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The Porsche 911 GT3 Touring Is the Best GT3, But Maybe Not for the Reason You Think

Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

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It’s less about the wing and more about the leather.

There are plenty of cars on sale in the world that are worthy of neither praise nor damnation. Globalization and computer-aided advances in manufacturing mean few cars truly suck these days, but it’s also made many rides more generic and milquetoast.

Of course, there are exceptions — especially on the praise side. Cars that stand out as testimony to the wonders that engineers and designers who truly love driving can create when given room to run. Cars that exist not just to move our bodies and goods, but to move our souls.

Cars like the Porsche 911 GT3 Touring.

Technically it’s the Porsche 911 GT3 with Touring Package, but nobody actually calls it that outside of Zuffenhausen’s PR department. “Touring Package” makes it sound like a box you check on Porsche’s delightful car configurator to choose it, but the automaker’s website reveals the truth: the Touring “Package” lies alongside the regular GT3 in the exact same fashion the Carrera, Carrera T and Carrera S sit next to one another. It’s very much its own variant, not an option pack.

The most notable difference between Touring and non-Touring versions of the GT3 lies at the tail end of the car: the 911 GT3 boasts a massive downforce-generating wing that seems worthy of the Next-Generation Air Dominance project and a smaller, fixed lip spoiler on the trunk lid engine cover below, while the Touring boasts basically the same active spoiler found on regular Carreras. Up front, meanwhile, the Touring sees its lower fascia painted to match the rest of the car; its twin’s lower jaw is rendered in flat black.

Yes, it’s the color of blue Play-Doh. Yet somehow, it works beautifully.Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

Beyond that, however, the standard spec of both models is the same: a coupe-only body with aerodynamic vents in the frunk lid, a lack of rear seats, a center-mounted side-by-side shotgun for an exhaust and — most crucial of all — a naturally aspirated ass-mounted 4.0-liter flat-six engine that revs to a spectacular 9,000 rpm and sends its power to the rear wheels alone through a choice of seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or six-speed manual gearbox.

Both variants are among the best new cars you can buy; they’re so good, they almost feel like bargains at their six-figure price. Still, if you have to choose one, it’s actually a simple choice: you want the 911 GT3 Touring.

Surprisingly, the subtle appearance isn’t the reason why the Touring is the superior choice for most of us. No, the best reason to choose the GT3 Touring over its is for what you can do with the interior.

Going GT3 Touring lets you choose the interior this 911 deserves

I was lucky enough to log several days in both a “regular” 911 GT3 and a 911 GT3 Touring within a few months of each other, and let me tell you, the latter proved a far more enjoyable way to knock out the miles. The difference didn’t have anything to do with how either car drove; it was all about the seats and upholstery.

My Touring tester came with the Two-Tone Exclusive Manufaktur Leather Interior in Black and Your Choice of Color, paired with the 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats Plus. The pair of options runs a shocking $18,300 … yet in all honesty, after experiencing it, I can’t imagine ordering a 911 GT3 Touring and not checking those boxes. Sure, it’s as much as a lightly used Civic, but it’s a dream-car option — and what is the 911 GT3 if not a dream car?

The blue accent stitching that matches the leather is just *chef’s kiss*.Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

If you opt for the bewinged version, the only choice you really have is between the base chairs, their 18-way power upgrade and the $5,900 full bucket seats that look better suited for the GT3 RS. (My first 992-gen GT3, a traditional one with the wing, came with the carbon-fiber-framed buckets, which I found comfortable so long as I didn’t have to, y’know, shift.) Whatever you choose, you’re getting them swaddled in black “Race Tex” microsuede and a smattering of black leather.

Checking the Exclusive Manufaktur box found on the GT3 Touring, however, opens up new realms of both style and comfort. High-quality leather swaddles everything from the edge of the dashboard to the grab handles on the doors; even the passenger’s cup holder wears cowskin. 10 different shades can be paired with black: chocolate-y brown, deep crimson, eggshell white and the vivid blue seen here are just the tip of the iceberg.

Pairing the leather interior with the Adaptive Sport Seats Plus creates a combo that’s both all-day comfortable and hard-charging supportive, even for drivers like yours truly with 36-inch inseams. The only place you might find it lacking is if you’re regularly pushing the car to 10/10ths on the track … and if that’s your plan, why didn’t you buy the GT3 RS?

The 911 GT3 Touring is absolute perfection to drive

Most people won’t realize just how special the GT3 Touring is … and that’s the point.Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

The driving experience of the Touring is more or less identical to the big-wing variant, at least at the speeds you’ll encounter while cornering in the real world, so there’s no need to completely rehash that. (Feel free to read my piece below if you want my original insights.)

Still, any excuse to spend more time in the company of this screamer of an engine is worth dedicating a few fresh words to. The 4.0-liter engine is as much musical instrument as propulsive force, howling higher and louder with every extra thousand revolutions per minute you pile on through the precise, delicate throttle pedal. It sounds like God’s own sewing machine.

It takes a conscious effort to recalibrate your expectations to its power curve; max torque doesn’t show up until 6,100 rpm, right when most new-car engines are hitting redline. Second gear is good for 75 miles per hour, so you can easily leave it there for many a country road and ride the roller coaster from 4,000 rpm to 9,000 over and over again as you crank through tight turns and down short straights.