Although not the most sweet-handling 911, it is a remarkable dynamic versatility and body control. It also delivers big-hitting real world performance.
What is it?
Porsche’s latest special 911 derivative, the GTS, has been around for more than a decade. But you might be wondering if anyone else, other than those who bought or sold them, noticed. Modern GTS models existed before the “997”, of course, in the Panamera showrooms and Cayenne showrooms. There have also been other GTS models since, among the Macan and 718 models. This is an interesting equation. Is the 911 GTS “a thing”?
We expect and anticipate a new 911 GT3, just like we expect a Turbo or a whole new 911 model-generation debut. A 911 GTS? It almost feels like a mid-range trim.
It may not last long, as Porsche has put more effort into this new GTS ‘992’ than any of its predecessors. There are two new GTS versions, the Carrera Coupe, Cabriolet and Targa. One can choose from one or two driven axles; eight manually-shuffled or automatically selected ‘PDK’ gear ratios are available for the same price.
The last GTS was mechanically similar to a Carrera S with an optional ‘PASM Sport suspension and engine power upgrade kit. However, the new GTS has a notable price increase and a significantly different suspension specification.
The GTS’s engine compartment uses an upgraded version of the turbocharged 3.0-litre flat six that powers the standard ‘992 Carrera. It produces an additional 30 horsepower and has a similar advantage in torque. The engine is heard through the specially tuned active exhaust and can be heard inside the cabin due to the elimination of much of the noise insulation from the regular model.
The biggest difference is in the suspension specifications. Instead of starting with Carrera S axles then working up, Porsche built this GTS from the suspension hardware and running gear used by the Turbo. The GTS is 10mm lower than a Carrera S and has the same body width as the Turbo. It also features Turbo-specification-uprated iron brakes and Turbo-derived suspension. These dampers will be added to the Turbo and Turbo S models in their next model year revisions. You can already guess that they are pretty damn good.
The exterior markings of the new GTS are identical to the previous model: black badges, alloy wheels, and lots of oh so-2021’dark Chrome’ styling elements. If you are a fan of darkened faux rollover hoops, the Targa also gets one. Inside, you’ll find a GT-specification steering column, lots of Race-Tex’ suede upholstery and – if the car is a manual, a two-pedal PDK car – a slightly stubbier transmission than the Carrera S, which allows for a quicker, shorter shift action. The all-new Porsche Communication Management 6.0 infotainment system features deep integration with Apple Music and Podcasts, as well wired smartphone mirroring (finally) for Android phones.
Porsche offers a variety of dynamics-enhancing options including lightweight carbon-ceramic brakes and active anti-roll bars. You can get four-wheel steering as part of Porsche’s Lightweight Package if you buy a GTS Coupe. This package cuts 25kg off the GTS’s homologated kerbweight through the fitting of carbonfibre bucket seating, lightweight glazing, and the jettisoning the car’s occasional rear seats – along with aerodynamic tweaks to its bodywork. This package was included in our test car, and it reminded us that Weissach’s bucket seats are among the most comfortable fixed-backrest sports chairs of their type anywhere in the world. These buckets look tough, but they can be used for 500 miles without any complaints.
The GTS’s recipe still sounds very “mini-GT3”, doesn’t it? It was just what Porsche dealers needed to offer buyers who couldn’t afford the highly sought-after real deal. The new car is much more pleasant to drive on the roads than Porsche’s trackday special. It can be a bit faster, smoother, and grippier than the regular ‘992’ but it’s not any less smooth or supple.
It’s more powerful and dramatic than the Carrera S, which should please those who had considered the regular ‘992’ to be a little dull and uninteresting. The GTS has a more immediate acceleration through the mid-range, more free-revving flexibility beyond 6000rpm, and a more convincing Porsche-typical turbine howl when the exhaust valves are fully opened and the throttle is flexed. This is all you need. Although a little turbo lag can be seen under sudden, large pedal applications, it is not enough to ruin the fun.
The GTS’s chassis modifications, however, provide the GTS with sharpened body control and increased handling precision, as well as a Carrera S-like body control. It also has exceptional high-speed vertical body control. The car’s composure at motorway speeds is exceptional. The car is soft enough to absorb a longer-wave, fast-moving lump but dense enough to feel virtually no rebound. It moves only enough to show you its weight, but not more. And it never does this aggressively or repeatedly. It is brilliantly judged.
Do I need one?
The GTS chassis may have a fault if it is too serious. It can be too precise, grippy and taut and requires a lot of effort to understand its limits.
The car can go at any speed on the road without having to worry about its stability control. It may even start to move much more beneath you. The handling on track becomes more funky and lively as the tyres warm up, but it takes a lot of dedication. A lower-series performance derivative with a lower speed is not as accessible and provides more driver engagement.
The GTS is for you if you are looking for a 911 that’s expressive and delicate, but it might not be the most sweet. However, the GTS is a still car that can entertain you on the road and put in a similar world-class performance on circuits.
The GT3 and Turbo Porsche models have moved into hardercore and more rarefied territory than they ever were before. However, there is a place for a car with the same first-rate performance and deep-seated composure as the GTS in the current 911 model line-up. It’s now possible to argue that the 911 GTS is needed in a way that it didn’t exist a generation ago. And, just like that it’s become a car with a lot more clarity and care, and which deserves a special following.