Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The Porsche 911 GT3 has been around since 1999 in an assortment of variations, winning championship and endurance races like the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours Nürburgring. The most recent iteration -- the 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS -- debuted at the Geneva International Motor Show in 2015 and has even more impressive performance than the last version of the GT3.
Equipped with what Porsche claims is the maximum amount of street-legal motorsport technology, the GT3 RS has a zero-to-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds and can lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes, 20 seconds. Powered by a six-cylinder engine with 500 horsepower, the GT3 RS provides drivers with higher driving dynamics through features like a specially developed PDK dual-clutch transmission, rear-axle steering, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus, and the widest tires of any. The car's body -- based off the -- is 22 pounds lighter than its predecessor and has a roof made of magnesium, which lowers the car's center of gravity to improve lateral dynamics.
An optional Sport Chrono Package features integrated timers and a Track Precision app, which automatically measures times via GPS and logs data about driving parameters to a smartphone so drivers can share and compare their results. While the GT3 RS -- which had a starting price of $175,900 -- reportedly is sold out, a new version of the GT3 has been spotted in testing and could hit dealers as soon as next year.
Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo
Developed by Lamborghini's Squadra Corse team in conjunction with chassis manufacturer Dallara Automobili, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo was unveiled in 2014 for all three of the automaker's Super Trofeo Series races. Building on the, the rear-wheel-drive LP 620-2 is outfitted with a V-10 direct-injection engine that delivers 620 hp, Pirelli tires, Brembo Racing brakes and a lightweight roll cage that improves torsional stiffness.
Aerodynamics have been improved, particularly by a giant rear wing with 10 different settings. The car's electronics have also been developed specifically for racing, with a MOTEC M182 control unit for data, gear changes, and the dashboard display.
The Bosch Motorsport ABS system, which is controlled via the steering wheel, has 12 different settings for changing weather and track conditions. The LP 620-2 Super Trofeo started its competition season on April 22 and will be performing in Super Trofeo races all summer. If you want to get in on the action, the racecar's pricing starts at $325,000.
Acura NSX GT3
Acura has ditched the NSX's hybrid-motor, all-wheel-drive system so it can hit the FIA GT3 race track this fall. The Acura NSX GT3 racecar debuted earlier this year at the New York International Auto Show; it will feature a 3.5-liter twin turbocharged DOHC V-6 engine; rear-wheel drive; and a 6-speed, sequential-shift racing gearbox.
While Acura is keeping the production NSX's lightweight body and frame, the GT3 version will feature custom bodywork and aerodynamic enhancements like a big deck-wing spoiler and enlarged hood vents to help cool the engine.
The NSX GT3 is currently undergoing testing by Honda Performance Development in California and pending regulatory approval as an FIA GT3 class racecar. Full performance stats and pricing information have yet to be announced, but we look forward to seeing the GT3's upcoming track debut.
Ferrari 488 GT3 and GTE
The Ferrari 488 GT3 and GTE -- new racing versions of its 488 GTB -- were unveiled at the Finali Mondiali event at Italy's Mugello Circuit last November. The 660 hp GTB has already won an abundance of awards for being at the top of its class, including Robb Report UK's "Supercar of the Year," thanks to its immense performance and driving experience.
While performance specs of the new GT3 and GTE versions have yet to be announced, they feature the same twin-turbocharged V-8 engine from the GTB, so performance on the track should be impressive. The cars have already debuted on tracks this year, including races in Australia, Japan, and Long Beach, California -- and they are scheduled to compete in more.
While the 488 GT3 and GTE are not yet officially for sale, the 488 GTB road car starts at around $275,000 -- so if you are desperate to get your hands on one of these racing versions, expect to go from there.
McLaren 650S GT3
The McLaren 650S GT3 had quite the racing resume last year -- winning contests on each of the four continents where it competed -- and it looks to be continuing that streak with wins this year at the Bathurst 12 Hour, Australian Grand Prix and the Pirelli World Challenge.
The GT3, which improves on the 650S road car in terms of aerodynamics and safety, has a new carbon-fiber fixed rear wing, wider track tires, and a new Formula 1-inspired steering wheel. The GT3's upgraded V-8 twin-turbo engine is paired with a six-speed transmission, controlled through steering-wheel paddles. The racecar has also been improved compared to its racing predecessor -- the 12C GT3 -- with a redesigned roll cage to increase legroom and headroom, along with better driver ventilation and new lightweight carbon-fiber bodywork.
The limited-edition 650S GT3 is priced at around $370,600 and is on pace to continue its competitive performance in the 2016 racing season.
Audi R8 LMS GT3
While the Audi R8 LMS racecar shares around 50 percent of its components with the regular production version, this is no run-of-the-mill track car. Since its debut in 2009, it has racked up nearly 200 victories and more than 20 championship titles.
This year, it won its global race debut at the Nürburgring 24 Hours and its US debut at the IMSA 24-hour classic, among other victories. Powered by a 5.2-liter V-10 engine that is nearly identical to the one in the series-production, the 585 hp GT3 car has been outfitted with a safety cage and an outer shell made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics for weight savings.
While the R8 LMS is busy competing in the 2016 racing season, it will become available to customers at a price reported to start around $440,000.
Aston Martin Vantage GT8
Aston Martin wants its customers to experience a true racecar for themselves, which is what they had in mind when creating the Aston Martin Vantage GT8.
Inspired by the V8 Vantage GTE racecar, the GT8 is the lightest V8 Vantage to date, thanks to weight-savings measures like the carbon-fiber roof, bumpers, sport seats, and door panels, as well as other lightweight components throughout the vehicle. The GT8 is also the most powerful V8 Vantage yet, with a 4.7-liter V-8 engine combined with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed Sportshift transmission. An optional Aero Pack adds a large rear wing and extra elements to the front splitter.
Despite all the racing changes, the GT8 still maintains features like air conditioning and an infotainment system so drivers can enjoy the vehicle off the track as well. Only 150 examples -- starting around $240,000 -- will be produced, and deliveries will begin later this year.
According to Mercedes-AMG, their GT sports car is already the ideal base for a GT3 racing model because of its proportions and weight distribution, so it is no wonder the automaker has used that as the base for its new GT3 racecar.
Composed from a large proportion of weight-saving carbon fiber, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has an appearance to match its mean performance chops, including a "shark nose" and new "Panamericana" radiator grille, which is inspired by the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL that won the famous La Carrera Panamericana endurance race across Mexico in 1952.
While the cockpit layout is nearly identical to the road version of the GT, controls on the steering wheel can be used to activate a two-way radio, a headlamp flasher, or drink function. The digital display unit also provides information like lap times, operating temperatures, and engine speed. The 6.2-liter V-8 engine is taken from the SLS AMG GT3, this car's predecessor.
Nissan GT-R Nismo
Introduced for the 2015 model year, the Nissan GT-R Nismo is the automaker's top-of-the-line performer and what Nissan calls a "racecar in street clothing." The 3.8-liter V-6 engine achieves 600 hp -- an increase of 55 hp over the standard-- and benefits from aerodynamic elements to increase downforce, like the carbon fiber trunk lid, spoiler and bumpers.
The GT-R Nismo is available with options like an aero package and a titanium exhaust system, which increases weight savings and delivers a unique sound. Inside, paddle shifters on the racing-style Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel control the six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The instrument panel even features a display created in collaboration with Polyphony Digital, the makers of the Gran Turismo video game.
With a starting price of just under $150,000, this may be one of the most accessible cars on this list -- although it is only available in very limited numbers in North America.
BMW M6 GT3
BMW has decided to switch it up for the 2016 racing season by replacing the outgoing Z4 GT3 with the new BMW M6 GT3, based on the. After undergoing testing last year, the M6 GT3 made its first North American appearance at the United SportsCar Championship last June and recently achieved its first podium finish, winning second place at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.
Powered by a 4.4-liter V-8 M TwinPower Turbo engine, the M6 GT3 achieves 585 hp and has an exterior completely composed of carbon fiber. The car's new aerodynamic features -- including the splitter, diffuser, and rear wing -- have been optimized in BMW's wind tunnel to comply with GT3 regulations.
Driver safety has been improved via a new FIA-approved safety cage and a driver's seat positioned toward the center of the car, as well as easily accessible controls.
The M6 GT3 became available for orders in late 2015 at a starting price of nearly $430,000, and we look forward to seeing how it continues to compete in races this year.
-- Lindsay Bjerregaard