The Contender, The 911 GTS is a Force to be Reckoned With

Placed somewhere between a GT3 and a Carrera S in the product mix, the various GTS models are among the purest expressions of the storied 911 on offer today. This equation begins with copious power delivered to the rear axle at the behest of Porsche’s Powerkit, which uses freer-flowing intake runners and higher-lifting valves that take the 3.8-liter flat six from 400 hp to 430 hp at 7,500 rpm. You feel it most up above 6,500 rpm where this naturally aspirated beast has a banshee scream and a berserker’s taste for adrenaline. In the GTS, torque peaks at 440 Nm, but 150 rpm higher than the S, at 5,750 rpm for a smoother torque curve. Available with either the excellent 7-speed manual or the lightening fast 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission, the GTS can please luddites and tech heads alike; it just can't help them to understand their personal differences.

This car takes on public roads and racetrack alike with confidence and grace. Always cool under pressure, the car reacts to various road conditions smoothly, and always feels honed and ready for anything. Tighten up the dampers in Sport mode and the appreciable firmness is useful but not particularly jarring unless you hit a large bump unawares— not that I’d ever do such a thing.

The interior of the Targa is a riot of Alcantara and leather, but as luxurious as it is, I’m bereft to give up the driver’s position. Porsche has stitched the GTS logo into the headrests and plastered it across the tach to make sure you know what you’re driving, whichever way your head happens to be facing (we advise directing it towards the road at all times).

Differentiating the GTS outside you’ve got a different take on the way the car presents front and rear, and a set of Bi-Xenon headlights that work with Porsche’s Dynamic Lighting System to show you the way home, even adjusting for optimal illumination as you make your way around a bend.

You will need to be a little more vigilant around sleeping policemen and poorly built parking garage ramps (I’m looking at you Jumeirah Town Centre), as the GTS is lower than the S, riding on 20 inchers. GTS models are differentiated by the Carrera 4’s wider rear track (36 millimetres more hip to love) but with standard PASM adaptive shocks and the Sport Chrono package with its active engine mounts, rounded out by the same capable suspension and brake hardware found in the Carrera S. You also get the centre-locking 20-inch multi-spoke wheels from the GT3 and the Turbo S for a little taste of the rarefied stuff. An electronically deployed rear spoiler adds downforce on demand, keeping that silky 911 silhouette during less frenzied driving conditions.

The PDK equipped GTS handles the 0-100kph sprint in just 4 seconds, and red lines north of 7,800 RPM and there’s plenty of torque in the mid-to-high rev range make passing slower traffic a rather brief, and satisfying process. You could take the car out of Sport+, but out here in the mountains it seems pointless except for when I’m stuck behind a big truck waiting for an opening to overtake. PDK keeps me in the right gear at all times, rev-matching during downshifts as I brake hard (and briefly) into a turn. The car changes gears with a satisfying thunk, but it’s never overbearing. Open the throttle in a straight and then let full off and the exhaust will burble and snarl— good times.

Behind the wheel, I’m grinning like mad and flapping at the paddle shifters as I see fit, basing my shifts on the sound of the motor more than anything else, as it’s tough to even glance at the gauges meaningfully when you're driving at the full extent of your abilities. Ask any racer how fast they were going on a hot lap and they’ll refer you to whatever ballistics package they’re using as they themselves have only a vague idea— the only number that matters is lap time and that won't benefit from ogling the speedo. But really, in all likelihood simply letting PDK shift would actually improve my performance— I don't have the numbers to prove it, but I can tell you this is most certainly true. For one thing, I was short shifting a tad, as the 7,500 RPM (or so) whine of the GTS can seem a little wrong until you get used to it. It just sounds crazy, which had me shifting too soon on my own.

So i tried leaving the transmission in full auto, and it did not disappoint. The car ploughs through the gears in the straightaway with buttery precision, exploiting every last bit of torque right up to redline with far more nerve than I had managed on the paddles.

In the corners, slalom, and wide arcing turns, Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), combined with Porsche Stability Management, apply braking discriminately helping keep the car stable and agile while you run your heart out. The GTS is perhaps a tad less forgiving than the S in this regard, but that’s by design, as this car is meant to hold true to the tail happy tradition that is classic 911. According to Porsche, PTV improves the vehicle’s handling “by means of modulated braking interventions on the inside rear wheel when being driven in a highly dynamic style. [When] entering a corner… braking force is selectively applied to the inside rear wheel as the steering manoeuvre is begun. This imparts a greater drive torque to the outside rear wheel compared with the inside wheel.” It’s a nice trick and one that pays dividends both on the track and on the open road.

All in all, the 911 GTS is a finely honed sports car that trades on an impressive legacy and iterative improvement that makes 911 a benchmark in any serious sports car dialogue. Whether you need the GTS, are would be more at home in a Carrera S is a personal matter, and a financial one. The good news is, you won’t regret a moment you spend comparing the two.

Words: Adel Habib | Photos: Jorge Ferrari

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