From £107,4059
Carrera S too sensible but a GT3 too wild (or, indeed, too unattainable)? Step forward the Carrera GTS, tested here in 'purist' guise

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.

2 Porsche 911 gts 2021 uk first drive review side pan

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. 

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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.  

6 Porsche 911 gts 2021 uk first drive review cabin

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Should I buy one?

If you can't afford a GT3 (or can't get on the waiting list), is the rear-driven, three-pedal Carrera GTS the 911 to have?

It probably is, though for this kind of money, you'd be better off first looking at the Cayman GT4 for something with GT3 levels of communication and focus. Only having ruled that car out would I consider the Carrera GTS. 

On the other hand, if you're simply looking for a more spicy Carrera, you should also think carefully before going for the GTS.

As harder-edged kind of Carrera with tangible differences in character and feel to lesser models, it absolutely earns its place in the range. Porsche's 3.0-litre twin-turbo unit feels more soulful here than in any prior application and the GTS's stunning body control and pin-sharp steering give it a wonderful precision-feel on the road.

But a manual Carrera S with PASM sport suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes and the staggered RS Spyder alloys is cheaper than the GTS, marginally more laid back day-to-day and very nearly as engaging as the GTS. Choosing between the two would be a lovely problem to have.      

3 Porsche 911 gts 2021 uk first drive review tracking rear


Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine, and is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests, performance benchmarking and supercar lap-times, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found on Autocar's YouTube channel

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year, and focuses mainly on the more driver-orientated products, as is tradition at Autocar. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, loves watching sportscar racing, and holds a post-grad in transport engineering. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Just Saying 14 December 2021
Always been a huge fan of the 911. With this GTS being no exception. However, I'm a liitle surprised that with 473 bhp on tap, twin turbo and a kerb weight of just 1500 that it takes over 4 sec to reach 100kph. Or put another no quicker than an RS3 Audi...
Ryan Bane 14 December 2021

Much quicker 0-60 if choose PDK (<3.5s)

But you shouldn't and 0-60 really doesn't matter 

Just Saying 14 December 2021
Hi Ryan,
I'm not advocating hard acceleration as the be all and end all, but 0-60 times are a snap shot of a cars performance.
My buddy has the Performance Tesla 3 as a company car and of course by no means a rival.
Under safe circumstances (living in the sticks as we do) its acceleration is astonishing.
The GTS' performance stats tested here just surprised me that's all.
Take your point re PDK.
567 14 December 2021

Straight line acceleration isn't everything. How the cars corners and the feedback to the driver is also important. My Father was looking for his first BEV when he is coming from a 2018 Audi RS3. He didn't like the Tesla Model S however quite liked the Tesla Model 3. He finally settled on Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo which he will be collecting in January 2022. He said that although the Tesla Model 3 was good in a straight line the Taycan drove like a ICE car. He specifically mentioned the steering in the Porsche which is better than the Tesla. He also liked the build quality in the Taycan compared to the Tesla. 

Folsom 14 December 2021

In the past year I have test driven a Taycan Turbo S and joy ridden a buddy's Model S P100 - both cars put me over 100 mph in seconds, the Porsche had me hit 80 over the speed limit so quickly I was out of on control (on an empty road, thankfully), the Tesla whipped me from around 30 to 110 so quick I nearly ran out of brakes to stop finding myself upon traffic that a few seconds earlier was 1/2 mile down the road. I've owned an early GT-R and my daily driver has over 400BHP, so I'm used to fast cars but both the Tesla and Taycan rewrote what 'fast' means for me.

*but* my neighbors (150bhp?) Mazda MX-5 which has been track prepared is more fun than anything else I've every driven - I just love it when he has a problem and asks me to test it to see if I can detect the source. There is so much more to a sports car than 0-60.

f1racer 14 December 2021

Actually with PDK and launch control you are looking at 2.8 for 0-60