DRIVEN: New Porsche 911 GTS is more hardcore than you’d imagine
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Launch drive: Porsche 911 GTS
Cape Town - Harking back to the 904 Carrera of 1963, GTS is a brawny-sounding badge that you’ll find in most Porsche model line-ups nowadays. In theory, it hits the sweet spot in its range by providing something dynamic and enticingly quick, but with a somewhat lower price tag than the hard-core Turbo-badged models.
The formula works well in models like the Cayenne GTS, but how does it translate into Porsche’s core sportscar?
We travelled to the Western Cape recently to get to know the latest Porsche 911 GTS, which has been launched in 992 form. But before we get behind the wheel, let’s take a look at where it fits in.
The 911 GTS is available in five flavours, giving you the choice between Carrera 2 (rear-wheel drive) and Carrera 4 (all-wheel drive) formats, as well as Coupé and Cabriolet body styles. There’s also a Targa 4 model, which is available in all-paw guise only.
The GTS is powered by a variant of the familiar 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six engine, and it produces 353kW at 6500rpm and 570Nm of torque between 2 300 and 5 000 revs. This means it slots above the 331kW Carrera S and below the normally aspirated GT3, which offers 375kW, as well as the 427kW 911 Turbo and 478kW Turbo S.
Priced between R2 290 000 and R2 600 000, the Porsche 911 GTS is significantly less expensive than that aforementioned flagship, which comes in just below the R4-million mark, and it commandsonly a R270 000 premium over the Carrera S.
There’s a lot more than just a modest bump in output separating it from the latter, however. The GTS features a unique design package as well as a performance chassis, which borrows many components from the 911 Turbo, including the helper springs at the rear. The sports chassis, which lowers the car by 10mm, also boasts Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard.
You won’t easily mistake this for a regular Carrera, thanks to its darkened headlight edging, distinctive tail lights and satin black trim for the front lip spoiler and the centre-lock alloy wheels, which measure 20 inches at the front and 21 at the back.
If track days are your thing, you might want to specify the lightweight package, which cuts the curb weight by 25kg through the fitment of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic seats, lightweight glass and the removal of the back seats. The package also brings rear-axle steering to the roof-raising party.
We drove the regular Porsche 911 GTS Carrera 2 and Carrera 4 models on a predetermined route in the Western Cape, which took us through Helshoogte and Mitchell’s Pass among other varied and sometimes twisty stretches.
However, it soon became apparent that the ride quality of the GTS was on the harder side of the equation. Even with the “Normal” drive mode selected, it felt too hard, and lacked the kind of compliance that we’ve experienced in most other 911 models, and this detracts from the driving experience when you’re weaving it through bumpier sections of twisty asphalt.
It is worth noting, however, that Porsche increased the tyre pressures in our test cars to the most dynamic recommended setting, and this could have impacted the ride to a degree.
Make no mistake, the 911 GTS handles brilliantly and such is the level of grip on offer here – on dry tar at least – that there’s little reason to opt for the all-wheel-driven Carrera 4 model. The regular rear-driven version is just that good, although it is somewhat slower off the mark, which we’ll get to later. On a smooth road, the GTS is sublime and we don’t doubt that its talent would shine through even more exponentially on a race track.
What’s more, the GTS’s engine package and eight-speed PDK gearbox hit the sweet spot in all driving conditions.
Although the outputs suggest it’s the middle child of the 911 family, the GTS feels like more than that. The excitement factor is immense. Flatten the right pedal and the GTS surges forward like a scalded cat, and the sonorous exhaust note combines with this to ensure a mood-altering experience. The throttle is ultra responsive too, as is the dual-clutch gearbox which does its work with precision. Powering your way out of a corner is a mesmerising experience in this car, with the drivetrain responding to your pedal inputs like a machine gun trigger.
It goes without saying that the Porsche 911 GTS is quick in a straight line. The claimed 0-100 sprint time of 3.3 seconds for the Carrera 4 GTS is not as far from Turbo S territory as you might have expected. Keep in mind though that the rear-wheel drive model takes 4.1 seconds as it lacks the all-paw traction advantage.
The central analogue rev-counter, which is flanked on either side by circular digital displays that total five in the 911 tradition, adds to the sense of occasion, as does the unique interior package that sets the GTS apart from other 911s.
Black “Race-Tex” alcantara trim adorns big swathes of the cabin, including the seat centres, armrests, storage compartment lid and even the rim of the GT sports steering wheel, which incorporates an easy-to-reach mode switch.
You’ll also find plenty of decorative stitching in the cabin, in either Carmine Red or Crayon, while GTS logos add an extra garnish to the headrests.
Cabin tech comes in the form of the latest-generation PCM infotainment system, featuring an improved voice assistant system that was designed to recognise everyday speech. The system, which Porsche says is “more human”, is permanently online and learns new phrases.
Given that the Sport Chrono package is part of the deal, owners can also look forward to using the Track Precision App and stopwatch to measure their dynamic performance.
If you’re looking for the most balanced package in the 911 range, with everyday usability at the core of your needs, then the 911 Carrera S is probably going to be your best bet, and it will gobble up the kilometres on far-flung back roads in the utmost of comfort.
However, if you’re looking for a sportscar with a bit more fizz, and some of the dynamic attitude that defines models like the GT3, then you might gravitate towards the Porsche 911 GTS. In fact, if track days are your thing, then you might have found the perfect Porsche for you.