Double Apex got to sample the latest Porsche 911 Carrera GTS derivatives, which were just introduced into the local market, on the South African national ride and drive event.

The GTS badge has a long history for Porsche going back to the Targo Florio-winning 904 GTS of the mid-1960s. While these letters have special significance in motorsport, it wasn’t until 2010 when it was first applied to a 911 road car, more specifically, the 997. Up until that point, if you wanted a more sporty 911 (sounds odd, we know) you had to opt for the hardcore GT3 or the range-leading Turbo derivatives.

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Porsche has a tradition of product differentiation. Since the 997, the GTS treatment has been applied to the recently replaced 991 generation and now to the 992. Oh, and you can have a GTS version of just about each Porsche model line on sale today.

New line

Prior to the 992, one could spec a Carrera to create (maybe inadvertently) a GTS, just without the badges to say so. But ordering a GTS allowed one to get all the sporty goodies, and bespoke styling, in one cost-effective package. That is no longer the case as the 911 GTS is now a standalone car with several items that make it unique – we’ll outline them below.

Porsche South Africa has added five 911 GTS versions to its sportscar portfolio. There are two coupes and two cabriolets, each available with rear- or all-wheel-drive for a total of four. The fifth variant is a 911 Targa GTS, which is only available in AWD guise.


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GTS specific appearance

One can easily spot 911 GTS versions thanks to their bespoke styling cues that take the shape of black contrasting bodywork elements. Black is used on the spoiler lip, darkened headlight surrounds, engine cover louvres, and the GTS lettering on the doors and badge on the engine cover. Incidentally, the rear spoiler pops up at speed or can be raised by a button on the console. 

Read our driving review of the latest 911 Turbo S at this link.

The same dark hue is used liberally on the interior. Standard sport seats feature black Race-Tex fabric on the centre panels. The same material is applied to the steering wheel rim, door handles and armrests. The seatbelts and embroidered GTS lettering on the headrests, rev counter and Sport Chrono clock can all be finished in contrasting red or grey. Porsche has also reduced the level of insulation in the cabin to let the engine noise filter into the cabin – more on this in a bit.

Technically different

911 GTS versions typically have a power bump over regular 911s. In the case of the latest range the power hike is 22 kW over a Carrera S, largely due to an increase in boost pressure to 1,33 bars. That means the turbocharged flat-six motor now cranks out 353 kW of peak power and 570 N.m (+20) of maximum torque. Drive is transferred via Porsche’s eight-speed dual-clutch transmission or a seven-speed manual, if you prefer, at no extra cost.

GTS variants typically have a more sporty set-up than ‘normal’ 911, though not as racy or hardcore as the race-bred GT3. (Click here to read about the recently launched 911 GT3 Touring.) 911 GTSs feature specific suspension, with a ride height reduced by 10 mm. There are also larger alloys fitted as standard. These 20-inch (front) and 21-inch (rear) centre-lock alloys, also in black, are borrowed from the 911 Turbo. The high-performance braking system has also been lifted from the range leader. 408 mm front/380 mm rear discs are clamped by six-piston aluminium calipers on the front axle and four-piston calipers on the rear.

(Read up how quick the 911 Turbo S is in independent testing.)

The rear-wheel drive PDK-equipped version can sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in 3,4 seconds, the all-wheel-drive requires a tenth less. From there on out the 4 GTS lags behind the GTS in the sprinting stakes by fractions of a second perhaps due to the 50 kg of extra mass is has to haul. In terms of top speed the GTS does a claimed 311 km/h and the 4 GTS manages 309 km/h.

More below the gallery…

  • Porsche 911 GTS Derivatives Driven
  • Porsche 911 GTS Derivatives Driven 1

On the road

We got to drive two of the 911 Carrera GTS derivatives at the South African national media launch: the rear-driven GTS and all-wheel-drive 4 GTS, both in hard-top guise. From a stylistic viewpoint the the cars really stand out, particularly in brighter shades, if public reaction was anything to go by. There were countless mobile phone-wielding folks trying to snap a pic or a video of our fleet of brand new 911s making their way through morning traffic.

The route took us from the city out to the open flowing stretches of the Swartland wine region on our way to Stellenbosch and back. These are the kinds of roads your typical 911 buyer would by enjoying on a Sunday morning drive. The 911 GTSs are made for the open road and here they shine.

Power delivery from the twin-turbocharged flat-six is near instantaneous with no hint of lag, probably thanks to the high-ish 10,2:1 compression ratio. The immediacy of the shifts from the eight-speed transmission also helps exploit the 570 N.m of torque, that can feel brutal when it downshifts multiple gears on a full throttle. Oh, and the reduced insulation is definitely noticeable as the flat-six woofle reminds one of older, aircooled 911s. In the upper reaches of the rev-range the standard sports exhaust emits a howl that floods the rear of the cabin; the last 1 000 r/min up to 7 500 is particularly scintillating.

Firm but not harsh

The sports suspension and low profile tyres are great when the going gets twisty but over ruts and small undulations they really do make their presence felt. Porsche also had the tyre pressures turned up to max load for our drive, which could explain the firmness. However, the ride never disintegrates to crashy and there was never a loss of traction, even at speed over mid-corner bumps.

On the curvy bits the GTS shine. We tackled a few twisty sections on our drive and both versions of the GTS we drove delivered grin-inducing dynamics and high lateral Gs (to the detriment of my passenger’s tummy). Given the choice we’d opt for the lighter GTS, the all-wheel-drive doesn’t feel any faster or more hunkered down than the rear-wheel-drive sibling, not in perfectly dry conditions at road speeds.

Summary

Over lunch with Porsche representatives we were told that a rear-wheel-drive PDK-equipped GTS is the most popular selling 911 in SA, which makes complete sense. This mid-spec car offers standout looks and a level of dynamism that most will relish in, rather than the hardcore nature of the screaming, naturally aspirated GT3 that few will ever fully exploit. It is the 911 that could, if you are inclined, whip around a racetrack then take the long route back home. Call it a GT3-lite if you will. Given the choice we’d take a manual, rear-wheel-drive version, in red but that’s just us dreaming.

Pricing

911 Carrera GTS R2 290 000

911 Carrera 4 GTS R2 400 000

911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet R2 490 000

911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet R2 600 000

911 Targa 4 GTS R2 600 000