New Porsche 911 GTS has all the right stuff

With a com­pelling blend of per­for­mance and ev­ery­day use­abil­ity, this 331kW de­riv­a­tive also comes at the right price

The Star Early Edition - - ROAD TEST - DE­NIS DROPPA

Wear­ing socks with san­dals just ain’t cool bro. And banana on a pizza, no go. Cer­tain things just don’t mix well, but in blend­ing dis­cor­dant in­gre­di­ents in the mo­tor­ing world no one’s been do­ing it longer, or bet­ter, than Porsche with its 911 – a rear-en­gined leg­end that since 1963 has be­come syn­ony­mous with com­bin­ing race­track per­for­mance and ev­ery­day use­abil­ity.

One of the 911 mod­els that best rep­re­sents this dual per­son­al­ity is the Car­rera GTS, the lat­est ver­sion of which re­cently went on sale in South Africa in Coupe, Targa and Cabri­o­let guises, in two- and four­wheel drive. It’s the two-wheel drive Car­rera GTS Coupe on test here, priced at R1 768 000.

In the baf­fling ar­ray of 911s to choose from, the GTS is a more ath­letic propo­si­tion than the 309kW Car­rera S. It boasts an in­creased out­put of 331kW and is spiced up with some styling and chas­sis tweaks, but isn’t as overtly sporty as the more track-fo­cussed, fire-breath­ing 368kW GT3.

Not that a Car­rera S feels un­der-en­dowed, but the GTS treat­ment ex­tracts a bit more pace and per­son­al­ity from the 911 pack­age whilst re­tain­ing its com­mut­ing-friend­li­ness. Apart from the power boost, ac­tive suspension man­age­ment and 10mm low­ered suspension also come stan­dard in the GTS range, as does a sports ex­haust.

All 911 Car­rera GTS mod­els, in­clud­ing rear-wheel drive ones, are based on the all-wheel drive Car­rera 4 chas­sis with its widened hips and rear track. It gives the car a more pur­pose­ful look which is in­ten­si­fied by a dis­tinc­tive body kit com­pris­ing a unique front apron with a low front split­ter, an ex­tended rear spoiler for re­duced lift, sport de­sign side mir­rors, smoked tail-lights, and a blacked-out duo of cen­tral tailpipes.

Keep­ing up with GTS tra­di­tion, the wheels have cen­tre locks in­stead of wheel nuts, and the 20” black rims wear asym­met­ri­cal rub­ber, with 245/35s Pirelli P Ze­ros up front and 305/30s at the rear.

The GTS pack­age also gives you an in­te­rior swathed in Al­can­tara leather, sports seats that have GTS lo­gos on the head­rests and are par­tially elec­tri­cally-ad­justable, and an in­stru­ment clus­ter with black-an­odised alu­minium trim strips. The in­te­rior trim­mings are Porsche-typ­i­cally swanky and ev­ery­thing feels su­per solid ex­cept for the rel­a­tively flimsy-feel­ing driv­ing mode se­lec­tor switch on the steer­ing wheel.

A Sport Chrono pack­age is part of the deal, and the Porsche Track Pre­ci­sion app has been up­graded to co­in­cide with the re­lease of the GTS mod­els. The app will au­to­mat­i­cally record all your laps on your smart­phone, com­plete with driv­ing teleme­try.

The en­gine be­hind the rear seats is now a tur­bocharged 3.0-litre flat­six in­stead of the nor­mally-as­pi­rated 3.8 in the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Car­rera GTS, with out­puts hiked by 15kW and a whop­ping 110Nm. The burly 550Nm of max torque is on call all the way between 2150 and 5000rpm, mak­ing for lusty surge across a wide power band.

The re­sul­tant per­for­mance im­prove­ments are sig­nif­i­cant, es­pe­cially at high alti­tude. The old GTS was ca­pa­ble of a 0-100km/h sprint in 4.4 sec­onds and a quar­ter-mile of 12.5 secs at sea level, and some­what slower up in Gaut­eng’s thin air.

The new car claims a 100 sprint of 3.6 sec­onds and that’s ex­actly what it achieved - in Gaut­eng - when we con­nected our Vbox and took it to Gerotek for test­ing. The new GTS also achieved 11.7 sec­onds over the quar­ter-mile, join­ing an elite group of cars to crack the 12 sec­ond bar­rier. That’s plenty fast in any­one’s lan­guage, and the top speed’s also an au­to­bahn-burn­ing 312km/h.

Thrust­ing the throt­tle re­leases an ad­dic­tive surge of pace that pum­mels you into your suede sport seat, while the ta­ble-shaped torque curve keeps the car in a power band that pulls like a race­horse in any gear.

With its easy to use launch con­trol sys­tem – just stick it in Sports mode, left foot brake, and away you go – you can bang out th­ese su­per­car sprints all day. It’s fast but user friendly in the best Porsche tra­di­tion, and this also ap­plies to the car’s ev­ery­day use­abil­ity in real-world driv­ing. It nav­i­gates the ur­ban grind in a be­nign way, with­out al­ways chomp­ing at the bit for the open road. The ride is firm, but sup­ple enough to han­dle sub­ur­bia’s bumps with­out turn­ing into a spine-jar­ring night­mare.

There are gearshift pad­dles on the steer­ing wheel but I barely used them be­cause the seven-speed self­shifter is so ridicu­lously good. This PDK dual-clutch is one of the world’s best trans­mis­sions for its abil­ity to snick through gears with clock-tick­ing smooth­ness, but at the same time lay­ing on the racy charm with its throt­tle-blip­ping down­shifts. A won­der­ful piece of en­gi­neer­ing.

What tur­bocharg­ers giveth in power they taketh away in roar, but this en­gine has pretty good vo­cal venom. With a red­line at 7500rpm the flat-six is un­usu­ally high-revving for a turbo en­gine and makes a rorty sound, es­pe­cially when you ac­ti­vate the but­ton that opens the ex­haust flaps. It doesn’t quite match the au­ral sat­is­fac­tion of the pre­vi­ous nor­mally-as­pi­rated car, but I guess most peo­ple would swap de­li­cious deci­bels for pok­ier power.

Let­ting it all hang out on the han­dling track, the GTS dis­played a sure-foot­ed­ness honed through five decades of per­fect­ing the rear-en­gined 911 recipe. In tail-happy land, all engines would be lo­cated be­hind the rear axle a la the 911, but this car stays beau­ti­fully neu­tral and pinned to the road when driven on the ragged edge. It’s a pre­ci­sion in­stru­ment that can be thrust and par­ried through turns with the flam­boy­ance of a mus­ke­teer’s sword.

Less im­pres­sive was the stop­start sys­tem which at times seemed over-ea­ger to shut down the en­gine, even right af­ter a hard-revving ses­sion of high-per­for­mance driv­ing. Our test car also suf­fered a bro­ken starter mo­tor. Porsche didn’t have one in stock as this is ap­par­ently a very rare fail­ure, and or­der­ing one from Ger­many took a few days. VERDICT This car has all the right stuff. At a mil­lion buck sav­ing over a 397kW 911 Turbo, the Car­rera GTS rep­re­sents ex­cep­tional value for money in the 911 range. Un­less you’re chas­ing out­right lap records it has more than enough power to sat­isfy the av­er­age mor­tal.

Black 20” mags with cen­tre locks are the most ob­vi­ous give­away that this is the GTS model. Lusty per­for­mance in­cludes a 3.6 sec­ond 0-100 time.

GTS in­te­rior treat­ment in­cludes stan­dard Sports Chrono pack­age and lots of Al­can­tara leather.

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