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2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring first drive review: Pretty much perfect

The 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 is one of the world's best sports cars, and going wingless makes it a little more special.

2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring
The 911's iconic shape is so much better without a wing.
Jonathan Harper/Roadshow

Every conversation about the Porsche 911 GT3 Touring ends up centering around one question: Wing or no wing? But honestly, there's no wrong answer. The two 992 GT3 models are mechanically identical, with the same performance stats and $162,450 starting price. Which one you like best is solely based on aesthetics. No matter what, you're getting a hell of a car.

Me? I'm fully on team Touring. Going this route unlocks an additional level of customization not available on the winged car (unless you go the Porsche Exclusive route, of course). The standard GT3 has a black interior with Alcantara suede accents, though you can add GT Silver, Guards Red or Shark Blue contrast stitching for a teeny-tiny touch of personality. The Touring, meanwhile, will be available with around 15 two-tone leather schemes, fabric seat inserts and optional embossed trim. Go wild.

Black is still the Touring's base interior color, covering the dashboard, the upper parts of the doors, the steering wheel, center console and floor liner. But the seats, door cards, rear compartment sides and all the contrast stitching can be done up in all those optional colors, which include a few reds, several blues, some beige tones, a couple of greens and even a rich brown or two. Porsche says the decision to expand its standard leather catalog was easy, since so many of the 991.2-generation GT3 Touring customers opted to eschew the basic black for something way more interesting. Now, many 992 buyers won't have to go through the whole Exclusive process to add a splash of color. And if you read that and still opt for all black, I'm sorry, you're boring and I can't help you.

Oh look, a manual transmission.

Jonathan Harper/Roadshow

The other reason I'm pro-Touring is obvious: The 911's iconic silhouette is best left uninterrupted. Cool as the GT3's swan neck wing is, it's also a lot, all brutal and sharp, like the world's least-inviting park bench. Yes, it does have a functional purpose, but not one you'll notice on a public road. Porsche tells me the wing's aerodynamic benefit doesn't make a meaningful difference at legal speeds, so unless hella-fast track days or autobahn blasting are in your future, the thing is mostly for appearance's sake.

The Touring isn't totally wingless, however; it has the same retractable spoiler you'll find on a 911 Carrera. But on the Touring, the rear flap flips up at 49 mph, which is sooner than the Carrera's, and it extends slightly higher for a larger aperture. If I'm being picky, I also hate the way the standard 911's wing looks when it's up, but it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make for how great this car looks when the spoiler is retracted. My ideal solution would actually be to use the normal GT3's hatch with its cute little fixed ducktail and not have any active aero at all, but I'm sure Porsche engineers have a whole list of reasons why that's simply not possible and why I'm dumb for even suggesting such a thing.

Other Touring-specific differences include a mesh cover for the engine's air intake with a GT3 Touring emblem, the removal of the GT3 script from the rear bumper and metallic trim around the headlights and side glass. The lower front fascia is also painted to match the rest of the body, unlike the piece on the standard GT3, which is black regardless of exterior color. It's a much more cohesive look, even if I still don't like the little nostril vents at the tip of the sloping hood.

Jonathan Harper/Roadshow

In every other regard, the two 911s are identical, from the double-wishbone suspension up front to the pronounced diffuser out back. The fantastic 4.0-liter flat-6 engine cranks out the same 502 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque, and you can still rev the bejesus out of it until you smooch that 9,000-rpm redline. Unlike the last-generation GT3 Touring, which was only available with a manual transmission, you can now spec Porsche's seven-speed PDK dual-clutch 'box as a no-cost option, which shaves half a second off the coupe's 0-to-60-mph time, for a scant 3.2-second run.

I can understand going PDK if you're a track rat chasing lap times, but I'd be remiss not to order the Touring with the sweet, sweet six-speed manual. What you lose in outright quickness (0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds) you get back tenfold in driver involvement. There is something so satisfying about the perfect sync of right arm and left leg as you quickly upshift from second to third, just as the tach touches that backlit number 9. The manual gearbox is doubly as enjoyable on the way back down, too, with well-spaced pedals for heel-and-toe shifting, or Porsche's great auto rev-matching tech, which purists bemoan but I use all the time.

The gear lever itself is nice and thick, and it's actually the same one you get in a PDK GT3. I will admit finding a slight disconnect with this shifter, like it's missing a bit of its mechanical linkage. Said another way, it's less satisfying than the stick in a 718 Cayman GTS or GT4, but not so much that I'd even consider buying a GT3 without it.

Seriously, how good is Gentian Blue with gold wheels?

Jonathan Harper/Roadshow

Besides, good on Porsche for continuing to offer a manual in the Touring, especially since three-pedal cars account for roughly 70% of all GT3 sales in the US. Oh, and extra big kudos to Porsche for figuring out a workaround for California's outdated vehicle code, which almost kept manual GT3s from being sold in the Golden State altogether. Yikes.

The Touring weighs the same as a standard GT3 -- 3,126 pounds with the stick -- which makes it 228 pounds lighter than a base 911 Carrera. The engine's power and ferocity on its own are enough to make this car total dynamite on a winding road, but add in a street-legal version of the 911 RSR race car's front suspension, rear-axle steering, a wide front track and insanely grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (with 315-section rears) and, well, god damn.

I can feel every pebble and every crack beneath the tires, but nothing can upset the GT3's balance. The steering wheel feels alive in my hands and the chassis sends crystal clear signals up my spine. Would-be pucker moments involving mid-corner ruts and undulations are hardly a match for the sophisticated suspension, and I keep flashing back to my first drive of the standard GT3, reminding myself to brake later when diving into turns, letting the chassis and tires do their thing.

I could do this forever.

Jonathan Harper/Roadshow

Over hours of driving covering hundreds of miles, there's never a sense that the Touring wants me to let up. Of course, it's also pretty loud inside, so if it's proper long-distance grand touring you're after, a more comfortable car like a 911 Turbo is arguably the way to go.

Compromises are few and far between, and none of them are specific to the Touring. My car is equipped with the standard steel stoppers, and while there's nothing wrong with them per se, I do miss the strong initial bite of the optional carbon ceramic brakes -- even if they do cost an eye-watering $9,210. Beyond that, you can't get the GT3 with many of the 911's advanced driver-assistance systems. It does, however, come with the updated version of Porsche's infotainment tech, which finally includes Android Auto.

The GT3 is one of Porsche's all-time greatest sports cars and the Touring doesn't sacrifice an ounce of that thrill. Wing or no wing, you truly can't go wrong.