The Gen 2 991 GT3 PDK has just had its first public hot laps around the Nürburgring and set a time 12 seconds quicker than the outgoing model. 7 mins 12.7 seconds is between 2 and 3 percent quicker than the old car, so will such a modest increase hurt sales of Gen 2s?
Autocar magazine released its first drive of the Gen 2 991 GT3 Manual earlier this week and Greg Kable was quick to point out that the Gen 2 PDK is substantially quicker on track. “But as spectacularly good as the manual version of the new Porsche 911 GT3 is – and it really is stunningly effective – I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who intends to do an intensive amount of track day running…In ultimate performance terms, the PDK model is king.” This being the case, how much slower than a Gen 1 GT3 PDK would one be around the Nürburgring in a Gen 2 Manual? And would a slower Gen 2 Manual matter?
Manual transmission matters for the emotional response to total control, or so the experts say. But how many cars would one sell with the headline: “the Gen 2 GT3 Manual is ten seconds slower than the old car around the Nürburgring, but you told us you wanted three pedals for those 1500 miles a year, so here you go”?
Manufacturers need to upgrade, renew and keep pace with the competition and find the USPs that set their latest creations apart from the old ones but, at some stage, the actual users of a thing (rather than speculators/investors/collectors or whatever the latest word is) run out of real reasons to ‘upgrade’. A two year-old iPhone 6S Plus does basically the same job as the latest one, a four year-old Macbook Pro does pretty much the same job as a new one and a 17 year-old Volkswagen Polo ticks the same ‘get from A-B’ box as a new one, so why bother with new things at all?
Of course, stuff wears out when it gets used a lot and replacements are then a necessity, but few people are wearing out Gen 1 GT3s. If the upgrade path is all about egos aching for shiny, then Porsche is mining a rich psychological seam. Stuttgart delivered just shy of 60,000 cars in Q1 2017 (another record, one imagines). To make and deliver all of these cars, the company now employs 28,249 people. Profit margins have also risen and are now running at 17.6 percent on a total revenue of €5.5 billion.
No prizes for guessing that 911 GT3s are not top of the sales charts, but they must be pretty close to the top in the league table of press coverage year-on-year. The column inches guarantee all Gen 2 GT3s will be sold, so maybe it makes little difference how quick the car is. Then again, it has to be quicker or the press won’t play ball.
If I didn’t already have a Gen 1 991 GT3 and someone offered me a Gen II build slot, I would buy the manual regardless of whether it was ten or even twenty seconds slower. But, if I already owned a Gen 1 GT3 and had to find a chunk of change to get in a manual that was slower on track? That is a different scenario.