Dangle the keys to a 911 GT3 before me and you’re in real danger of having your arm bitten off. Recent experience on road and track of the manual version of the latest 4.0-litre, second-gen 991 GT3 has left me with a wallet full of utterly terrifying fuel receipts and possibly permanent hearing loss from my addiction to revving it out to that frenzied 9000rpm redline as often as possible.
These two things are possibly connected.
But it’s also left me with nagging doubts that perhaps speed isn’t everything. Doubts highlighted by the revised Ford Mustang I drove shortly afterwards.
Put a GT3 on a track alongside a Mustang and the Porsche will probably do two laps to the Ford’s one. A theory I’ll happily test, if anyone’s offering. I can’t help wondering if I’d actually leave the circuit in the Mustang with a bigger grin on my face though. Because I’m coming to the realisation it may just be more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is a fast one slowly.
That sounds unfair to the Mustang, because it’s not a slow car. In definitive GT Fastback form it has a 5.0-litre V8, 446bhp and makes a helluva noise. It also does big burnouts and seems to attract near-unanimous thumbs up from everyone who sees it. A feel-good car.
In comparison the GT3 is a finely-honed piece of sporting equipment. It’s serious. It’s all geared to the final percentage point of its performance envelope and, in this sphere, it is utterly sublime. The only problem is that you spend nearly all of your time in the other 99 per cent. This isn’t all bad - in fact, it’s pretty bloody amazing. But it can also be rather frustrating.
Think about that first drink on a sunny Friday afternoon after a long week. It’s the Ice Cold In Alex moment of a perfectly chilled beer on the bar in front of you, condensation running down the outside of the glass. You lick your lips in anticipation. You lift it to your mouth and take your first sip. All is good with the world again. You put the glass down. And are then told that’s your lot and all you can now do is look at it. That’s a bit what driving a GT3 on the road is like. You’ve tasted a flat-six at 9000rpm and know it’s going to make you feel amazing. But you’ve also seen the numbers on the speedo, and realise it may well be the last time you drive a car for a very, very long time.
The Mustang is kind of the other way round. It won’t lap the Nurburgring in seven minutes whatever. It won’t see you a five-figure return when you trade it in at the dealership for the next version. But in the kind of driving you do most of the time, the burbling around town with an arm draped out of the window, the six-tenths cross-country speeds you can sensibly enjoy on an empty road - this is where the Mustang makes you realise you can have more fun in a slow car than you might in a fast one.
This isn’t about comparing power outputs, purchase price, pose value or anything like that. This is about looking at the way cars make you feel, the sensations you enjoy at the wheel and the way you can actually appreciate their talents. It’s why, just the other day, I enjoyed driving a 113bhp VW Up! GTI on its doorhandles more than lapping the same circuit at the exactly same speed in a Golf GTI Performance with 228bhp, active VAQ ‘diff’, multi-mode suspension and all the rest.
Money, talent, speed limits, good sense and track access no object, of course I’d take a GT3. And it’s entirely appropriate that Porsche and its ilk continue to push the boundaries. But I’m also glad there are new cars in the market who pitch their talents at a more accessible level.