It’s no coincidence that Porsche chose the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show to unveil the sportiest version of its Panamera range to date, the GTS. Indeed the US has been the largest market for the Panamera since its 2009 launch, with Los Angeles sales piping the charts just ahead of New York. While many a debate may still rage about the styling of this five-door, few can continue to argue with Porsches decision to delve into this segment, while order books continue to burst at the seams and burgeoning markets like Russia and China put pressure on the company’s Leipzig assembly plant to meet demand.
As with the last of the 997 Carrera models launched, and as Porsche prepares to lift the covers off of the facelifted Panamera range, a GTS version of the outgoing model represents the sportiest, most performance-oriented naturally aspirated version of the car to date. As such, although there remain more powerful turbocharged examples in the range, the GTS aims to provide a usable compromise between everyday usability and outright performance (with potential track use in mind). The Panamera GTS is thus positioned nicely between the 4S and Turbo.
Riding 10 mm lower than a standard Panamera, the GTS is afforded styling cues from big brother Turbo, including air-guzzling SportDesign front fender treatment, bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lamps, and an elaborate folding wing that deploys at 90 km/h. 19-inch wheels are standard fitment as are the 5 mm spacers at each corner that widen the overall track (front and rear) accordingly. Exclusively for the GTS model is the adoption of a matte-black finish within the headlamp cluster and lower trim bits, as well as around the twin sets of exhaust tailpipes protruding from the rear. A new colour option, Carmine Red, has also been introduced for the GTS.
Instantly comfortable adaptive sports seats, finished in a combination of leather and alcantara, greet the driver as you settle in behind the standard SportDesign steering wheel, with its PDK paddles attached.
Using the same naturally aspirated V8 engine as the 4S, the GTS nevertheless gains additional power (up 22 kW to 316 kW) and torque (up 20 N.m to 520 N.m) thanks to a modified intake camshaft with extended valve lift and a new air-induction system with additional air-filter modules. A revised engine-management system has also been developed for the GTS and this includes a further reduction in the shift times for the already impressive standard PDK transmission.
The Panamera GTS features PTM (Porsche Traction Management) as standard, with this active all-wheel-drive system continuously monitoring driving and traction conditions and able to send power to the front wheels, from the permanently driven rear axle, when required. Also standard on the GTS is sport and sport+ functionality, enabling the driver to switch between driving modes, from subdued to aggressive, depending on conditions. As with other Porsche models, sport+ also includes a launch-control function that is able to blast this near two-tonne Panamera from standstill to 100 km/h in a claimed 4,5 seconds. Selecting sport+ lowers the GTSs ride height via the standard PASM (adaptive suspension management).
Perhaps the best compliment one can pay to the Panamera range is that, despite its exterior dimensions (designed with the comfortable transportation of four adults, with luggage, in mind), the car instantly feels smaller than it is from behind the steering wheel. In the GTS, the default ride is slightly firmer than the 4S, but that’s exactly how it should be. The lower, wider stance of the GTS not only affords it a more aggressive stance, but also makes the car feel even more planted (with minimal body roll) and balanced while pushing on. There’s a welcome predictability to the power delivery and, thanks to the extremely refined PDK transmission, the driver is able to seamlessly keep the engine within its optimal power range, all before settling the car back into its most comfortable driving settings, including toning down the otherwise-rude standard sports exhaust system, and rejoining the everyday hustle.
Watch a video of the Porsche Panamera GTS blasting from 0-250 km/h here.
Model: Porsche Panamera GTS
Engine: 4 806 cm3 V8 naturally aspirated
Power: 316 kW
Torque: 520 N.m
Fuel consumption: 10,9 litres/100 km
CO2: 256 g/km
Top speed: 288 km/h
0-100 km/h: 4,5 secs
Price: R1 251 000
Maintenance plan: 3 years/90 000 km