14 December 2021
What is it?
Having tried the new Carrera GTS abroad in four-wheel-drive automatic form, and then again on British roads in rear-wheel-drive automatic form, this is our chance to taste the most serious sub-GT3 911 of the 992-generation era in ‘purist’ guise. Which is to say, rear driven and fitted with the manual ’box that Porsche offers despite knowing that precious few will opt for it. Chapeau, Porsche.
First, a quick reminder of what the GTS is, because in the past, the model has been something of a Carrera-based parts-bin special, with nothing truly bespoke but plenty of desirable regular 911 options bundled together at an attractive price.
Not this time. The suspension is mostly borrowed from the phenomenally well-sorted 911 Turbo, with helper springs for the back axle (these essentially keep the main springs located both during and after moments of maximum extension – over a fast crest, for example), although the PASM dampers are GTS-unique. The cast-iron brakes are also from the Turbo although, as ever, carbon-ceramic discs are available.
For maximum weight saving, the GTS is also available with a Lightweight package, which bins the rear seats and adds 918 Spyder-style carbonfibre buckets in the front, along with lightweight glazing and a lightweight battery. It saves 30kg and, in doing so, drops the car’s kerb weight to less than 1500kg, assuming you go for neither the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox nor four-wheel drive.
Lastly, the car’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo six has also been fettled, with power up 29bhp from the Carrera S to 473bhp. It’s not an epic uplift, but with it the Carrera is now knocking on the door of 500bhp, which is a fact that takes some digesting. Finishing things off is a sports exhaust specific to the GTS, which has also had some of the regular Carrera’s sound-deadening removed.
What’s it like?
The result is superb: a 911 calmer and quieter than the Turbo and especially the GT3 when that’s all you want, but one that still bristles lightly with thoroughbred-ness and intent – appreciably more so than does the Carrera S. There’s a newfound alertness to the ride-quality and a little more incidental feel in the steering, too.
There’s more fizz, for want of a better word, and when it comes to getting that big-picture sense of what’s happening in the relationship between road-surface and tyre, the GTS undeniably sits in the previously vacant space between Carrera S and GT3. In terms of raison d’etre, that’s job done.
This is also the most characterful guise yet for the normally taciturn Carrera engine, which in the GTS get truly waspish beyond 6000rpm, where crank-speed really seems accelerate and the car moves with a forcefulness as yet unknown with the humble Carrera. As with the ride and steering, the difference here isn’t night-and-day compared to the Carrera S, but it certainly exists, and is more pronounced than you might be expecting. More miles in the car only sharpens your appreciation of the differences this 992 GTS specification brings.
It’s true that the GTS may feel a touch serious for some, but if you want your 911 to feel less GT car and more traditional sports car, it’s clearly the way to go. Moreover, if our car’s fine wet-weather blend of grip and adjustability is anything to go by – you can really play with this car in the damp, both on and off the throttle – leave the front driveshafts in the brochure. You don’t need or want them.
The gearbox question is harder to answer. Short-throw manual or paddleshift PDK? I can see the merits of both, but having opted for the GTS in the first place, with its meticulous tweaks and driver-focused conception, Porsche’s fine manual feels a fitting choice. That said, the PDK is deliciously crisp and quick, both on upshifts and down. With it, on the road the GTS would keep pace with the mid-engined supercar crowd, I’m sure.