Porsche 911 GT3 Cup previews new version of enthusiasts’ favorite 911

2013 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup front three quarter viewWhen Porsche unveils a new 911, it’s just the beginning of a long journey. The product planners in Zuffenhausen have become adept at creating distinct 911 variants, so the basic version of Porsche’s iconic sports car is really just a starting point. Take the newly unveiled 911 GT3 Cup. This race-ready sports car foretells good things for the upcoming GT3 road car.

The GT3 Cup may have a huge rear spoiler and a gutted interior, but subtract those items and you will have something pretty close to the production 991 911 GT3, the latest version of many car enthusiasts’ 911.

The original GT3 debuted about 15 years ago on the 996 platform, and quickly became a fan favorite. It’s combination of light weight, rear-wheel drive, and a powerfully naturally-aspirated engine (no turbos here), made it both fast and rewarding to drive.

That rewarding experience is mostly a product of simplicity. The GT3 has never had the muscle of the (all-wheel drive) 911 Turbo or the (rear-wheel drive) 911 GT2, but it also boasts more linear power delivery and a lower curb weight.

That would explain why the GT3 has spawned so many racing variants. Porsche sold a GT3 Cup based on the previous 997 chassis for very wealthy weekend warriors, as well as a GT3 RSR for more hardcore professionals. It also built the GT3 R Hybrid, which used a KERS-like flywheel system to power a supplementary electric motor.

Speaking of racecars, the new, 991-based 911 GT3 Cup sports a 3.8-liter flat six, with 460 horsepower. That’s a bit more than what the 3.8-liter engine in the last 997.2 GT3 produced, but it doesn’t quite match the 493 hp 4.0-liter engine from the GT3 RS 4.0, the final 997-based 911 produced.

2013 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup rear three quarter viewThe 3.8-liter boxer will probably make it into the GT3 road car, but some of the Cup’s other features may not. The six-speed sequential transmission with paddle shifters and dog gears is overkill for a road car, and the single-lug wheels will baffle service station attendants. The massive (10.6-inch wide front, 12.2-inch rear) Michelin racing slicks also won’t pass muster at the DMV.

The GT3 Cup also has some important safety features that should make taking it on the track less risky. The roll cage was redesigned to fit the 991’s sleeker body, and the seat has new attachments that envelop the driver to keep him or her secure. Porsche also added a rescue hatch that allows first responders to reach the driver quickly.

The GT3 Cup is built on the same production line as every other 911, but it gets its racing gear from the Porsche Motorsport Center in Weissach, Germany.

It may be a racer, but the GT3 Cup is available to individual buyers. However, it’s a big step up from a Carrera in performance and price. MSRP is roughly $234,245, but luckily the upcoming GT3 road car will be cheaper.