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Which is the better GT3?

Call us biased, but the best, most engaging sports cars in the world often have badges that say “GT3” on them. From the original 996 911 GT3, to the latest 992 — there’s something magic about them all, something that only a racecar-tamed-for-the-street can deliver.

We compared the two earliest generations of GT3 — a 2004 Porsche 996 GT3, and a 2007 997 GT3 — to weigh the pros and cons of each.

The road testers consist of Jordan Remeljej — owner of Modern Aircooled, and Kevin McCauley —photographer and hopeless Porsche addict. The disagreements began immediately.

Jordan: The Porsche 996 — in total — was such a aspirational vision of the future. The 996 was the future 911, and the GT3 was their future racecar. The first GT3 — the 996 — was the purest idea of that future racecar concept. And besides, the 996 GT3 was my high school computer background for 3 years straight.

Kevin: I have fond memories of the 996 GT3, it was the first GT3 I ever drove, and it blew me away. But back-to-back with the 997 GT3, the 996 just feels more squishy. The suspension, the controls, …every interior surface. Conversely, the front end of the 997 is so firm and planted. The 997 has that direct turn-in and pointiness like a more modern 991 GT3, but in a smaller, right-sized package.

JR: The joy of the 996 is the light, delicate front end. The nose rises when you get on the power, you not only feel everything it’s doing beneath you, you see it. The 996 GT3 is more playful, and it has less of a focus on aero. The main focus was on putting that wonderful Mezger motor in the lightest possible chassis.

KM: The revised motor in the 997 just feels alive. There’s more torque everywhere, and it’s happier to rev. Overall, the 997 GT3 feels sharper and more precise, while still being livable enough for the road.

JR: The 996 motor has character! It’s smaller displacement and behaves like a motorsport engine. It sounds angry just idling before it warms up, and it’s grumpy at low revs. I love that about it.

KM: But that 996 steering wheel – why are there so many bulges?! The 997 steering wheel isn’t my favorite to look at, and the Alcantara doesn’t do much for me, but the profile and feel is so simple and perfect.

JR: I hate Alcantara, full stop. The 996 steering wheel is fine.

KM: The 997 GT3 ride quality is worse, I’ll concede that.

We were getting nowhere.

In a perfect world, you’d have both.

We may not agree, but we can just be thankful that these cars exist. The GT3 nameplate continues to push the limit of high-performance driver’s cars, and it’d be hard to go wrong with any one of them.

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