Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review

Published:19 November 2010

Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

This is the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS, and it has the potential to be the best all-round 911 yet. An engine upgrade boosts power and torque; it uses the more seductive wide body from the four-wheel drive models; and features a whole host of other options for not much more cash than a standard Carrera S.

Yes, we know the GT3 and GT3 RS are more usable than ever thanks to PASM adaptive dampers, but Cup-type tyres mean they can be a handful in the wet, and the big wings are a bit OTT too. This 400bhp-plus 911 might be brilliant. Read on for CAR’s first drive of the new Porsche 911 Carrera GTS, in both coupe and cabriolet forms.

So just what is the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS?

It’s a Porsche 911 Carrera S, turned up a notch or two. Tweak number one is to the engine, and the GTS uses the Powerkit pack that’s an option on the Carrera S and standard on the Speedster and Sport Classic. A special intake manifold, with six rather than one single flap, switches between power and torque-optimised maps. Result? The output of the 3.8-litre flat six is up from 380bhp at 6500rpm to 402bhp at 7300rpm, and although the torque figure remains at 310lb ft, it’s produced 200rpm lower and plumps up the rest of the mid-range too.

The 62mph time drops a tenth on both the coupe and cabriolet, to 4.6 and 4.7 seconds respectively. And you can shave another 0.2 seconds if you opt for PDK, and a further two-tenths if you spec the Sport Chrono Plus pack with launch control. And the fuel consumption and emission figures remain unchanged, regardless of what body or gearbox you go for.

There is also the SportDesign nose with a little black spoiler, black sills from the GT2 RS, and the 44mm wider rear body from the Carrera 4 – the GTS is rear-drive – which hides a 32mm wider rear track. There are fatter rear tyres too, revised springs and anti-roll bars, plus black-painted 19in RS Spyder wheels, that would otherwise set you back £3329.

Other additions include Carrera GTS logos (in black or silver depending on your choice of paint), a black diffuser, and Alcantara trimming on the three-spoke steering wheel, handbrake and gearlever. The coupe doesn’t have any back seats either, but you can have the two tiny rear pews if you want as a no-cost option; it’s the lack of rear seats that helps make the coupe GTS 5kg lighter than the equivalent Carrera S. Porsche’s adaptive PASM suspension is thrown in too, along with a sports exhaust, and a bigger fuel tank (up from 67 to 90 litres) is a free option too.

The Powerkit is a £8241 option on a normal £74,606 Carrera S, so with the engine tweaks, the wider body, the exhaust, and the interior extras, the £76,758 that Porsche wants for the GTS seems like an absolute bargain. A GTS Cabriolet is £83,493, just £1359 more than a boggo Carrera S drop-top, and an even better deal.

How does the Power 911 Carrera GTS drive?

We tried two different versions of the GTS, a strange cabriolet combination of steel brakes, a manual gearbox and carbonfibre bucket seats, and a coupe with the optional ceramic brakes.

And the former disappointed. As with a Powerkit-equipped 911, the extra mid-range oomph means the more powerful engine is more linear and less exciting, without the crescendo of the standard 3.8-litre lump. And the differences in acceleration are fairly marginal when you’re in the heavier cabriolet. Even with the roof down you can’t really detect much difference when you switch between the exhaust’s two modes either: there’s maybe a bit of extra bass at low revs, and some more wail at high rpm, but it’s negligible.

The more I drove the cabriolet, the more I wondered if there really was any difference between it and a normal open-top Carrera S. How minute were the changes? Without a back-to-back, same day, same stretch of road comparison, I really couldn’t tell.

But the hardtop was mega. As soon as you climb aboard it feels better, with a roof enclosing you and focussing your mind, and the lack of back seats doing the same. After just the first corner you know the steering is better, more alive and analogue, with more feedback through the thin Alcantara rim – incidentally, the GTS is the first car that has the paddleshift-style steering wheel available for manual cars, and with narrower spokes it’s nicer to hold. And speaking of paddles, they are standard (instead of the awful buttons) if you opt for the £2472 PDK ‘box, but while every other control weighting in Porsche’s sports cars is perfect, these are curiously lacking any tactility.

You can’t say that about the brakes though. Both the steel and ceramic brakes are easy to modulate, but the latter are epically good and just don’t fade on long, fast downhill sections punctuated by tight corners. With the other savings you’re making, you may as well drop £5349 on them.

The coupe was just brilliant. With a stiffer body than the drop-top the nose bobbles around a little more, and it’s more alert and reactive to throttle changes, especially in corners – the softer, less rigid cabriolet has bit more flex to soak up the road. It's always best to leave the PASM system in Normal rather than Sport, but while the springs have been uprated, the damping has been left alone so there's still enough compliance. It’s wonderfully small and easy to place, lovely to drive at low speeds, even better when you go faster, keen to change direction, precise and so involving. And it just felt more interactive than the oh-so-slightly-staid Powerkit Carrera S I drove recently.

Verdict

Even if there was no difference at all between a Carrera S and a GTS, the thousands of pounds of extra kit would make it worth plumping for. That it’s a better car, or the coupe is at least (the cabriolet felt rather flat in comparison, and like a completely different car), makes it an absolute bargain. A GT3 is still a different beast, and I'd have one and stick on a set of regular tyres. But there's nothing wrong with the GTS. Get one, and hammer a decent discount out of your dealer as the new 911 is less than 12 months away.

The only real pity is that Porsche didn't take the GTS a step or two further, fit aluminium doors, cut out some other weight, and make this 911 even better. It's greater than the some of its parts, but you also know that almost all of those parts aren't unique to the GTS.   

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Specs

Price when new: £76,758
On sale in the UK: December 2010 (figures for GTS coupe)
Engine: 3800cc 24v flat six, 402bhp @ 7300rpm,310lb ft @ 4200-5600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.6sec 0-62mph, 190mph, 26.6mpg, 250g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1420kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4435/1852/1300

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  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
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  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review
  • Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (2010) review

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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