Watch Porsche’s 2018 911 GT3 blitz the Nurburgring in 7:12.7

If you’re wondering whether a new version of a performance car is really better than its predecessor, Germany’s infamous Nurburgring racetrack can provide a clear-cut answer.

It’s now pretty much standard procedure for automakers to take all manner of performance cars to the ‘Ring in order to achieve bragging rights, but Nürburgring lap times can also be a good yardstick for measuring improvement (or lack thereof) of two generations of a particular car. Take the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3. It just lapped the ‘Ring in 7 minutes, 12.7 seconds. That’s 12.3 seconds faster than the last GT3, according to Top Gear.

That makes the 2018 GT3 among the fastest cars to ever lap the Nurburgring, and it’s especially impressive considering that Porsche actually didn’t make that many changes for the new model. The naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine only makes 25 more horsepower and 15 more pound-feet of torque than the previous GT3’s 3.8-liter engine, for a total of 500 hp and 339 lb-ft. Porsche also made some changes to the car’s aerodynamic aids.

The car used for the Nurburgring run was piloted by Porsche test driver Lars Kern, and equipped with rear-wheel steering, carbon-ceramic brakes, and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. It also had the PDK dual-clutch automated transmission, although a manual option will be available for 2018.

The GT3 isn’t the fastest Porsche to last the Nurburgring. That honor goes to the limited-edition 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar, which managed a 6:57. That gave it the lap record for production cars until the Lamborghini Huracán Performante managed a 6:52.01 in October. The GT3 is also just behind the Mercedes-AMG GT R, which achieved a 7:10.92 lap. The GT R is a close rival to the GT3 in conception, as both are hardcore, track-focused versions of existing sports cars.

But with the GT3 revamped for 2018, it’s only a matter of time before Porsche brings out an upgraded version of the even more hardcore GT3 RS. How fast will that go around the Nurburgring?