It’s very good – mainly because it’s a Porsche 911 sprinkled with go-faster dust, when normal 911s are already pretty special devices. But when you strip away what it really is, the GTS actually appeals more as a shrewd buy than as some kind of idealised sweet spot on the 911 ownership ladder.
Porsche has simply taken a regular Carrera S, thrown into the mix the wider body and axle tracks of the Carrera 4 and the engine upgrade of the optional ‘powerkit’, and likewise included some items of drivetrain and chassis equipment as standard that you’d otherwise have to pay extra for. So the GTS gets Porsche’s Sport Chrono Plus package with sports exhaust and dynamic engine mounts, its torque vectoring set-up with the limited-slip diff and its actively damped PASM adjustable suspension thrown in.
It doesn’t have Porsche’s PDDC active anti-roll bars, but conveniently you wouldn’t want them. However, were you to order the car’s standard specification on a normal Carrera S, you’d get within £2000 of the GTS’s list price - not counting the leather/alcantara interior, wide body or the powerkit upgrade. Easy sell, then.
Added to that, there are one or two ways in which the GTS’s mechanical specification is genuinely new. The suspension and steering have been retuned for greater dynamic poise and feedback, with 10mm of ride height having been taken out of the former compared with the PASM set-up on the Carrera S.
The GTS is also the first 911 to benefit from a retuning of the 991’s standard seven-speed manual gearbox for better shift quality. While it was a popular opinion, I’ve never had a problem with the way other manual 911s change gear. Nor did I lose sleep when the GT3 switched to PDK-only.
While it’s a more civilised device than a GT3, you wouldn’t call the GTS a particularly comfortable tourer. The standard 20in rims and low-profile tyres kick up noticeably more road roar than you’ll find in any GT worth its salt, the flat six ranges from vocal to very vocal in its various exhaust modes, and you have to keep that engine stoked up with frequent gearchanges in order to make the car feel seriously fast.
All of which you’ll take considerable pleasure in doing. The car’s deliciously harmonious and substantial controls make every interaction a joy, and the way the flat six builds to an eccentric 7500rpm climax is automotive theatre at its most addictive.
The car’s ride is compliant enough to deal well with most UK road surfaces, but it feels resolutely firm – and quite uncompromising in its body control at times. Porsche 911s are inherently busier on their springs than other sports cars because of their weight distribution, and rather than allowing the body to bob a little at either axle when disturbed by a bump, the GTS’s dampers make their presence felt.
The car is better tied down than lesser models as a result, as well as flatter and more precise when cornering, but it can be a touch wearing over a bad surface.
Besides the improved shift quality, the GTS also beats its lesser siblings on steering weight and feedback, which both build more usefully away from straight-ahead. Lateral grip levels are such that you’ll need to be on a closed road or a circuit to probe them fully; on the road, even in fairly slippery conditions, balance, directional response, handling accuracy and stability are excellent.