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Friday 3rd December 2010


DRIVEN: PORSCHE 911 CARRERA GTS

Is the latest 911 more than the sum of its parts(bin)?


Porsche 911 detractors might as well look away now. We know there are a few of you in out there, as a quick scan of the thread following our first news article on this car underlines. But for those of you who admire, respect or downright adore 911s - the Carrera GTS might be just the thing.


Sure, the Carrera GTS's specification reads like a parts bin special. Some might write it off as a last hurrah, a run-out special before the new 911 arrives sometime early in 2013. (Ed. Wot us? Never... gulp.) Who cares if it is? When you've a parts bin like Porsche then why shouldn't you plunder it? Especially if the result is as tantalising as the GTS.

Porsche claims the Carrera GTS slots nicely in-between the standard Carrera and GT3/GT3 RS models. Its specification therefore sits somewhere in the middle, too. Purists rejoice, as the Carrera GTS is rwd, despite wearing the wider hipped rear bodywork of the Carrera 4. That's increased the rear track, allowed wider rubber (from 295/30 ZR 19s to 305/30 ZR 19s, the front track increasing by 2mm too), and allowed Porsche to firm up the spring and damper rates - as well as the roll bars.


There are no rear seats to save some weight, though you can option them back free of charge. The GTS also gets a larger 67-litre fuel tank as standard. Ask nicely and you can expand that to 90-litres, again for no additional outlay. The front bumper is from the special equipment line, the side skirts are GT2 RS items, there's a unique rear panel between the nano-coated - whatever that means - exhausts. Then there's the single nut RS Spyder wheels borrowed from the Turbo models.

Black detailing, some Carrera GTS scripting on the doors and engine cover (in contrasting brushed metal if you pick a darker colour) and an interior with lashings of Alcantara also mark out the GTS. There's also a new three-spoke sports steering wheel and standard sports seats, and plenty of other subtle changes to excite PH types who like to pore over the finest minutiae of 911 specifications. (If you add all the changes up you'd pay significantly more than the GTS's £76,758 list price.)


For the rest of us, all that really matters is the increase in power. The GTS essentially gains the powerkit that's offered on the S which bumps output up to 402bhp at 7,300rpm. That's not a massive hike over the standard 911 Carrera S's 380bhp, but it's produced higher up the rev range, while Porsche has also managed to fatten the torque curve in the mid-rev range. Peak torque remains the same at 310lb ft, but it's maintained between 4,200rpm and 5,600rpm, with an additional 6percent of torque available at 1,500rpm.

Those changes have been achieved via some re-engineering of the intake tract, while the standard fitment of a sports exhaust also helps. The increases don't hurt economy, but the standard Carrera GTS with the manual six-speed transmission reaches 62mph in 4.6 seconds. If you want it quicker still, option the PDK and you'll shave off 0.2 seconds, while adding the Sport Chrono Plus pack drops it down to 4.2 seconds.


Keep the manual though, as it's crucial to the enjoyment of the GTS. That fatter slug of torque might not look significant as a graph, but it adds markedly to the flexibility of the 3.8-litre flat-six. Even so it's still hugely eager to rev out to its 7,500rpm maximum, the greater flexibility also making the GTS an easier, friendlier companion when trickling through traffic. If only the sports exhaust better accompanied the performance gains, with the new pipes sounding a bit muted even when you're at the top of the rev needle's sweep.

The gearshift remains one of the 911's biggest draws, but I reckon - this side of the GT3 RS - it's the finest-steering 911 in recent memory. The Alcantara rim is loaded with feel, the weighting near perfect and the precision on offer is excellent. There's no slack in the system, and the GTS's nose is extremely eager to turn in, its greater resistance to understeer making the GTS more neutral in even tighter bends.


Suspension revisions make a difference here too. PASM is standard, the GTS managing that fine ride and control trick that Porsche demonstrated with the limited edition, mega money Sport Classic. There's a suppleness to the ride, yet it's taut and controlled even on poor road surfaces. It'll carry its speed down a road where a GT3 driver would be backing off, and retaining control where a standard Carrera S would be feeling a bit light.

Thank the lightweight wheels, and on this car the optional lighter PCCB ceramic brakes for reducing the unsprung mass. The GTS's suspension revisions create a more rounded 911, allowing you to enjoy its additional performance more of the time. Forget the doubters then, because the 911 Carrera GTS might just be the best resolved, most useable 911 around. And if that doesn't appeal to you, perhaps no 911 ever will.







Author: Kyle Fortune