Car reviews - Porsche - 911 - Carrera GTS
Supremely capable dynamics, eager engine, smooth-shifting PDK, usable rear seats, subtle styling
Room for improvement
Firm ride can get annoying over long distances, optional fixed-back seats are anything but comfortable, limits nowhere near approachable on road, lack of storage space
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26 Feb 2018
By TUNG NGUEYN
PORSCHE’S 911 has long been held up as the pinnacle of motoring perfection for its sharp handling, plush interior and, now in its current guise, the added efficiency and pull of a turbocharged engine.
The GTS badge however, represents the final step up from the base Carrera and S variants before the track-honed GT3 – making it arguably the ultimate road-going 911.
More power from the force-fed flat six, a lower ride height, wider body and track, and bigger brakes round out the mechanical upgrades, but the price also rises for the privilege of the GTS badge.
Porsche also reckons they are struggling to hold them in stock too, with every GTS they are able to get their hands on selling faster than an upshift of a dual-clutch PDK transmission.
Is the Porsche 911 GTS as good as it gets on the road?
Price and Equipment
While Porsche’s perennial 911 range kicks off with the Carrera for $220,900 before on-roads and the Carrera S wears a $256,000 sticker price, the next-level GTS kicks it up to $282,400.
Our test car though, rang up the till at a sizeable $339,230 thanks to inclusion of a number of goodies such as fixed-back sports bucket seats ($8290), GTS Alcantara pack ($8140), Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control ($7690), front axle lift system ($5490), rear axle steering ($5490), sunroof ($4990) and a sports chrono stopwatch ($850).
While the base car comes with a seven-speed manual shifter (yep, seven ratios!), our test car was fitted with a quick-shifting Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch automatic transmission with the same number of gears for $7390.
As standard, the 911 GTS comes with 20-inch alloy wheels finished in black, darkened tail-lights and front grille.
Adaptive headlights, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and 7.0-inch colour infotainment screen with satellite navigation, Apply CarPlay and premium Bose sound system are also standard fare.
Storage space, as expected of a two-door sportscar, is a little lacking, with the 911 GTS offering a front trunk capable of swallowing 385 litres, or enough for about two overnight bags.
The GTS also makes more power than the Carrera and Carrera S (more on that below), while also promising a more engaging drive thanks to a lowered height and wider body to accommodate thicker rubber (more on that even further down).
The price puts the 911 GTS right up against the $298,711 Mercedes-AMG GT S, while on paper a performance rival can be found in the $299,000 Nissan GT-R Nismo.
While performance is the Porsche 911 GTS’ defining characteristic, it is also a premium sportscar with fantastic in-cabin fit and finishes.
Touch points feel supple and top-end, especially the Alcantara dashboard and carbon-fibre highlights throughout, however we felt that some elements were at odds with the premium German badging.
Abysmal storage compartments in the door pockets, fold out cupholders that struggle to hold on to anything but a small bottle and a centre storage cubby with an unintuitive opening mechanism leave us a little cold.
Small details such as a steering wheel devoid of any infotainment controls, as well as plasticky indicator stalks and switchgear buttons also do nothing to lift the interior ambience.
The central infotainment system has a few too many buttons and would have greatly appreciated the larger unit found on its Panamera sibling.
But, then again, the Porsche 911 GTS isn’t about any of that is it?A more complex interior would just take the attention away from the best aspect of the 911 GTS, and that is the drive.
From the seating position that enables the view of the bulbous front arches to the large tachometer positioned front and centre, the most important aspects of the interior are all designed around feeding into the driver’s senses.
While the optional, fixed-back seats do a fantastic job of communicating the finer details of the road – down to the very texture of the road surface – and hug you nice and tightly around the hips, they do get a little overbearing in long-distance driving.
Ingress and egress over the large thigh bolsters can also be tricky in the low slung coupe, even for the young, lithe and nimble.
If we were buying one, we’d keep the stock seats in place to make it more on-road friendly. However, for those that may not drive their GTS every day, or for those that dabble in some track work, the optional seats add a nice level of ‘hardcore’ to the car.
The rear pews are all but useable, except for adults on the shorter end of the spectrum or small children.
While our 185cm frame fit in the rear seats with enough leg and headroom to be comfortable, we wouldn’t like to stay back there for prolonged periods of driving given the hard ride.
Engine and transmission
The Porsche 911 GTS is powered by a new 3.0-litre turbocharged flat six that makes 331kW at 6500rpm and 550Nm from 2150 to 5000rpm, meaning outputs are only trumped by the hardcore GT3, supercar-baiting Turbo and Turbo S, and flagship GT2 RS.
Power and torque are boosted over the Carrera that makes 272kW/450Nm and the Carrera S on 309kW/500Nm.
Performance is definitely the 911 GTS’ forte, with zero to 100km/h coming as quick as 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 310km/h – not that we had an opportunity to test either in our brief time with the car on Melbourne roads.
And therein lies the biggest problem with owning a 911 GTS, the limits of its performance capabilities can never be thoroughly explored away from a racetrack setting.
Twisting country backroads, late night runs down Chapel Street, city traffic, even freeway on ramps don’t present even a hint of a challenge for the $300,000 sportscar, but the way the Porsche delivers the power is just simply addictive.
There is a finesse to it all though, as a prod of the throttle will awaken the 3.0-litre firecracker nestled just behind the rear seats in much the same way a coiled snake is roused – angry.
Carefully depressing the go pedal though, means thrust comes on smoothly and predictably, while Porsche has to be commended for tuning the turbocharged engine in a way where there is nearly an unperceivable amount of turbo lag.
The theatre of the GTS just gets even better with the optional exhaust fitted and when the car is switched to a racier mode.
Upshifts are greeted by a thunder clap from the rear end, while the crackle on overrun may as well be a fired volley from a semi-automatic assault rifle.
The 911’s PDK dual-clutch automatic has a reputation as being one of the best in the business, deservedly so.
Quick-shifting up and down, in both automatic and manual mode, as well as torque available so early in the rev range, makes picking gears nearly superfluous – the drivetrain works so cleverly together to offer thrust at just about any speeds.
While no doubt having the three pedal version would make for a more engaging drive, the automatic version is quicker to shift and leaves the driver free to concentrate on, arguably, more important things like clipping that apex or applying just the right amount of opposite lock.
This is definitely one example where we’d prefer the automatic over the manual.
Fuel economy is a claimed 8.7 litres per 100km, while we managed 11.3L/100km in our brief time in the car with the vast majority of our driving through inner-city Melbourne traffic.
Ride and handling
With a 300kW-plus engine mounted in the rear sending power to the rear wheels, the 911 should be a complete handful in the corners, but thanks to Porsche’s years of refinement and sportscar expertise, the GTS is simply sublime.
Millimetre precise steering, suspension that never unsettles and simply the most communicative chassis we’ve ever experienced is all part of the GTS package.
It feels as though no public road would ever come close to getting the 911 GTS unstuck. It handles the twisties just as confidently and easily as Tony Hawk will carve up a halfpipe.
Thanks to Pirelli P-Zero tyres measuring 305/30 in the rear and 245/35 front, the GTS sticks to the tarmac with supreme confidence, allowing drivers to put power down early out of a corner and, because of the feedback from the chassis, levels of rear-end grip can simply be gauged from the seat of your pants.
The GTS handles almost telepathically, it is seriously next level stuff that easily justifies its $300,000 pricetag.
Although at no risk of coming unstuck, it is comforting to know the brakes are taken care of by six-pot grabbers up front and four-pot units in the rear, with the discs measuring 350mm and 330mm respectively.
Unfortunately, the handling comes at the cost of ride comfort and everyday user friendliness.
We can only imagine what the GTS is capable of in closed circuit conditions, but out on inner-city roads it feels a little like Albert Einstein teaching second grade mathematics – wasted potential.
The ride is stiff, even uncomfortable we’d say, over Melbourne’s less than perfect suburban roads and your bum will not thank-you for driving over tram lines and level crossings – especially in the optional fixed-back bucket seats.
We might caution that the 911 GTS is better suited as a weekend cruiser or track-day toy for those with access to another car rather than a daily commuter, but for those willing to put up with a hard ride – or have access to perfectly smooth roads on the way to work – the Porsche would make for an undeniably fun and engaging drive.
Safety and servicing
The Porsche 911 does not have a listed Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash test, nor is it listed on Euro NCAP.
However, as standard, the 911 GTS sports anti-lock brakes, four airbags, reversing camera, electronic stability control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, and tyre pressure monitoring system.
Safety features that can be optioned include the Porsche Vehicle Tracking System Plus, fire extinguisher, adaptive cruise control and a front axle lift kit to raise the nose when approaching steep inclines.
While it may seem like our impression of the GTS is not overly positive, we don’t want there to be any confusion – this 911 is one of the most supremely capable, outright rewarding and completely engaging drives we’ve experienced.
The sport-on mechanical set-up of the 911 GTS makes it the perfect tool for a sporting blast, but sadly not all will have access (or the courage) to steer the Porsche in an environment to make the most of its abilities – the racetrack.
For those wanting an utterly enthralling time behind the wheel, and don’t mind a small sacrifice in comfort, it doesn’t get much better than a Porsche 911 GTS.
Mercedes-AMG GT S from $298,711
384kW/670Nm from a Affalterbach’s ubiquitous twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 easily trumps the 911 GTS, but the front-engined, rear-drive package – and more than 100kg heavier kerb weight – means the GT S is 0.2 seconds slower to 100km/h from a standstill. Two seats also mean you can’t bring three friends along for the ride.
Nissan GT-R Nismo from $299,000
Nissan has long-touted the 911 as the yardstick from which it measures its all-wheel-drive supercoupe. 441kW/652Nm easily outclasses the GTS, as does the hardcore track-honed suspension and aero, but the 911 is much easier to live with and comes with a premium German badge.
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