A few people had asked me for a comparison of my new GT3 to the C2S I had for about 5,000 miles. I know there aren’t many that have had the privilege to see a 991 GT3 in person let alone drive one, so I decided to do what I always do and give you a bunch more than you bargained for. Before you read too far into this comparison, understand that my viewpoint is that of a regular guy that is driving around town and hitting some FL back roads with my cars. I completely understand I will never reach the limits of the capability of any of my cars this way. The opinions and observations that I have are based on this set of circumstances. I’m not claiming to be an expert, just a dude that loves awesome cars.
Let me give you the back-story. Like most Porsche lovers, my pursuit began many years ago as a young boy. I’ve always wanted a 911. For some reason, I just don’t have a Ferrari of Lamborghini desire. I appreciate them, but the 911 is my pinnacle. In late 2013, my financial planner brain decided I was able to comfortably afford to get the car I’d always been dreaming about, a 911!
In September of 2013, I decided to pre-trade my beloved Le Mans Blue E92 M3. This would make room for a White 991 C2S. It seemed to be the natural progressive step in “car guy” evolution, Civic Si to S2000 to M3 to C2S to GT3 to GT3 RS.
I spent probably a hundred hours on the Porsche.com Configurator. I tend to be very analytical and usually have little problem making quick, well-thought-out decisions, but with the massive option list, it still took me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted. For the C2S, I had created 3 machinations of the car. An inexpensive, performance focused option, an everything I wanted/money no object option, and a “baby GT3″ option with a manual transmission and Carrera S Powerkit. After ordering the inexpensive (relative), performance focused option, I panicked the day of my build locking and created a hybrid of everything I wanted plus the Powerkit less some of the interior frills like deviated stitching.
When posting up my final build on the forums, I got questions and comments like this, “Dude, why not just get a GT3?” or “Hey stupid, your C2S is $135,000. You could get a GT3!” Now don’t get me wrong, I very much wanted a GT3, but there was one small problem. Yelling…I COULDN’T GET ONE! They weren’t available to a nobody like me, and I certainly wasn’t interested in paying $25,000 above sticker. So naturally, I did what every GT3 wanna-be does, I started to justify why a C2S was better for me. It has a back seat, more comfortable, more practical, better gas mileage, the GT3 is too stiff, 7MT, GT3 garners too much attention…and on…and on…
Six months later I took delivery of my newly beloved 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera S! It had it everything I could ever want and something extra special that showed up a little later into my short ownership story. Here is the spec:
Platinum Satin Carrera S Wheels
Black PDLS Headlights
X51 Carrera S Powerkit
Sport Design Side Mirrors, Front Fascia, Steering Wheel
Leather Interior in Black with 4-Way Sport Seats Plus
Headlight Cleaning System Cover Painted in Exterior Color
PASM Sport Suspension
Instrument Dials in Black
It was perfect! For those that have followed my C2S Journal, I think it was obvious that I’m wound toward the obsessive side of sane and was very much in love with my new car. It was awesome and everything I’d ever wanted. Well, it was until the nightmare began. Now I’m a younger, relatively successful guy, but let’s just say I didn’t pay cash for the C2S. This car hadn’t changed my lifestyle. But at six figures plus, I was very mindful of and took very good care of the car. I didn’t park it next to people. I was ever thinking of where I took it. I had planned on keeping the car for a while, 3, 4, or maybe 5 years to be replaced with another 911. Remember, this has been my life’s pursuit. I grew up in a trailer park for gosh’s sake, so I respect the value of a buck. I mention these details so that you understand the impact a problem with my car would have on me.
The nightmare started as what I thought to be a shimmy due to dropping a wheel weight. The car seemed to shake on the highway when I rolled on the throttle. I have a tendency to be a car hypochondriac, but I thought, “No big deal, I’ll get it looked at soon.” I don’t spend much time on the highway anyway and thought for sure Porsche would get it fixed. Well, the shimmy started showing up in lower gears while rolling on the throttle on regular roads. Then the shimmy turned into more of a stumble or hesitation. It grew progressively worse. It stumbled bad enough that I was nervous I wouldn’t make it back from Cars and Coffee one morning.
I took it in the next day to have the car “fixed.” I was very calm and assumed I had a bad differential, a bent wheel, or something fixable. I test drove the car with my tech. He gave me that “look.” You know, the one of the customer is always right but will make fun of when having lunch with his buddies. They kept the car for a few hours, said they checked everything, and stated it was operating normally.
I then started to do some research. I’m not sure how I had missed it (probably the excitement of getting my new car), but there was a thread on 6speedonline.com with “Hesitation and Stumble” in the title. I clicked on it and began reading. I thought to myself, “Yep that’s exactly what I have.” It was like I was reading a WebMD article about some ailment I was self diagnosing because the doctor thought I was crazy.
It was at that moment that I decided: what better person than an OCD plagued, engineering type to start a crusade with Porsche? I was motivated and all in. I began compiling all of the data from Rennlist and 6speed. I had printed out a few hundred pages and highlighted possible solutions. I called and spoke to the dealer I bought my car and explained my concerns to the Service and Sales managers. They made a special appointment for me to come in. So I showed up with my thick folder of highlighted content with a perfect explanation of the stumble. I get to the dealer, take a drive with the Service Manager, and he basically says he’ll do what he can, but his hands are tied. I asked him to look at my folder. He said in so many words that was just internet junk. It was like he just let the air out of my balloon.
I then proceeded to ignore the problem for a while and pretend it didn’t bother me that my $135,000 sports car was stumbling around town. As you might imagine, I learned it’s very hard to avoid the rather useful 2,000-4,000 RPM range. A less focused individual would probably have shrugged it all off and enjoyed the car, but I just couldn’t. I began the discussion with my poor wife who just endured the onslaught of me getting a C2S and an F80 M3 inside of six months. God bless her, she really understood my dilemma. I was going to have to go to battle with Porsche. I was going to have to drive 45 miles to the dealership countless times, give them my beloved car to tear apart, write letters, hire attorneys, meet with regional reps, make dozens of phone calls, etc., etc…
I got my calculator out and started crunching the numbers. I had to ask myself the question, “How much money am I willing to lose to not have to deal with the headache?” I would guess most rational people would not be considering another Porsche, let alone another 911. Well, I was. My rather flawed rationale was that a GT3 has a different motor, so it may decrease my odds of getting another stumbler. My wife thought I was insane. I explained to her that I don’t want another car. I want a 911. I was willing to roll the dice. Oh, and remember I wanted a GT3 anyway.
I got on the phone to my local dealer to start working on the deal for the future allocation they had. Long story short, I ended up getting a car that was built almost exactly the way I wanted from the dealer I bought my C2S from. Pheww…deep breath… It was a long hard road over a rather short ownership period, but here I am, a 34 year-old, couldn’t be happier, 991 GT3 owner that’s light by about a year’s worth of a private universities education! (Sorry Baby Kate, you’re going to UCF.)
Now that I’m done whining, let’s get on with comparing the differences. Before you start kicking and screaming, I understand this isn’t a fair comparison. I get that you’re thinking, “We all know the GT3 is better.” Of course it is! I understand that, but I thought it useful for those considering the two cars to make a comparison. I got flamed pretty hard for making a comparison of the F80 M3 and C2S. Not being a track guy, people were asking how I could possibly have the nerve to make a comparison. What did I know about cars since I don’t go to the track on weekends? Well, call me names if you want, I’m going to give my perspective on these two street cars for the regular guy that likes cars but doesn’t necessarily have an SCCA pro card.
To start, my GT3 build cost another roughly $24K, at $156,000. Since my car wasn’t built by me, it has some things that I wouldn’t have optioned. Although, I’m not at all regretting getting any of the options that are on the car.
Sapphire Blue Metallic
Leather Interior in Black/Alcantara
Extended Range Fuel Tank
Front Axle Lift System
Sound Package Plus
LED Headlights incl PDLS
Light Design Package
Sport Design Steering Wheel
Extended Interior Package, Door Panel in Leather/Alcantara
Pedals and Footrest in Aluminum
Automatically Dimming Mirrors and Integrated Rain Sensor
Seat belts in Silver Grey
Headlight Cleaning System Covers in Exterior Color
Fuel Cap with Aluminum Look Finish
The look of my White C2S was awesome. The Sport Design front bumper and side mirrors made the car look a little cleaner but meaner at the same time. I loved the design of the straight-edged, painted front lip. Dare I type this, I actually prefer the cleanliness of the Sport Design front bumper of the C2S over the GT3 with its metal grills and unfinished front lip. I don’t dislike it, but prefer the former. I do feel the car can look a little weird if you catch the wrong angle, so I was pretty set on getting a Tech Art wing at some point. With Sport PASM the car was lower, but it was just tad bit high for my taste. I’m sure I would have lowered the car, but it felt like it would be blaspheming to mess with a 911’s suspension. Another nit-picky note, because optioned Burmester I had the rear deck-lid box for the XM antenna that I really hated looking at. At least the box wasn’t glued onto the roof like on the GT3. XM on the GT3 was a deal-breaker for me.
In my humble opinion, the ride height of the 991 GT3 is perfect. There would be no need to lower the car or add spacers as you can’t improve perfection. The extra concave in the rear wheel design is much more aesthetically appealing than the basic Carrera S wheel. I understand the need for Centerlocks but would probably prefer to have regular studded wheels.
The classic White with the Platinum Satin wheels was incredible. The white paint with dark accents and the bite of an AWE exhaust I installed just suited me. I had opted away from white so many times on previous cars, but I thought the color, or lacking of color, fit the car so well. In my opinion, it added another little touch of class to my harder-edged sports car. The car was a reflection of my personality, blue collar roots walking around in a suit and tie. The car did a great job at blending in with the crowd, but those that knew, knew it was not something ordinary.
To contrast with the Sapphire Blue GT3, I have a totally different, yet still positive reaction. I obviously no longer blend in with the crowd. From the perspective of how this car looks, it yells rather than raises it proverbially voice. People are drawn to the car. The wider fenders, aerodynamic elements like the giant wing on the back, the super low stance, and the fact that the CAR IS BLUE make it elicit much, much more attention. I’m not sure that is a good thing, but the bright Blue GT3 definitely makes sense for a guy like me that is much different than what I would call a “regular” person. It fits very well as a weekend, special event car.
The interiors are very similar with a few key differences in my two versions of the cars. Both had full leather and 4-way Sport Seats Plus. The GT3 has most of the extras, some of which I wouldn’t have chosen but am not complaining about having. For one, the GT3 comes with an ample amount of Platinum Deviated Stitching. I opted out of the $5,000ish option on the C2S. The stitching makes the leather dash and top of the doors much more noticeable. I always thought my plain black full leather in the C2S was a bit of a waste as the black stitching didn’t make it look much different than the standard interior.
I also have the aluminum pedals in the GT3, which I would highly recommend. I would have thought they would be slippery, but they have a texture to them that works quite well. One thing I was very pleased about, but would have never thought to get, is Silver seat belts. I thought I would hate colored seat belts, but these are subtle and work very well with the deviated stitching. I do not have Sport Chrono. I didn’t really like of dislike the clock in my C2S. I just didn’t find it necessary. I’m glad it’s not there. The clock would be just one more thing to vibrate.
My GT3 does have a few useless options that I would easily bag: Light Design Package, Extended Leather on Door Panels, and Fire Extinguisher. I’d like my 1,400 bucks back, but it’s a little late for that. For my children’s sake, I would have also loved to have had a back seat, but my three year-old son fits fine with his booster in the front seat pushed all the way back. Don’t worry, the airbag senses his weight and turns off.
The biggest regret is not having Burmester. I know, I know… Listen to the engine. I get that, but I want a better stereo. I did think the Sound Package Plus option would sound worse than it does, but it certainly isn’t good. I get a boatload more rattling in the GT3 interior. I’m guessing it’s the stiffer suspension. It would be nice to have a decent audio system just to mask all of the vibration. Call me a poser, but I’ll be putting aftermarket separates in the it at some point.
Steel vs. CCBs
My C2S had the standard brakes. Oh man, were they awesome! The braking capabilities were something of another world to me. My stereotypical German sales guy, Heiner, said something to me that pops into my brain almost every time I approach a stop light, “Just remember the people behind you can’t stop like you can.” Boy was he right! It’s obviously a combination of massive calipers, great design, and a lightweight car, but I was instantly in love. I still enjoyed them, despite the fact that they made a huge mess about five seconds after washing my car. I do actually enjoyed cleaning my wheels. It gives me a chance to admire the six-piston red calipers. I Opti-Coated the wheels and never had a problem getting them clean. The only thing that annoyed me was the rust. Living in Central FL, the humidity capital of the world, the rotors would rust over after washing my no matter what I did. Blowing drying, Hyde’s Rust Stopper Serum, pulling the car back and forth with the pedal pressed while pulling into the garage; none of that seemed to work. So I’d get a nice orange coating of the wheels after every wash. Oh well, it was worth it.
My best friend always tells me, “With Porsche brakes, comes Porsche brake dust.” Well, not anymore. I decided to lay down the cash for the Carbon Ceramic Option on my new F80 M3. I was excited about the look and pedal feel that I would get, but little did I know my life was about to change forever. If you are reading this, I’m guessing you have already surmised that I’m a little atypical, but the next few comments will solidify your suspicions. I will never be able to own a car with regular brakes again! It has nothing to do with the stopping power or function of the brakes. It is simply the cleanliness of them. I know, I’m stupid to spend tens of thousands of dollars for clean wheels, but I don’t care what anyone thinks. I’m so in love that I will never be able to go back.
Since most of you actually care about the function over form, I will say I don’t think there is a perceptible difference on the street. The CCBs on the Porsche are still very noisy. The noise they make is pretty much the same as what I had on my Steel C2S brakes. For some reason, it doesn’t bother me as much on the GT3 as it did on the C2S. I feel like it’s almost expected to hear some squeal and squeak from the much more aggressive looking GT3. I would also say that if I were a track guy, I’d certainly be nervous to click the $10,000 option as I wouldn’t want to have to replace rotors.
One of my favorite things in life to date was the experience of taking my AP1 S2000 all the way to redline at 9,000 RPMs. I also would have loved taking my shortly owned Yamaha YZF-R6 to redline as well (if I wasn’t such a chicken) just to hear the engine get to 14 or 15K (I tried the motor cycle thing, it’s not for me). For whatever reason, it’s never been about huge horsepower/torque or having a car that looked the best. I think it has to do with the appreciation of the feat of engineering that a high revving engine accomplishes that gets me all warm and fuzzy. So needless to say, one of the things that intrigued me more than anything about the GT3 over the C2S was the ability to rev to the stratosphere.
In speaking about my X51 Powerkit equipped C2S, it was certainly no slouch. The linear pull to redline at 7,500 RPMs was nothing short of euphoric. I never once questioned its ability. Dare I say, I still much prefer a short trip to the hardware store or gym if it were in the C2S? A surprising thing to me is the fact that the GT3 gets to operating temperature must faster than the C2S, but the little extra low-end grunt and the sound a C2S makes below 4,000 RPMS is a big winner for a short trip.
Since I’m on the topic of sound, let me discuss it for a minute. In my opinion, the sound a car makes is an integral part of the overall experience it can give you. Being a Porsche newbie, there are a few things about the GT3 I didn’t know or hadn’t considered.
1.) PSE: Out of the box the GT3 sounds good, but the PSE on the C2S is much better. Operation is so much better here on the C2S. When you press the PSE button on the C2S, the valves open and stay open at all RPMs. The GT3 doesn’t work this way. You press the PSE button and the valves stay closed until it senses a certain amount of throttle modulation or hits around 4,000 RPMs. I figured out why they do this by forcing the valves open all of the time. There is a pretty annoying amount of drone/resonance at the lower RPM ranges. Also, it has been said that the valves are closed to allow for optimum back pressure giving maximum low-end torque. Since I spend most of my time cruising around town in a somewhat civilized fashion, I’m hoping the aftermarket can provide us with a drone-free solution that allows the PSE in the GT3 to operate more like the C2S. The bypasses currently available don’t do this. They just amplify the current sound.
2.) Over-run: I didn’t realize there is no “over-run,” backfire, from the GT3. I know many love the artificially induced over-run from the C2S. I grew to tolerate it and at times really like it, but I tend to prefer a more organized exhaust note. When I first drove the GT3 home, I couldn’t put my finger on what was so different about the sound. I then saw a post in the 991 forum on Rennlist of a respected poster saying he was growing tired of the over-run and was considering a GT3. It was at that moment I realized why I thought the sound was so different, NO BACKFIRE!
3.) Downshifts: The C2S definitely wins here. I’m guessing it has to do with ultimate speed rather than drama. The GT3 is very business-like on a downshift while the C2S gives you the maximum sensory stimulation. Whether it be PDK or Manual, the C2S is certainly more fun to change gears. I do understand the preference Porsche made in function over drama the GT3 provides, but I wish it were a little better in this department.
Other than the few things I wasn’t aware of, there really is no big surprise here. The exhaust note on the C2S is better for a car that is driven around town. The GT3 shines on the back roads when driving like a hooligan. I’m still holding onto hope that I can improve the low RPM noise the GT3 makes through the aftermarket but won’t be overly disappointed if I am never able to do so.
Back to hitting redline. For legal reasons, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I made it about 250 miles of quality RPM varying break-in until I just had to see what 9K felt like. Again, the experience of the C2S was awesome, but oh my the GT3! The sound that engine makes completes me! If the car hit redline at 6,000 RPMs I’d be cool with it. That would be the case if I didn’t know what happened after that point. The car has VTEC, yo! Ha, ha. It is almost as if the car leaps to 9K.
The violence that takes place should not feel so right. The car shifts better, sounds better, feels better above the 6K line. It is clearly built to spend a lot of time there. I used to feel badly about taking my car to redline too often, like I was abusing it. Well, the opposite holds true here. You feel like you are abusing the GT3 by driving around town. It begs you to let it loose. Wait until the first time you have the windows down, hit about hundred miles an hour with the engine howling, and your brain about explodes from the buffeting, sound of the engine, and connection to car through it’s steering. It’s hard to explain the joy that accompanies this experience.
I hope C2S owners reading this can take a little solace in the few wins I’ve given it above, but there is nothing else to say here other than: the C2S is very good, but the GT3 is epic!
The biggest question about owning and driving a GT3 on the street is, “How’s the ride.” Honestly it very compliant and rather nice. It certainly is stiffer and lower than the C2S, but it’s not unbearable. I compare the GT3 ride to being similar to a C2S with Sport PASM that has been lowered and driven in Sport Suspension Mode. So it is definitely stiff, but still very streetable. I know it’s compliant and others are doing it, but I don’t think I’d want to be rolling around a place like NYC or Boston in this car. An additional note, I’m so very glad my build had the Front Axle Lift added. I didn’t want to pay for it, but I’d rather pay $3,500 for it than six grand for a new front bumper. I’ve used it like a hundred times in the first thousand miles. I never had a clearance issue with the C2S, but the GT3 is so much lower.
The biggest difference I have noticed in handling is the tires. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 are a marvel. With my limited driving skills I rarely notice much of a difference between high performance tires. But these tires are in a category of their own. Even a goof like me can recognize how great they are. They are so awesome, that even the lettering is better. When someone is looking at and asking about the car, I always point out the Felt Technology used to make the lettering in the rubber. That person inevitably calls some else they know over to show them the “felt” in the tires. Anyway, I think it’s cool.
7MT vs. PDK-S
Being a manual purist, I shocked a few friends with the GT3 purchase. I’m not going to lie. I was a little worried myself. It’s not like you can go out and test drive a 991 GT3 for a few hours to see if you like it. Other than my AP2 S2000, the 7MT in the C2S with Auto Rev Matching (I can’t heel-toe to save my life.) is the finest manual transmission I’ve ever driven. PDK was not even a consideration for me but in rolls the GT3 with the optimized version, the PDK-S.
Now I was already a bit on edge signing paperwork to lose tens of thousands of dollars on my trade and then spend tens of thousands of dollars more, but I almost had a panic attack shortly after I drove my new car off the lot. I got down the street about a mile, so the car hadn’t warmed up yet. The car clunked and clanged as it downshifted into first as I approached a stop. The car was angry with me. I thought, “Oh my word! What have I done?” I had just traded my messed up car for a more expensive one that’s already broken! I’ll admit it. I actually pulled over and contemplated taking it back to the dealership. I remembered others saying the GT3 has always been a little finicky when cold, so I charged on home. I later made a post on Rennlist asking if this was normal. It is. So if you get a GT3 be ready for some a bunch of chatter and noise you may not have been expecting.
Being an engineer at heart, I should give up the inferior technology of the manual transmission. I tried on my Audi S4 with the awful DSG so called double clutch auto piece of garbage. I hated every second of it. Naturally, I was a little gun shy getting the PDK-S. All of my major complaints have been addressed. The car doesn’t move when you let off the brake. You can really feel the clutch engage when you roll on the throttle from a stop.
I don’t much care about the automatic modes, but they are both no good for me. The normal auto mode gets you into 7th gear before you can blink and the PDK-Sport mode keeps you at 4,000 RPMs plus. I’m rolling around in manual mode all of the time. The other thing they addressed is the feel of both the paddles and the shift lever. The DCT M3/M5 have these junky plastic levers that feel cheap. I’m so pleased with the stiffness of both the paddles and the stick in the GT3. The paddles are made of metal and require a nice amount of pressure to depress. The stick feels very heavy and clicks into place without a hint of plastic play. Porsche did us right with the substantial feel you get from both.
The other great news is that unlike most other cars, “manual” actually means fully manual! The tranny won’t shift for you. It won’t kick down a gear. It allows you to bog the engine. It doesn’t short shift you at redline. You can bounce the thing off the rev limiter if you aren’t careful. I love that. Let me control the car, not the computer. The only thing that it does automatically for you is downshift the car at the last second as you approach a stop. The best part is the ability pull both paddles to disengage the clutch. This allows me to take control when I want. For example, if I want to act like a teenager and rev the engine under an overpass, I can.
The big question here is, knowing what I know now, do I wish I could have a manual? I think the answer to that is that I already have a manual. It’s just an automated manual. I honestly believe the GT3 revs too violently and quickly to be trying to watch the tach, stay focused on the road, engage a clutch, and shift a gear. It’s just too much to process with the speed of the car. Porsche is right to take this decision away from us. They are saving us from ourselves. PDK-S has made a believer out of me, and I haven’t even used launch control yet.
Feels Much More Like a Super Car
My original intent was to drive my M3 half of the time and the C2S the other half. With the GT3, that plan has changed. There is obviously a little less practicality for me as I don’t have a back seat. I can’t load up the kids in the back, so the GT3 will primarily be a solo manned vehicle. Even though the GT3 is built on the same platform and can be used every day, the slight pushing of the envelope with the color or the giant wing seems to create much more separation between my “everyday” M3 and the new car. I just don’t feel right taking it to my office regularly, so it has become a true weekend car. Because of this, I will be putting less milage on the car and should be keeping it longer. This is a good thing because I had to sign a proverbial 5 year no new car contract with the wife.
Even though you are sitting in a similarly appointed cockpit with the exact same steering wheel, there is something about looking out the rear window and seeing the giant wing while the motor climbs RPMs at lightning speed that makes it feel much more like a “super car.” It also elicits significantly more attention than I’m used to getting. I tend to prefer to blend into the crowd, but that goes completely out the window with this thing. I’m concerned someone is going to break there neck while snapping their head around to quickly to catch a glimpse.
The C2S certainly has its place and probably fits better into a life of boring driving like mine. But… The sheer aggressive beauty of the car that looks like it’s going a hundred miles an hour while sitting in a parking space, makes the GT3 irresistible to me. The timelessness of the classic 911 look combined with modern technology and comforts makes the 991 version of the GT3 perfect for a guy like me. Some argue that’s it too soft. I disagree and think Porsche built a more every day purpose built car that can appeal to the softie like me while still appeasing the hard-core weekend racer. I believe its the best of both worlds. I’m sorry to waste your time with such an unfair comparison, but I felt compelled to share my thoughts.
I know everyone tends to be a fanboy about their own purchases, but I could easily say that if I died tomorrow, my car pursuit would be complete!
Thanks for reading!