Five More GT3 Road Cars Expected in 2015
Nowadays, whenever you hear "GT3" it will usually mean just one of two things: either the person you’re talking with has a mutual interest in endurance racing, and most of all the FIA GT3 class, or the topic of conversation is the Porsche 911 GT3. As it happens, I’m talking about racing, and things are about to change in 2015, since five more road cars inspired by the FIA GT3 class are expected to be unveiled in the upcoming months.
According to Autocar’s Andrew Frankel, only one of those cars will bear Porsche badges, while the other four will each come from a different manufacturer. Don’t expect them to be simply called GT3 either, since the Stuttgart sports-car maker has actually trademarked this exact moniker for road-going cars. That said, since Bentley is already offering a limited edition Continental GT3-R, variations of the "GT3" name don’t seem to infringe on the trademark.
Although still speculative, the information regarding most of the upcoming sports cars is anchored in reality, as the FIA GT3 endurance racing category is now more popular than ever and a lot of carmakers are starting to express interest in it. Naturally, this means that almost every FIA GT3 racing car will have a corresponding road car, just like in the golden days of motorsport.
Click past the jump to read more about the future GT3 road cars.
Why it matters
Unlike Formula 1, whose popularity has been free falling, mostly thanks to the "genius" of Bernie Ecclestone and some of his recent business endeavors, endurance racing is experiencing a huge rise in public demand. Although the FIA GT3 Championship was folded back in 2012, a large gathering of cup championships following similar rules have taken its place, with an increasing number of FIA GT3-spec cars running in various races around the world. Most of those cars are expected to also come as road-going versions in the nearby future, giving the mighty Porsche 911 GT3 and GT3 RS a run for their money.
With the rest of the 911 lineup switching to forced induction in the upcoming year or so, the 911 GT3 and 911 GT3 RS will remain the only naturally aspirated Porsche models. Based on the already bonkers 911 GT3, the RS (Renn Sport) version should be the closest thing to a racer for the road, especially since it will be significantly lighter than the standard model and come with enough downforce to rival that of the 911 RSR race car that is currently running in the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Recent reports also mention that the 911 GT3 RS will feature a new, naturally aspirated, flat-six engine with around 500 horsepower on tap, whose turbocharged version will trickle down to other 911 models in the future. In terms of both looks and performance, the model will probably run circles around any of its competitors, but I will reserve further judgement until the car is actually released, with the upcoming 2015 Geneva Motor Show being a likely launch venue.
Although the "regular" V12 Vantage S is mainly regarded as a go-faster-version of an otherwise comfortable grand tourer, it looks like Aston Martin is set to finally unveil a more track-focused version at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. Not many details about the model are known as of 2/17/2015, but it is expected that the Vantage GT3 will keep the naturally aspirated V-12 engine in its front-midship position, but only after Gaydon engineers have upgraded it to around 600 horsepower.
Approximately 200 pounds or more are said to have been shed from the V12 Vantage S, while the regular suspension may have been switched for a more track-focused one. A bodykit inspired by the GT3 racer is also expected, with all the modifications placing the new model at a similar level of performance with mid-engine supercars like the new Ferrari 488 GTO or the McLaren 675LT.
Jaguar F-Type R-S "GT3"
Another front-mid-engine GT3-like road car, the Jaguar F-Type’s track-focused version hasn’t been officially confirmed by the British carmaker, but considering the various "R-S" versions of its predecessors it is likely to arrive soon. Not even a racing GT3 version of the F-Type exists as of yet, but with every direct rival being present in the segment, it should be a no-brainer for Jaguar to undertake such a program in the nearby future.
Based on the F-Type R Coupe, the GT3-like F-Type R-S would likely come with a more powerful version of its supercharged, 5.0-liter, V-8, and a host of suspension and aerodynamic enhancements. Since the F-Type is quite a heavy beast for its size, a strict diet would have to be undertaken as well, with the model able to lose at least 100 pounds with better use of aluminum and carbon fiber in its body construction.
Mercedes-AMG GT-RS "GT3"
The GT-RS moniker is obviously just speculation on my part, since Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers recently said that the "GT3" name "belongs to the other company," when talking about a GT3-like version of its new sports car. The GT3 racing version of the Mercedes-AMG GT is already confirmed, with an unveiling to take place sometime in 2015, but Moers also hinted that a road-going version of that is bound to be launched as well.
The AMG boss more than once mentioned that a new GT model would "need more power, less weight, better aero and different suspension, but the targets should be the power-to-weight ratio, driveability, lap time and tremendous feel." We can thus expect the rumored Mercedes-AMG GT-RS to offer somewhere around 550 horsepower and a drop in weight of around 200-220 pounds, while a future Black Series version would have even better numbers.
Unveiled in 2014, but only as a limited-edition version with production capped at 300 units, the Bentley Continental GT3-R was probably the least-likely car to ever come out of Crewe. As some of you know, Bugatti used to call 1920s Bentleys "the world’s fastest lorries," mostly due to their massive weight and more than adequate power.
A lightweight, track-focused version of the gargantuan Continental therefore seems odd, but judging by Bentley’s recent successes in the Continental GT3 racing program, an even more hardcore GT3-R version of the coupe may be in the works. Unlike the limited-edition Continental GT3-R, the new version would need to shed even more weight and would probably switch from all-wheel-drive to rear-wheel-drive in order to better align itself with the racing model.