Driven: The new 911 Carrera GTS

There was a chill in the air, the southern suburbs clocking a mere 18″ deg C. But my heart was warm and fuzzy with expectation. Because in my hand was the key to a finely balanced street weapon. Say hello to the Gran Turismo Sport. I’m being somewhat pretentious but hey, It’s the Porsche 911 GTS. So, I think a little bit of pomp is allowed here, with a badge conceived in 1963 in the form of the 904 GTS. The moniker was reintroduced in 2010 on the 911 of its time and has since found its place on the rest of the range, from the mighty Cayenne to the sliver of speed that is the Cayman. It’s also on the Macan, but that’s another story. Let’s settle into the most iconic sliver of them all.

The GTS sits between the S and the Turbo models in that hierarchy of speed. It remains one of the purest (and purist) of drivers’ cars, and despite my bright yellow test unit’s PDK transmission being an absolute masterclass in the art of swapping cogs, Porsche still insists on offering its more die-hard supporters the option of a short-shifting seven-speed manual.

As I’m sat in the most powerful Carrera ever churned from the Porsche factory, I’m happy I can leave the gear changes to the computer. The GTS is 10mm lower than the regular Carrera, has the Turbo model’s larger braking system and then there’s the numbers. From the turbocharged three-litre flat-six, you’ll encounter 353kW and 570Nm, that’s 40Nm more than before. This equips it with a 3.3 sec blast from 0-100kph, and will ultimately top out at 311kph. So, you know, blistering.

The PASM Sports Chassis is derived from the Turbo, and benefits from similar helper springs. Peering behind those black 20/21inch wheels (also from the Turbo) you’ll find large diameter brake discs, 408mm upfront and 380mm at the rear. The Sport Design package fore and aft is complemented with dark edgings around the lamp and brightwork. Also, satin black lettering, similarly darkened diffusers and the engine lid grill. Even the pipes are tipped in black chrome. This subtle murdering means the GTS has curb presence dialed up to eleven, with matching levels of aggression. And I haven’t even swung its boxer motor into life yet.

But to do that, we’ll need to hop aboard and settle behind the GTS sports steering wheel. Besides the paddles, you’ll also have access to the ‘box via a short gear lever. The sport chrome pack is included in the GTS, as is Race-Tex fabric, which is Porsche’s take on Alcantara. You also get GTS stitching on headrest. The dashboard is dominated by the PCM 6.0 multimedia system with 10.9 inch screen – now with Apple Carplay and Android Auto. But there is a far better entertainment system and a much more acoustically pleasing soundtrack to be had, hidden behind the Start Button.

Here’s a little life hack for you. Buy the entry-level GTS. It’s rear-wheel drive, and therefore lighter and livelier and at R2.29mil represents the smart choice for low flying pilots all over. It’s the one I opted for on our mission from the suburbs to the wild west coast, before devouring some delicious asphalt to Ceres and back. The experience revealed loads. The previous GTS was a warmer, purer 911 experience. The new car however, while not quite on a knife’s edge, is undeniably sharper, louder and more visceral than ever. It’s closer to GT3 territory than before, but still quite easy to live with. On a 200km round trip comfort wasn’t too much of a concern but the road noise overtook the exhaust note on the odd occasion when we couldn’t lean on the throttle. But when a path cleared, the sensations were intoxicating. I mean a garrulous six-cylinder orchestra blowing through sport pipes, forearms full of feedback from a pointy and granular helm. A pancake-flat chassis that seems to operate on its own intuition, allowing you to flow from cambered apex to cambered apex with an idiotic grin plastered on your face.

I loved my time behind the wheel of the GTS.
Loved. I got nowhere near its potential on public roads but it made me feel like a hero all the while. And on the odd occasion when I felt the need to max out a corner or two (or five) to really test its mettle, I came away impressed. I don’t usually resort to churlish displays of power such as launch controls, but since I was already blown away with the GTS figured I may as well. And 3.4 seconds later, I was floored. Rear-driven whips endowed with this mode are typically wilder and slower than their AWD counterparts but this launch was both instantaneous and easily controlled. The 4 GTS pips the RWD car by just 0.1 seconds with a 3.3sec sprint. And my yellow car even manages to outsprint the AWD cabriolet and Targa models by 0.1 sec. Phenomenal. But ultimately this is all elementary, and my summary anything but. The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is nothing less than a high-water mark in this era of turbocharged 911s.

Quick spec: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
Price: R2,290,000
Powertrain: 3.0l turbocharged boxer, 2wd,
8-speed PDK auto
Performance: 353kW, 570Nm, 0-100kph in 3.4sec, 311kph max, 9.7l/100km fuel consumption

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