► New Porsche 911 Carrera GTS tested
► Fastest Carrera driven on road and track
► Watch the video review here
With such a broad array of Porsche 911s on offer, you’d be forgiven for wondering what might be the ‘sweet spot’ of the range? That ideal combination of performance, looks, purchase price and usability that shows off the best side of an already outstanding sports car.
Enter the 911 Carrera GTS. It sits right in the middle of the 911 range, leaving daylight to both the entry-level models and ballistic Turbo or GT versions. If goldilocks were to walk into her local Porsche dealer, many would have you believe that the GTS is what she’d be driving off in.
However, there’s no denying that the 911 range has evolved hugely over the last decade or so and that some models have seen a change in brief. The vast majority are turbo’d while the debate over widebody vs narrowbody has gone out the window since all 992s now sport the widest hips. Question is, where does that leave the GTS and its perfect porridge credentials?
How can you tell the GTS apart from other 911s?
For starters, all GTS models come with the Porsche Design Package, bringing darkened headlight and DRL surrounds in addition to other model-specific details such as black centre-lock alloy wheels, front spoiler lip and GTS lettering.
This theme continues in the cabin, thanks to plentiful use of black Race-Tex material and GTS detailing, as well as standard-fit Sport Chrono Package, a GT sports steering wheel and Porsche Track Precision App. An updated version of Porsche’s PCM infotainment system also features, as does remote-parking capabilities that allow you to control the operation of the car via smartphone.
What’s new for the 992 GTS?
Porsche rarely gets involved in the horsepower wars fought by its German contemporaries, yet even so the GTS has been treated to an extra 30bhp (473bhp total) and 15lb ft of torque (420lb ft total) from its 3.0-litre flat-six. That’s up 29bhp over a Carrera S, but perhaps more interestingly just 30bhp short of the GT3. Opt for the all-wheel drive, PDK equipped Carrera 4 GTS and 0-62mph is dispatched in just 3.3 seconds with top speed in excess of 190mph.
Meanwhile, the chassis of the GTS is derived from its bigger 911 Turbo brother, meaning it gets Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard, along with lowered sports suspension on Coupe and Cabriolet models. A GTS Targa is available but uses the regular PASM suspension. Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) is also thrown in and works with a an electronic or mechanical limited-slip differential depending on whether you go for the eight-speed PDK or seven-speed manual ‘box.
Optional performance enhancing kit includes Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active roll stabilisation and active rear axle steering. The latter of which is curiously standard on the lightweight package that – all in – saves 25kg thanks to carbon bucket seats and a lightweight glass and battery. And before you ask, no, you can’t have said pack without the weight increasing rear-wheel steering…
How does the GTS drive?
Like an ever so slightly sharper Porsche 911 Carrera S, in all honesty. Granted, you need to add the above options that are standard on the GTS, but otherwise the experience – on road at least – is very much the same.
Some might consider that a negative, but in truth there’s only so far Porsche can improve the Carrera S’ driving experience without stretching to the levels seen on its track-focused GT models. Everything from the steering to the pedal weights and body control is brilliantly judged in the GTS and you’re left in no doubt how, despite the power deficit, it can come so close to matching the Turbo S’ time around the Nürburgring.
That said, having driven both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive models on track at Porsche’s new Franciacorta experience centre in Northern Italy, the former still very much feels like the smartest choice. The actions of braking and turning into a corner are far cleaner and more precise without the weight of a front driveshaft (there’s 50kg between Carrera GTS and Carrera 4 GTS), while the levels of traction on offer from the rear is more than enough.
Should you start to approach said traction limits, the GTS does deliver a marginally more animated on-track experience. Chasing lap times you’ll feel note that there’s more to be had over lesser Carreras, but the penalty for misjudging an input is greater.
Ride comfort and refinement are acceptable and offer a nice balance between suppleness and body control, yet this is still a car very much designed for the smooth asphalt of its home country. Exotica from McLaren and Ferrari have, for a few years now, offered better damper tunes for the bumpy roads of the UK than 911 models that are often cited as the ultimate daily super sports car.
And the engine?
If you concentrate, you can appreciate that the standard sports exhaust system – together with less sound deadening – creates a slightly more aggressive engine note as you move through the mid-range up to the red line. Again, it’s subtle, but it fits in with the character of the lightly fettled flat-six where the extra power over a GTS is apparent if not dramatic.
And while you could spend hours extolling the virtues of a ‘pure’ 911 Carrera GTS with the 3.8-litre naturally aspirate unit, the extra torque and flexibility on offer now is welcome in everyday road driving conditions. Responses are second-to-none for a turbo unit, and the power delivery feels linear and predictable throughout the rev range.
As for gearboxes, you’ve got the choice between Porsche’s 8-speed PDK auto or a 7-speed manual (with 10mm shortened throw) – both of which are excellent. The former might not deliver the race-car quick changes of the 7-speed PDK in the GT3, but it makes up for this in ease of use and smoothness out on the road. Purists, meanwhile, will no doubt appreciate the manual even if the lower gear ratios are still a little long for UK speed limits.
You won’t be surprised to hear that the Carrera GTS is once again a finely judged halfway house between the sensible and extreme end of the 911 range. It’s focused yet practical, fast but enjoyable and has the required aesthetic tweaks to subtly remind everyone that you’re in more than just a boggo 911.
However, we’d struggle to definitively say why you should pick one over a well-specced Carrera GTS. Sure, once the options have been added there’s not a great deal of difference in price yet, that aside, the sheer brilliance of the Carrera S (and even base Carrera) dynamics mean that this GTS perhaps has a shred less relevance than ones that have come before. Make no mistake, this is a five-star car all day long, but then so is pretty much everything else from the 911 stable…
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