Incredibly for a car that starts at well over $200k, there are 22 different Porsche 911 models on sale in New Zealand. It’s safe to say there’s a 911 for every purpose and occasion.
But there are also some suitable for multiple purposes and occasions, and that’s where the new 911 Carrera GTS comes in. Porsche loves to reference its motorsport heritage, so no doubt the company would love me to tell you the “GTS” badge dates back to the 1963 904 GTS, with a sideways glance at something cool like the 1981 924 GTS rallied by the great Walter Rohrl. All good.
But that doesn’t really give us an insight into Porsche’s modern GTS models. What we really need to know is that after a long hiatus, the company brought back the badge on the Cayenne SUV in 2007 and has since set about creating GTS versions of pretty much everything it makes.
The new 911 Carrera GTS sits neatly in between the Carrera S and the GT3. It’s supposed to have a fat tyre in each camp: luxurious and comfortable road car that can also tackle a track day, or completely capable circuit machine that soothes you on the drive home. Whichever way around you’d like to look at it.
That’s an impossible combination of talents if you really think about it, because such a machine can’t possibly be as comfortable on the road as a Carrera S or as accomplished around a circuit as the GT3. But what’s so fascinating is how Porsche has finessed every part of the GTS to create what it sees as the best “in between” combination of talents. Finessing 911s is what Porsche is all about; you might remember that bit from earlier about there being 22 different models.
The GTS is built upwards from the Carrera S, not down from the GT3. So that means it’s powered by the twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat-six engine, but with power up from 331kW/530Nm to 353kW/570Nm. It’s still crazy-fast, with 0-100km/h in 3.3 seconds.
The suspension setup is specific to the GTS, but draws heavily upon the 911 Turbo – including “helper springs” to keep the chassis under tension at all times, or “ready for action” as the company puts it. The GTS is also 10mm lower than the Turbo.
The GTS gets the full Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) setup and the Turbo’s centre-lock wheels and brakes.
It’s quite a specific model obviously, but you can have your GTS any which way: PDK or manual (with a “particularly short throw” says Porsche), RWD or AWD, coupe or convertible. Targa even.
Our test car is the Carrera 2 with the eight-speed PDK, arguably the sweet spot between speed (PDK is faster, remember) and driver involvement.
On the road, it’s clear Porsche has ramped up the aggression of the GTS substantially over previous models. It’s not just the extra power over the Carrera S, it’s the noticeably firmer suspension and more raucous soundtrack: that’s partly thanks to the sports exhaust and partly because Porsche has removed some of the interior sound insulation from the Carrera in the transition to GTS.
Too much? That’s a matter of personal taste. It’s still a sublime road car, but it’s clear Porsche wants to push the GTS a little more towards the track than previous iterations.
Speaking of which; given the stated purpose of this new 911, we thought it rude not to hit the track for at least a few laps, so we spent a morning at the Hampton Downs Club Circuit in the GTS.
It really does come alive on the track. Those things that make the 911 such a special road car – the bark of the flat six, that engine-heavy rear end that squirms and squats – really start to spark joy when you have the freedom of a circuit to play on.
You can even specify a Lightweight Design Package for the coupe that strips 25kg out of the car: thinner glass, Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) buckets up front, no rear chairs and a lithium-ion battery. Is that a step too far? Possibly, but it does confirm that Porsche wants the GTS to have more of a “race face” now. And if you don’t think you’ll want to do the odd track day, there’s always the $30k-cheaper Carrera S.
PORSCHE 911 CARRERA GTS
ENGINE: 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol flat six
GEARBOX: 8-speed automated dual-clutch (PDK), RWD
0-100KM/H: 3.3 seconds