What is it?
The new Porsche 911 GTS has been built, says the German company, for the kind of customer who quite fancies a 911 GT3 but who isn’t prepared to put up with the on-road compromises demanded by such a track-orientated car. Not day in, day out at any rate, reckons Porsche.
So it’s the car that fills the gap between the regular 911 Carrera S and the 911 GT3. Does that mean it’s the answer to a question no-one has yet bothered to ask? Or is it yet another clever manipulation of a marketplace that only Porsche seems to fully understand? The answer is a little bit of both.
The GTS specification brings a 10mm lowering of the ride height and the Sport Chrono Pack becomes a standard fitment. You also get an extra 30bhp from the 3.8-litre flat six, making 424bhp in total, while the track is wider at the back and the spring and damper rates retuned front and rear to produce keener responses than in the regular Carrera S.
Matt black 20-inch wheels also appear at all four corners, and keen 911 observers will spot that the headlight surrounds front and rear are finished in the same hue, as are the four exhaust pipes out of the back.
The interior is familiar in its main design but bespoke (ish) in its finishing, with GTS decals appearing on the seats and body coloured stitching for the sexy new Alcantara trim.
What's it like?
The Porsche 911 GTS looks and feels much more sporting than a regular Carrera S, yes, but it’s nowhere near as naughty to look at or sit in as a GT3. And that's very much how it drives too.
The version we tried was the expensive £95,862 C4 GTS that was also fitted with the optional PDK gearbox, which costs a further £2817.
And that’s where the argument for the GTS begins to fall apart somewhat beside the GT3 because the latter a) gets PDK as standard, b) also benefits from Porsche’s excellent four wheel-steering system (which the GTS does not), and c) costs not a whole lot more than the GTS we tried with its various options in situ.
Just as well, then, that in isolation the GTS drives as good as it looks (and sounds). It feels more energetic everywhere compared with a regular C4S, never more so than over the last 1500rpm. Its ride and handling also feel a fair bit crisper while its electric steering is keener, the turn in more precise – compared with a regular Carrera S.
Compared with a GT3, though, the GTS is nowhere dynamically to be honest. Not in this guise at any rate. We also drove a manual, rear-wheel-drive version briefly on the track later in the day – which costs a still pricey but more approachable £91,089 – and found that to be a little closer to the ideal than a four-wheel-drive model with the PDK.
Should I buy one?
Personally, I'd go for a C2 GTS with the PDK option. Overall, though, here’s the thinking: if the GT3 was a hard-riding wild animal of a car that couldn’t possibly be used everyday, the GTS would make perfect sense. But the latest GT3 isn’t the unrefined madman that it used to be; nothing like. And so beside it the GTS makes less sense than it might.
But then nobody knows this market better than Porsche, and that’s why the GTS will still be a roaring success, no matter how much of an exercise in sharp marketing it may be.