The Porsche 911 GT3 Touring is an interesting beast: a ferociously quick car that, at a quick glance, might seem to be something rather more humble. It is, in short, a full-fat 911 GT3, complete with 500 horsepower and a track-ready suspension and driveline, just lacking more egregious aerodynamic and visual appendages that identify it as a proper barnstormer.
The $146,350 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring is much more than meets the eye, and that, to me, makes it uniquely appealing.
A little context
While I love driving fast cars and quick cars and the sorts of cars that seem to defy the laws of physics, many of them have one foible that makes them somewhat unsuited for me: they draw a lot of attention. Whether it's from howling exhausts or paint colors bright enough to require OSHA stickers, many of these cars scream "look at me!" in ways that makes me feel more than a little uncomfortable.
Sure, few things give me more joy than seeing a wide-eyed kid explode with glee when I pull up to a shop in something raucous. However, I just could never see myself really living with something that draws that much attention.
This is why I was so eager to get a turn behind the wheel of the 911 GT3 with Touring Package, a flavor of the car that gives up little when it comes to performance but is capable of flying just below the radar. After a full day in the saddle, I'm happy to report that it did not disappoint.
While the GT3 Touring should certainly be classified among the most track-capable cars on the planet, it's had an edge taken off slightly, making it more suitable for duties more pedestrian but, frankly, more important. I'm talking about things like the daily commute or a grocery run or those 9pm jaunts into town when your need for ice cream finally defeats your better judgement.
It is a GT3, which means it's ludicrously quick, arriving to 60 in 3.8 seconds. At the back is the same 500-horsepower, 9,000 RPM, 4.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that is joyously bereft of turbocharging.
On the outside, while the "normal" GT3 sports a massive lip up front and a giant, fixed wing at the rear, the Touring offers somewhat more demure cladding and a flush decklid that makes it almost look like a base Carrera from behind. There is a wing, mind you, but it only flips out into the breeze when needed.
This is still a car that will turn heads, but it won't necessarily cause a double-take -- especially if you pick a sedate color like the black of the car I drove. This one also bore the six-speed manual transmission, as indeed all Touring models will, and so equipped I headed into the epic roads that meander the German countryside.
Near-perfection among imperfection
For the better part of one of the better afternoons of my life, I flogged the GT3 Touring you see here across roads that were simultaneously among the greatest and worst that Germany has to offer.
They are great because the character of the land demands they twist and dive, constantly turning back on themselves just like the epic Nurburgring that was close enough for me to hear screaming engines as I captured the photos you see here.
However, many of the roads I crossed were bumpy and broken, still recovering from the recent ending of a long winter. Such roads are rare in Germany, a country with asphalt so smooth you're often inclined to wonder why German cars have any suspension at all.
It was on these bumpy and unpredictable yet fast and engaging roads that the 911 GT3 Touring really came to life. As I gained confidence in the car's abilities I gained speed, suspension shuddering and bounding yet never becoming unsettled and never losing grip. Even on its firmer setting the damping was never unbearable and, after my time was up, I wanted nothing more than another go.
Sadly, most of us don't live near roads that good, and so for the Touring to be a valid proposition it must handle the day-to-day with equal aplomb. While it offers neither the comfort nor cargo capacity of, say, a Panamera, in my time behind the wheel I found the GT3 Touring more than livable.
The car I tested had the sports bucket seats, and while they're perhaps not the best for long highway cruising, and they make entry and egress a bit of a challenge, they're comfortable enough for daily use and purposeful enough to give you all the support you could ever want on road or track.
The lack of rear seats means you'll need to choose your passenger wisely, but the extra cargo space that affords just makes this even better for a long weekend away, preferably somewhere on the other end of a very circuitous route.
And, with the fitted Sport exhaust, you can make the 911 GT3 Touring swallow the worst of its bark at the touch of a button. And, though that flat-six produces a whopping 500 horsepower and gladly pulls all the way up to 9,000 RPM, at lower speeds it's actually quite sedate, content to idle through the many idyllic towns and villages that dot the German countryside.
The Porsche 911 GT3 Touring is not without compromises -- a base Carrera will surely be a better grand tourer or, for the same money, you can step over to the ballistic and bizarrely efficient Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. But that's a very different solution and, when the corners start to stack up and the g-forces increase, it's the GT3 Touring that will leave you breathless and yet craving more.