Road Tripping: B-Road Fun In The Porsche 911 GTS

BY Sean Loo

What happens when you have a lean, green, speedy machine on some picturesque UK backroads? You have fun of course.

This is the one everyone says is the ‘best real-world 911’, right?

But hey, let's not get too hung up on titles because when it comes to 911s, the gaps between them are tiny. They are narrow, but they do matter.

So, what's the deal with the 911 GTS? It's like that friend who shows up at the party with just the right amount of pizzazz. Back in the day, it emerged to fill the void between the Carrera S and the Turbo.

When regular 911s were still rocking naturally aspirated engines, and Turbos were all about forced induction, the GTS came in as the middle child. It offered a bit more power, some cool options, and a price tag that didn't break the bank. But it wasn't exactly the bridge to the high-performance Turbos.

But, with the modern-day 992 lineup, things have certainly changed. Under the hood, all 911s these days, except the GT3, pack twin-turbo flat-six engines. The regular Carreras all share the same 3.0-litre engine, albeit with slight tweaks and adjustments. The base Carrera churns out 380bhp, the S takes it up to 444bhp, and then there's this new GTS, boasting a solid 473bhp.

The Turbo, equipped with a larger 3.7-litre motor, starts at a whopping 572bhp. Unfair advantage, so let’s keep our focus on this green machine here.

Now, what's in a 'GTS' badge, you ask? Well, it's more than just letters. The GTS comes with Turbo brakes and wheels, and even borrows the springs and dampers from the Turbo, albeit tweaked for a lighter touch. It's got 10mm-lower PASM suspension as standard, and you can throw in a Lightweight Design package for a small additional fee.

This pack shaves off 25kg by ditching the rear seats, tossing in one-piece carbon bucket seats up front, fitting lightweight glass for the side and rear windows, and installing a lithium battery. They've even dialled down cabin insulation, tweaked the aero a bit, and added four-wheel steering to the mix.

That package is a tempting deal. Porsche is nudging GTS buyers in that direction, and who can blame them? Now, the car I got my hands on didn't have that lightweight wizardry. Nevertheless, the GTS is no softie even without it. It's got less sound deadening than other Carreras, more Race-Tex material inside, a standard sports exhaust, and offers choices like side stickers that give it a hefty dash of GT3 Touring vibes.

And guess what? It sounds fantastic. Stripping away some sound insulation has an intriguing effect. When you barrel through a tunnel with the windows down, it's loud, but not quite the ear-splitting scream of a GT3. But roll those windows up, and you've got a good dose of in-cabin audio drama. This car likes to keep its voice to itself, projecting inward rather than shouting to the world.

And it gives you a reason to keep the pedal planted for its 7,400rpm redline. Power delivery is reminiscent of other Carreras, with a surge of torque from 3,000rpm, a dip past 4,000rpm, and then a hefty wallop at 5,000rpm that carries through to the redline.

In the GTS, those kicks are more pronounced and come with a delightful growl that crescendos in the final thousand revs. Porsche's made sure this turbo engine doesn't just shine in the mid-range; it's a star at the top end too.

The GTS isn't the quiet type, and it doesn't back down easily. It's got a work ethic, and it's here to stay. The suspension is where it shines. Those adaptive dampers, borrowed from the Turbo, do a superb job of keeping you in touch with the road, smoothing out rough patches like a seasoned masseuse. It doesn't jitter like a GT3; it flows, more like a Turbo. But without the body-slam power delivery.

Now, if there's one thing I'd nudge a bit, it's the steering. It's a tad light when centered, and not quite as sharp on the turn-in as I'd like. But don't get me wrong; it's agile, especially with the optional four-wheel steering I had on the car. The brakes? Oh, they're simply mega – firm underfoot and oh-so-lovely to use.

Now, here's the conundrum – the GTS is obviously great, but how do you pick the right 911? It's like choosing your favourite ice cream flavour when you know they're all delicious. Some crave the Turbo's thrust, others live for the GT3's communication, some adore the Targa's style, and some just want the plain Carrera for its daily-driver charm.

You might think that’s a problem, but that’s exactly what makes the 911 special - everyone can have their own cake and eat it too.

The GTS, parked comfortably in the middle of the price range and leaning towards spirited driving, is highly recommendable. However, at a premium over a base Carrera, some might argue that with a few well-picked options, that base Carrera is one heck of a sports car.

There’s no right or wrong in this selection chaos, but one thing’s for sure - the Porsche 911 GTS is a performer with character. It's a sweet spot in the 911 lineup, hitting the high notes without breaking the bank.

Whether you go GTS or stick with a base Carrera, you're in for a delightful ride.

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)