an optional six-speed manual transmission as well, for the ultimate Porsche you can race at the track and then comfortably drive home. Globally the take rate for manual versions of the GT3 is 30%; in the U.S. it is a whopping 70%, according to Porsche spokesman Luke Vandezande. That’s considerably more than the 20% to 25% percent of buyers who choose manual versions across the standard 911 lineup.

The numbers, says Vandezande of these buyers, “are illustrating exactly how meaningful the connection to the car associated with a manual gearbox is.” 

Still, the new GT3 reaches its fastest potential in Porsche’s Doppelkupplung (dual-clutch) mode: the automatic transmission goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds; top speed is 197 mph. (Porsche did not specify what the numbers were in manual terms.) It completed a lap at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife racetrack in Germany in 6:59.927, 17 seconds quicker than previous-generation 911 GT3—and, of course, in PDK mode. The street-legal track tires used in the run will be available as option (previously they had been reserved for 911 GT3 RS models).

The new 911 GT3 has a wider front track width than the standard 911 Carrera by nearly two inches. Its hood, rear wing, and rear spoiler underneath the wing are all made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

Eagle-eyed viewers will also notice integrated cooling intakes on the new front fascia; an adjustable front spoiler lip and adjustable front diffuser can be set in stages for track use. Special side skirts optimize airflow around the wheels; at the rear, swan-neck connections support a wing. (The rear wing is manually adjustable in stages ranging from settings intended for road use to positions intended for use only on tracks. Even in the “normal” position, aerodynamic downforce is up to 50% greater compared to the preceding 911 GT3, according to Porsche; in track-only positions that increases to 150%.)

Inside, and for the first time in a 911 GT3, the steering wheel includes a drive mode switch, which allows the driver to switch between configurable settings by simply turning the dial.

Four-way sport seats plus come standard. Eighteen-way sport seats and carbon fiber bucket seats, which save roughly 26 lbs. compared to the standard seats, are available as extra-cost options.

Lightweight, noise-insulated glass on all of the windows also aids in accomplishing the ambitious weight target of roughly 3,126 pounds for the manual GT3—near the lightest race cars from the likes of McLaren and Ferrari. So does the racing-derived leonine suspension, though you’d be hard-pressed to spot that difference with the naked eye.

Dealer deliveries of the GT3 will start in the fall. Pricing has yet to be announced.


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