As before, Porsche has thrown the best bits from the 911 Carrera catalogue at its GTS. Is it more than the sum of its parts?
Steering-wheel drive selector turned to sport+, left foot firmly on the brake pedal and right foot full on the throttle to swing the rev needle round the clock. As soon as it bounces off the limiter, side step the brake pedal. The rear tyres dig into the test strip’s tarmac and slingshot the 911 forward. Keep the fizzing steering wheel straight and there’s barely any time to marvel at how quickly the Carrera GTS picks up speed, and how swiftly it changes gears.
A look at our VBOX confirms the GTS is near-911 Turbo quick; 100 km/h flashes by in a mere 3,43 seconds, or 0,3 seconds quicker than Porsche’s claim. And we test with two adults on board and a full tank of fuel… That’s spectacular performance for a model that sits smack bang in the middle of the range, with a series of quicker cars to come for those with even deeper pockets.
However, 911 GTSs have never been developed simply to slay on the straights; that acceleration figure is but one feather in this model’s cap. Past and present, this evocatively named version has always been the model on which Porsche has lavished the best options in the Carrera range. Highlights on this latest GTS include additional power and torque, the wider Carrera 4 body, PDK transmission, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), Sport Chrono Package and 20-inch wheels with a centre lock. Do the sums and you quickly realise this model is stellar value, too; spec a Carrera S to this level and its price would surpass that of the GTS before you even moved from the exterior to the cabin accoutrements.
Our Sapphire Blue GTS test car certainly looks the part. Hunkered down (thanks to the 20 mm ride-height drop versus a standard Carrera or S), the wheels fill the wide arches to the brim and the various intakes, slats and outlets leave no doubt Porsche is serious about this vehicle. It’s all about functional aesthetics and the pursuit of managing airflow perfectly.
Inside, this test unit’s seats are covered in charcoal-coloured leather that meshes well with the optional GTS Alcantara package (R61 670). The latter covers parts of the seats, the door cards and rear chairs in this suede-like material. The multifunction steering wheel is both functional and feels of perfect size and rim circumference. The deep transmission tunnel cocoons the front passengers, supports your left leg during cornering and houses the buttons for the infotainment system as well as those to activate the sports exhaust, suspension settings and stop/start system.
The standard sport seats do a fine job of keeping you in place while also offering enough padded comfort for longer journeys. There is the option to add sport bucket seats (R64 920) that give you increased lateral support. Typically, it takes a while to familiarise yourself with the uniquely Porsche layout of the controls and what the various buttons on the steering wheel do, but perceived quality is beyond reproach.
Porsche has a long history – 45 years, to be exact – of turbocharging its engines and it shows in this application. Unlike many force-fed powerplants that are too quiet or pipe artificial sounds into the cabin, the GTS starts up with a raw, unadorned burble from the exhaust outlets. Move the PDK lever into drive and the note settles down as you pootle through traffic with less effort and more comfort than pretty much any other sportscar at this price point.
The ride is firm, yes, but the damping is exemplary. Turn the drive selector knob on the steering wheel from its standard setting to sport+ and you immediately have a different car on your hands. The rev needle crests nearer to the redline as the PDK ‘box hooks a lower gear, while the throttle blips to match engine and wheel speed, the suspension stiffens and the throttle pedal becomes hyper-sensitive. Flex your foot and the 3,0-litre flat-six turbopetrol accumulates speed at least as quick as the first-generation 991’s naturally aspirated engine. Leave the gearlever in drive and the changes, up and down, are perfectly matched to the moment you enter a corner or as you race towards the redline after a turn. This is truly one of the great powertrains currently in operation.
But that isn’t even the GTS’ most impressive characteristic. Porsche 911s have abundant rear-axle grip, mainly thanks to the weight distribution shifted rearwards thanks to the engine placement. That’s helped, of course, by 305-section rear tyres, as well as optional (R41 050) rear-axle steering, and the result is you can really lean on the rear-end to toe the line, much more so than in other rear-wheel-drive sportscars.
This latest version of Porsche’s electronic steering has also never felt more natural, nor more naturally geared. Back on the highway, simply pop the transmission lever back into drive and revel in the elasticity of the engine, which gathers pace without pause even from low speeds in a high gear, all the while emitting a wonderful rasp through the pair of exhaust pipes.