The place of the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is plain. It’s designed to slot between the everyday 911 Carrera S and the track-day 911 GT3.
WHAT IS IT?
Another variation on the current 991.2 version of the iconic 911 sports car. What makes the GTS different is a dash of added power (and noise), extra distance between the rear wheels, a fraction less ground clearance and lashings of Alcantara inside. This specification is to be offered in Coupe, Cabriolet and Targa bodies.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
To find out, some way ahead of the GTS’s Australian launch, if this is a worthy addition to the already lengthy 911 line-up.
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THE WHEELS REVIEW
Chasing Porsche driving instructor Matthias Hoffsümmer is always educational, but the previous driver of the 911 Carrera 4 GTS I’m in left the two-way in the door pocket turned up to the max. I can understand almost nothing of what Matthias the Quick is saying. The high volume distortion makes him seen excited … or maybe angry.
So I simply try to keep the broad tail of the 911 Turbo he’s driving in sight as he leads me and one other Australian around Killarney Raceway. This 3.3km track outside Cape Town in South Africa has the same cheap and dusty feel of some old-school Australian circuit, including the skimpy run-off areas. The reason Porsche has chosen this place to launch the new GTS line-up is simple. It’s summer time down here in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are only six laps, including a sighter and a cool-down, to get the measure of my 911 Carrera 4 GTS. The squawking radio seems to admonish me for missing the apex of Killarney’s quick kink. And I curse myself when I get into the left-hander at the end of the pit straight way too hot and the Porsche slews briefly sideways after turn-in.
In the brief periods where things aren’t going awry, there’s time to make some mental notes about the GTS. Its chassis control electronics in Sport Plus mode are excellent, obviously, judging by the way they unfussily tidied up my corner entry mess.
When grave errors of judgement aren’t happening, the Porsche’s grip seems almost inexhaustible. There might be a hint of understeer sensed through the Alcantara-wrapped rim of the steering wheel on the way into corners, but the stability of the Carrera 4 GTS as it accelerates out of them feels unshakeable.
The drivetrain, too, is brilliant. The twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat six has the same precise, linear responsiveness of those in the Carrera and Carrera S, and the seven-speed PDK transmission is flawless in the circuit environment. And because the GTS has the sports exhaust system that’s optional in lesser models, it sounds wonderful.
The other essential tech details of the 911 GTS are fairly simple. Different turbochargers and extra boost give the engine a 22kW increase over the current S (and a 15kW advantage over the atmo engine of the previous GTS). The car also packs a 44mm-wider rear track beneath broader guards borrowed from the all-wheel-drive. The suspension is 10mm lower than the Carrera S, and there are some GTS-specific interior touches beyond the Alcantara mentioned earlier.
The GTS treatment will be offered in rear-drive and all-wheel-drive versions of the Carrera and Carrera S Coupe and Cabriolet, and the all-wheel-drive-only 911 Targa. There will be a choice of seven-speed manual or seven-speed PDK auto in all. Prices will begin at $279,000 for a Carrera GTS Coupe with manual and top-out at $323,990 for the Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet and Targa 4 GTS models with PDK. Throughout the range GTS prices are around $25,000 to $30,000 above equivalent S models.
When the GTS line-up is added to the rest of the Porsche 911 range sometime around May, customers will face a choice of around 30 body style and powertrain combinations. But this complexity doesn’t daunt or baffle Porsche customers, apparently.
“There was a gap between Carrera S and GT3, and now we close it,” says 911 model line director Thomas Krickelberg. “I think that the gap is perfect between them. We know that some customers would like to have the 911 a little bit more sporty, but they don’t want the GT3 because it’s too extreme for day-to-day use.”
“Our customers are very conservative,” Krickelberg continues. “They take the order from last time and they go to the dealer.” Around 85 percent of 911 buyers are repeat customers, he estimates. “And those customers who are new, they know very well what they want, because they have friends and they get all the information … ‘Buy that’ or ‘Order that’.”
While there isn’t really an awful 911, some are much more desirable than others. The loud and low, fast and feisty Carrera 4 GTS with PDK deserves a place much nearer the top than the bottom of the rankings table. If you want to know about the others, then go chase Matthias the Quick and find out for yourself…
Model: Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS
Engine: 2981cc flat six, dohc, 24v, biturbo
Max power: 331kW at 6500rpm
Max torque: 550Nm at 2150 to 5000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed double-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.6sec (claimed)
Fuel economy: 8.5L/100km (European combined cycle)
On sale: Second quarter 2017