The Carrera GTS is the final expression of the current Porsche 911 ...

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The Carrera GTS is the final expression of the current Porsche 911 ...

CARRERA GTS

Pictures Yang

As good as it

GTS

The Carrera GTS is the final

expression of the current

Porsche 9 1. Sheldon Trollope

drives it around some of the

best roads the USA has to offer

to find out if it has created a

fitting tribute


s it is with so many other brands,

the United States is the most

important market for Porsche

and has been so for the last 60

years since businessman Max

Hoffman imported five 356s in

1950 and sold them within a

week.

For Porsche, the presence in the US isn’t

just about selling more units but the last

six decades have also gone a long way into

shaping the brand and influencing its models

to this day.

Even in terms of racing heritage, Porsche’s

history books are filled with iconic races like

Can-Am, Daytona and Carrera Panamericana,

where the latter served to inspire the name of

Porsche’s four-door GT, the Panamera.

Aside from the 911, just about every other

model from Porsche has an American element;

A

Left: 3.8-litre

flat six is an

uprated version

of the Carrera S

VarioCam Plus

powerplant

Right: xxx xxx

xxx xxx Xxx

xxxxxxxx xxxx

xxx

Cayenne, Cayman and its up-coming small

SUV, Cajun. Thirty thousand US Porsche

customers a year can’t be wrong.

So perhaps it is nothing short of a miracle

that in spite of America’s love for Porsche,

the company still makes cars that the rest of

the world also likes. If you look at almost any

American car for example, they’re mostly

laughable in performance and quality and only

seem to make sense in their home market.

The reason for this, I suspect is that

Americans do most of their driving on endless

stretches of Freeway that connect one city to

another and there are hardly any corners on

these concrete expressways that are at least

six-lanes wide on each side. For this type of

driving condition, a car doesn’t need to do very

much besides getting up to 65mph (105km/h)

and waft along.

Maybe the locals don’t know or care, but

Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and even,

Albert Einstein was known to frequent this oasis

destination.

More recently, Palm Springs is enjoying a

renaissance and once again is drawing the rich

and famous to its myriad spas and resorts that

offer a more tasteful respite from the kitsch of

Las Vegas.

The timeless style and glamour of resorts like

The Parker where we checked in, also perfectly

complimented a car like the Porsche 911

Carrera GTS, which we came to drive.

Incredibly, there are 20 road-going variants

of the current 997-generation 911 to choose

from if you walked into the showroom today.

Yet, Porsche believes that the GTS – which is

likely to be the last variant before an all-new

911 is introduced – plugs a gap that has been

missing between the 385bhp Carrera S and

435bhp GT3.

The GTS perhaps solves a problem that only

911 buyers might encounter. The GT3 is an

awesome car and the GT3 RS even more so

(as evidenced by its inclusion in this issue’s

Performance Car of the Year shootout that

begins on page 84) but is unfortunately out of

the question for a growing number of drivers

whose clutch foot has atrophied after years

of paddle shifts, semi-autos and robotised

manuals. After all, it was Porsche which started

this trend with its Tiptronic gearbox and the

industry has never looked back since.

The 911 Carrera GTS, is available with

Porsche’s latest self-shifter known as PDK,

which is an acronym for a 23-letter word that

is German for “twin-clutch gearbox”. I thought

these people were known for efficiency?

Anyway, if you fancy a 911 that’s closer in

performance to the GT3 but not its 6-speed

manual gearbox, the GTS is your answer.

I’m concerned.

The cabin is a bit more subdued, but provided

you look past the steering wheel, it’s well organised

and nicely constructed. This car is battling to be

part of the junior executive sports saloon market

and you have to say it’s a more convincing effort

than the newly ‘upmarket’ Evo X.

We track down the roads we used for last month’s

road racers story – great sections

‘PORSCHE BELIEVES THAT THE GTS PLUGS THE GAP BETWEEN THE 385BHP CARRERA S AND 435BHP GT3’

some truly challenging roads can be found in

the Land of the Free; winding mountainous

roads with switchbacks and challenging

cambers that would give the Nordschleife

a run for its Euro. If GM and Chrysler had

developed its cars on these roads maybe they

wouldn’t have had to come to Uncle Sam with

cap in hand.

Come to think of it, maybe only American

Porsche owners know of such roads like some

secret nightclub in Hollywood that A-listers

know about. There may actually be some truth

to this because the roads that I’ve been going on

about are in the mountains that surround Palm

Springs which has traditionally been a favourite

retreat for Hollywood celebrities who want to

get away from the glare of the paparazzi.

For decades, this Southern Californian city

has been the preferred getaway for some of

Tinseltown’s icons such as Frank Sinatra,

CARRERA GTS

This car also allows customers options that

are not offered in either the Carrera S or GT3.

Besides PDK, the GTS can be specified with

rear seats at no extra cost. Although these

are best left for small children or short trips,

many customers have been said to turn down

the prospect of buying a GT3 because they

couldn’t drive their kids to school in one.

Styling wise, the GTS is more understated

and doesn’t make its driver look like a Carrera

Cup fan boy when he steps out of the car.

The GTS’ sportiness is far more subtle but

purposeful. For starters, it shares the widebody

style with the Carrera 4 and has wider

rear tyres as well to the tune of 305/30 ZR19.

Combined with the optional centre-mount

RS Spyder wheels finished in black, the GTS

imparts a sense of latent aggression.

Around the back (this is a 911 after all), the

3.8-litre flat six-cylinder engine of the GTS is


CARRERA GTS

‘THE MOUNTAIN PASSES AROUND THE SAN BERARDINO FOREST ARE WHERE THE GTS COMES INTO ITS OWN’

I’m concerned.

The cabin is a bit more subdued, but provided

you look past the steering wheel, it’s well organised

and nicely constructed. This car is battling to be

part of the junior executive sports saloon market

and you have to say it’s a more convincing effort

than the newly ‘upmarket’ Evo X.

We track down the roads we used for last month’s

road racers story – great sections

evo.co.uk 061


‘TRUE TO ITS NAME, THE GTS MAKES FOR

AN ACCOMPLISHED GRAND TOURER’

an up-rated version of the Carrera S’ VarioCam

Plus power unit that has a redesigned intake

system as well as a raised rev limit.

Along with the 23bhp increase in power, the

redline of the GTS’ power plant is also raised to

7,500rpm, a thousand more than the Carrera S.

As a result, the GTS is capable of a top

speed of 304km/h and when specified with the

Sport Chrono Package Plus, can be launched

into 100km/h from a standstill in 4.2 seconds.

Engaging this function is a hoot. Select PASM

Sport Plus, Shift the gear lever to manual mode,

left foot on the brake and floor the accelerator.

At this point, the secret display on the steering

wheel spoke lights up with the words “Launch

Control” and you’re ready for take off…

Although it is unlikely that fuel economy

might be of any sort of priority for anyone

buying a 408bhp sports car, it is still nice to

know that the GTS’ motor is just as frugal as

the less powerful Carrera S unit and returns an

identical combined fuel consumption figure of

10.2 litres/100km.

The engine’s improvements are accentuated

by a standard-fit sports exhaust that has a loud

button. When pressed, it opens a flap within the

pipes for a sportier note. In a sports car like this,

it seems strange to drive it in anything other

than the loud setting for it really does impart

a sense of occasion to hear that flat six bass,

but this noise can get tiresome on continuous

long distance highway driving. In full throttle

applications, the flap opens automatically but

closes again at lower speeds.

You won’t need a long drive to decide that the

GTS engine is a real gem. Naturally aspirated

engines with high rev limits can feel lazy at

lower speeds but this 3.8 enthusiastically pulls

from just above idle. Then, just when you expect

a linear progression to the red line, at 4,500rpm

the VarioCam does its thing and it feels like

an invisible hand pushing the car forward in a

wave of torque. You soon become addicted to

the surge in power that is also accompanied

by a heroic soundtrack and you’ll soon be

seeking out stretches of empty road to entertain

yourself with this party trick.

True to its name, the GTS makes for an

accomplished Grand Tourer (the S stands

for Sport) as its ride is firm enough for sporty

handling but not to the point that ladies

occupants will need to put on a sports bra. The

PDK also offers a wide enough range of ratios

to keep the engine within that 5000rpm sweet

spot yet seventh gear is tall enough for relaxed

cruising.

Porsche anticipates that many GTS buyers

will want to use their cars for long distance

drives and offers an extended range 90-litre

fuel tank as a no cost option. This tank however,

will not fit in a right-hand drive GTS so local

customers will have to make do with the

standard 67-litre item.

The GTS is fitted with variable dampers

known as PASM (Porsche Active Suspension

Management) where the dampers can be set in

their firmest setting at the touch of a button, but

seeing that the default comfort setting does not

leave the driver wishing for more control, most

drivers are bound to ignore this button unless

they find themselves on a track.

More demanding drivers on the other hand,

can opt for an up-rated package known as

PASM sports suspension, which also comes with

a mechanical locking differential.

The interior is elegant in a form-followsfunction

way. The Alcantara-covered steering

wheel and sport seats not only make the cabin

look like it was derived from a race car, the

material also feels good to the touch and offers

better grip during aggressing driving than

slippery leather.

The mountain passes around the San

Bernardino forest just outside Palm Springs are

where the GTS comes into its own. While the

rear end entertains with amazing tractability

to sling shot you out from every corner, the

steering is beautifully communicative and

responsive. If you want to know what good

steering feels like, take a two-wheel drive 911 on

a road like this and you’ll know what I mean.

It wasn’t that long ago when 400bhp through

the rear wheels would raise questions about

control and drivability, but the Porsche Stability

Management (PSM) in the GTS does a

remarkable job of keeping the car in line.

In the drive through the mountains, we

encountered brief spells of rain and freezing

temperatures and the GTS never felt like it was

I’m in danger concerned. of losing control and we never felt

held The back cabin by the is a electronic bit more subdued, nanny. but provided

you The look more past I drove the steering the GTS, wheel, the more it’s this well organised

and model nicely seemed constructed. to make sense. This Firstly, car is it battling had to be

part plenty of of the power junior transmitted executive through sports a saloon two- market

and wheel you drive have chassis, to say which it’s a meant more the convincing steering effort

than feel is the uncompromised. newly ‘upmarket’ Next, Evo the wide-body X.

style We is track exactly down what the everyone roads we wants used a 911 for to last month’s

road look like. racers The story styling – great restraint sections and option of a

PDK gearbox means that this is a car we could

live with as a daily driver. And perhaps more

significantly in the local context, its list price

of $468,888 with COE means that you’ll only

be asked for a $20K premium over the Carrera

S. That’s a lot easier to swallow than the $200K

premium you’ll need for the Turbo which is the

next step up for those who want a PDK’d 911.

If I had $200K to spare, I would have $300K

to spare, which could buy me a Cayman R for

the weekends.

SPECIFICATION

CARRERA GTS

Engine horizontally-opposed six-cylinder 3800cc

Power 408bhp @ 7300rpm

Torque 420Nm @ 4,200rpm to 5,600rpm

0-100km/h 4.2 seconds (with Sport Chrono Package in

Sport Plus mode)

Top Speed 304km/h

Price $468,888 with COE

On Sale Now

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