GT3 Diaries

July 2019: hard parked

Let’s talk about the GT3’s interior.

In a dedicated sports car, the points that truly matter inside the car boils down to three critical components: the steering wheel, the seat, and the gear knob. If a car gets those three things correct, everything else about the interior almost doesn’t matter. Because when the focus is the driving experience, the interaction between physical body and the parts of the car that touches it is all that matters. Get it wrong, and you probably shouldn’t buy the car.

Good thing Porsche is known for getting it very right. 

First, there’s the seat. Having bought the GT3 used, I didn’t get to spec the car to my liking; given the hypothetical opportunity, I probably would have gone for the middle option: the 18-way adjustable sports seats. I didn’t want the racing buckets because I am decidedly not a track rat, and for my driving purposes – mountain roads and long cruises, something less hardcore and restrictive is more ideal. Not to mention that as an option, the 918-style bucket seats are far from cheap.

My particular GT3 does not have the buckets, but nor does it have the 18-way seats. Instead, I am stuck with the relatively poverty-spec option: the base 4-way adjustable seats. Wanting to get the search process over with as quickly as possible, it was something I was willing to overlook. From what I’ve read beforehand, the standard sport seats are, at the very least, super conformable; the question of whether it can hold my body decently in the corners was something I was willing to gamble with.

To my great surprise, the 4-way sports seats do the job quite sublimely. Despite its lack of adjustability on paper, after half a year of ownership I can say I’m not wanting in anything more. You wouldn’t think that by looking at them, though: the sport seats look absolutely ordinary, one that’s more fitting for a plain Carrera than the dedicated track model. The seats in modern hot hatches like the Civic Type R look more aggressive and racier. It’s amazing then how Porsche have managed to engineer such a plain looking seat to be so good.

As with any car enthusiast, I prefer to sit as low as possible inside; I’ve read many times how Porsche does well to provide a low seating position, and the GT3 does not disappoint. The seat adjusts really low to the ground, giving a feel of sitting in the car, rather than on it. In the appropriate position, I’ve got about a fist worth of headroom, which is downright cavernous compared my previous car the MX-5 Miata, where the top of my head was mere millimeters away from the fabric roof. Theoretically I can sit lower still using an aftermarket seat, but as is I’m already dangerously close to not being able to see the front fenders; going further down would be counterproductive.

After adjusting the seat-back rake, I’ve already exhausted the number of adjustments the base sports seat offer. There are no toggles for lumbar or the height of the thigh cushion, and honestly, I initially thought I’d miss those crucial settings. However, be it psychological bias (you tend to overlook certain things when it’s your car, don’t you?), or just the fact Porsche knows how to engineer a good seat, the standard lumbar and thigh cushion fits me perfectly well. Porsche raked the cushion at an aggressive angle, so my thighs are properly supported, and having done multiple hour stints in the GT3, the absence of lower back pain confirms so.

Right, onto the steering wheel; with the seats at an appropriately low and comfortable position, it’s critical the wheel is able to telescope outwards far enough to meet the driver, so the arms can form a 90-degree angle without the need to scoot the seat too far forward, compromising the legs. To that end, the GT3’s tiller is expectedly good, offering a vast range of motion both in/out and up/down. I am able to position the wheel out far enough to allow me to sit at just the right distance from the pedals.

Contrast to the MX-5 Miata that didn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel: I couldn’t move the seat further front because my head would hit the roof (extremely small convertible two-seater, remember), so the only solution was to live with the fact the steering wheel is slightly farther away than optimal.

I wasn’t about to repeat that in a car that costs six-figures.

Anyways, the steering wheel itself is a joy to hold, and the size a pleasing diameter when doing cornering maneuvers. As standard, the GT3 comes with an Alcantara-wrapped wheel rim, but the first owner of my car spec the leather option instead. I was somewhat disappointed at first because Alcantara is a such a fabulous material to grip, and of course, because racecar, but having owned the car for a bit of months, I’m now grateful for the leather wrap because it’s significantly easier to maintain. A simple wipe-down with warm water is all it needs, rather than the brushes and dedicated rejuvenators that Alcantara requires.

You know you’re in a dedicated, track-focused sports car when there are no extraneous controls on the steering wheel. It can be quite a jarring experience when most other cars on the road – and all the cars in our family other than the GT3 – the driver can adjust volume right on the wheel. That said, needing to move my right hand to turn the actual knob isn’t that much of a hassle because the 911 is a relatively small car; it falls right into hand once muscle memory unlearns the motion of thumbing the wheel spoke.  

Also falling right to the hand is the PDK gear lever, the third important component to a sports car’s interior space. Back when the 991-generation 911 was introduced, some lamented the new interior copies the elevated sloping center console from the Porsche Panamera. Indeed, I too thought it was a bit gimmicky, in vain service of preserving family resemblance throughout the range (hello, 992 rear light bar). However, I’ve realized there is a utilitarian function: in raising the center console, the PDK lever – or the gear stick in manual transmission cars – also gets elevated, to a position that’s just about perfect for executing shifts rapidly. The distance the right hand has to travel to change gears is delightfully short, allowing it to quickly return to the wheel rim where it does its most critical work.

Obviously, quicker still is simply using the paddles to shift gears, but sometimes I want to pretend the GT3 has a racing sequential ‘box, and I’m madly tugging at the center stick to change gears.

Like the steering wheel, the standard PDK knob is wrapped in Alcantara, but because the first owner spec the wheel in leather, the gear stick also gets switched to the cow hide. Here I really have no preference given that I don’t touch the PDK stick nearly as much as the equivalent manual gearbox knob.

All three factors put together, the seat, the steering wheel, and the PDK lever, provides an experience that’s unprecedented in the previous cars I’ve owned; the GT3 Is simply outstanding. Indeed, the car is engineered for long stints at race tracks, so no surprise the driving position is precise and cocooning, but crucially, not fatiguing. Outside of full bladder situations, not once have I felt the need to stop the car after a long drive due to aching body parts.  

The comfort doesn’t come in sacrifice of ability: while the seat bolsters may look ordinary, the standard sports seats hold me in supremely well (at least for my 5’11” frame). In regular mountain road driving, there is absolutely no need to additionally brace myself with legs, which again for seats that everyone on the Porsche forums call “sofas” and regard as subpar, they are amazing and a very pleasant surprise. No need for aftermarket Recaros in my future.

Armed with the perfect driving position, the rest of the GT3’s interior can be poor in quality and I’d be completely okay. Indeed, my last two cars – the MX-5 Miata and a Subaru WRX STI – are well known for low-rent interiors, with hard plastics draped everywhere. Nobody who bought those cars cared, of course, because those sort of entirely about driving. So long as the interior trim doesn’t literally fall apart, the cheapness in feel and touch is of zero consequence.

So, the fact the GT3’s interior appointments are appropriately German – which is to say, extremely nice – is simply icing on the cake.

Porsche customers are able to spec interior trim and pieces with an almost infinite amount of options, provided they’ve got the money (you want yellow-colored seat belts? That would be $600). Some of these optioned-up interiors can get quite wild: during the search for the GT3, I came across one particular sample that had all the interior trim – including the gauge cluster – color-matched to the exterior in Guards Red. I love Guards Red, my wish my GT3 was painted in Guards Red, but interior accents in that color is a step way too far.  

Thankfully, the first owner of my particular GT3 did not go crazy with the options catalog; he didn’t even spec the gaudy Sport Chrono clock, which is something I really appreciate. All the owner spec on top of standard is the aforementioned leather wrap on the steering wheel and PDK knob, extra leather on the door cards and dash, and lastly, seat belts in GT Silver (I’d had skipped that). Tasteful and utilitarian; precisely how I prefer it.  

With so much dead cow skin inside, the GT3 always smell wonderful, which saves me from having to buy the usual air freshener. What isn’t covered in leather is either covered in Alcantara, trimmed in real aluminum, or is the carpet floor itself; there’s very little visible plastic – even the sun visor is wrapped in leather. Fit and finish is superb to typical German standards, and not a rattle can be heard on the road, only the infrequent jingle of the keys hanging off the ignition.

While I do appreciate all the luxurious accoutrements – it’s indeed quite lovely to touch and stroke, I worry that come the time to truly deep clean the interior, it’s going to be much more laborious than simply wiping down plastic pieces. I’m shuddering now just thinking about cleaning and conditioning the acres of leather. Perhaps it’s my sensibilities from having owned Japanese cars: as long as the driving position is correct and comfortable, I really don’t need the extra fancy stuff.  

Though Apply CarPlay would have been nice. I realize it’s a 2015 car, but it’s near unfathomable that a car costing this much didn’t even offer CarPlay as an option. It wasn’t until the 991.2-generation that Porsche decided to allow customers to pay for the privilege of Apple CarPlay.  

The one thing I do love about the inside of the GT3, aside from the driving position, is the instrument cluster. As modern cars pivot to using digital displays in place of almost every interaction inside - from instruments, to navigation, and even HVAC controls - I’m really glad my “forever car” still features exquisitely mechanical instrument dials. None grander and more glorious than the center tachometer: the physical needle dancing to the engine’s heartbeat, and the demarcation indicating the 9K redline; it’s a real work of art.

It’s no surprise Porsche kept the tach – and only the tach – as a mechanical piece in the 992.

As you can see in the stats below, there weren’t whole lot of miles in the month of July. For the latter half I was traveling in Japan for nearly two weeks, and the weeks before that I had lots of non-car obligations to attend to. The handful of miles I did do were only in service of exercise the car, not allowing it to sit for too long. My parking situation doesn’t allow for a battery tender, so I actively avoid letting the GT3 sit for more than two weeks. A brief hour-long loop usual does the trick, which also explains the unusually high fuel mileage this month.  

One small piece of news to report: the six-month renewal on the car’s insurance came up, and the cost went down by nearly $400 dollars over the next half of the year. It’s a very welcomed reprieve on the high insurance costs; I guess GEICO, having extracted enough money from me, now trusts me a little more to lower my risk profile. Slightly.

The month of August looks to be busy again with non-car stuff, so looks like the GT3 will sit more often than I’d like. A shame, because gas prices have gone down…


Date acquired: January 2019
Total mileage: 27,247
Mileage this month: 211
Costs this month: $299.58
MPG this month: 17.2 mpg