Car reviews - Porsche - 911 - Carrera GTS range
Sublime chassis dynamics and suspension compliance/control, incisive steering, strong performance, flawless build
Room for improvement
Sedate soundtrack unless extended, loud coarse-chip road noise, extensive options leaves GTS nudging GT3 territory
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20 Jun 2017
SWEET spot. It has long been used as a term to denote a vehicle of balanced qualities, usually sports and luxury, but in this case road-going and race-tracking ability. The 911 GTS continues with two steps in the camp of the 911 and 911 S but with more than a toe in the water of a 911 GT3.
From the outside it certainly continues to add sizzle over its more affordable stablemates.
That mostly comes through in the 44mm-wider body that pumps the back hips of the 911 Carrera GTS’ to house the 40mm-broader rear track and huge 305mm-wide, 20-inch tyres. In the Coupe only, the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) gets a sportier profile with 20mm lower ride height versus a 911 S, and 10mm lower than Cabriolet and Targa.
Tick the optional all-wheel steering – which pivots the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts below 50km/h to aid agility, and the same way as the fronts above 80km/h to enhance stability – and this 3.6 second 0-100km/h 911 (Carrera GTS Coupe with PDK) gets very serious.
The sinewy multi-spoke 911 Turbo S rims, darkened tail-lights and black badging all join to hint at sports, matched by an Alcantara-clad 360mm-diameter GT Sports steering wheel and other trim pieces inside.
Unlike with a 911 or 911 S, the likes of a switchable sports exhaust, launch control and two-mode damping – for Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) – are standard, so the 911 GTS appears very ‘complete’ from the start.
Porsche engineering quality oozes from the moment a backside is placed inside, with a perfectly low and sporting driving position, and rich detailing such as the immaculately damped flip-out door pockets and subtle circular trip computer/nav screen, all trumping showy glitz and glamour.
The new touchscreen – now with Apple CarPlay, digital radio and Bose audio, in addition to satellite navigation – is of the high-resolution and intuitive variety, while (child-only) rear seats are retained in addition to a front boot to ensure this 911 stays liveable and just a little bit practical.
We tested the two-wheel-drive Coupe and Cabriolet, as well as the Targa 4, across a variety of roads, and all have now successfully graduated in GTS form from ‘quite fast’ to ‘extremely fast’.
Even with only drive to two wheels on greasy, wet surfaces, the linear nature of this 3.0-litre turbo completely avoids the spiky delivery of, say, a BMW M4.
With the seven-speed dual-clutch PDK – no manuals were available at launch – delivering crisp and rapid-fire gearshifts that especially proved intuitive in Sport+ mode and manual mode (accessed via the tipshifter or paddle shifters), the way the 911 Carrera GTS Coupe found traction was astounding.
Those tyres toss up near-deafening country-road roar at speed, and if only a little bit of that could be subtracted, and a sweeter engine noise added, then this would be close to driving perfection.
The 3.0-litre turbo does not sound bad, with a smooth six-pot note overlaid with some whoosh and hiss, but nor does it cause the driver to blurt profanities like the old 3.8-litre did as it soared towards 8000rpm. Despite 550Nm of torque being made from 2150rpm until 5000rpm, the engine loves extending past its 331kW power peak (at 6500rpm) towards its 7500rpm cut-out, the flat-six sounding best at the upper end of the tachometer, refusing to feel flat, and sounding (finally) sweet.
It is the steering, suspension and chassis of this 4528mm-long, 1450kg-plus 911 GTS that is now even more inspiring, however.
How PASM can maintain beautiful compliance and control in normal mode, and only subtly tighten the screws in Sport, is sheer genius and fairly flawless. Road noise aside – and some boom from the wrap-around back glass of the Targa body style – the GTS can play tourer as well as it can sportscar.
Wet roads and fabulous electronic stability control (ESC) tuning meant there was no need to even engage Sport ESC, as the Porsche deftly and delicately pivoted between its axles through bends.
When the roads dried, swapping to the Cabriolet saw no meaningful loss of rigidity, or overall ability, while the tightest, country-road switchback section of the national media launch was greeted by a simply stunning performance from the Targa 4.
This is no boring all-wheel-drive system. On turn-in to the tightest corners the chatty chassis begs to be driven in harder and deeper, finding poise and balance and signalling that plenty of throttle can then be used for an early exit. Do so, and the 911 Targa 4 GTS wiggles into line, squats, and fires.
Porsche might be accused of having too many options available on the 911 GTS at this price – including keyless auto-entry, power adjustable steering column, lane-keep assistance and active cruise control – but this is a sportscar that thrives beyond a specification sheet.
It simply oozes driving integrity beyond bleeping driving aids that often disguise a lesser chassis.
Whether the 911 GTS range, which with a few options comes very close to the price of a 911 GT3, is aurally inspiring enough remains the only point of contention. The lust factor of the naturally-aspirated version is not quite retained, but in isolation this more-than-S, less-than-GT3 model grade still delivers a masterful blend of daily-driver qualities, and those that shine beyond the ‘burbs.
And that continues to sound like the definition of a middle-tier sweet-spot in the range.
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