Almost a year after Porsche held the international launch of the updated 911 Carrera range in Johannesburg, the company launched three sportier GTS models to the world’s motoring media in the Western Cape. These come in coupe, cabriolet and Targa body variants in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive configurations.
The GTS range offers the sportiest models in the Carrera family and the vehicles come with a number of model-
specific design elements.
These include a more pronounced front valance and a wider rear track, measuring 1 544mm, which is said to provide lower roll resistance around corners and better stability on straight roads.
In addition, the models feature the wide Carrera 4 body and fatter rear footwear measuring 305/30/20. These wrap around black-finished alloy wheels with centre locking hubs, similar to those fitted to the 911 Turbo models.
Moving inwards, the sporting theme carries on with a three-spoke steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara, while the seats have red stitching with the head bolsters emblazoned with the GTS motif (as part of the optional GTS interior package).
The 3.0-litre biturbo flat-six engine from the updated Carrera S still nestles in the rear engine compartment, but fettled in this application to deliver 331kW at 6500rpm and 550Nm at 2150rpm through either a seven-speed manual or the more popular seven-speed PDK transmission.
The 0-100km/h sprint for the latter comes up in 3.7 seconds in the instance of the two-wheel drive variant and 3.6 seconds in the all-wheel drive version.
Top speed is a credible 312km/h (310km/h for the PDK) for the manual two-wheel drive, while the four-wheel drive musters 310km/h and 318km/h for each gearbox respectively.
Driving the cabriolet variant with the seven-speed manual was a novel experience — a chance to row one of the slickest manual gearboxes, which had me practising my heel-toe moves on down changes.
However, the PDK would be the better box for all-round daily driving and that would probably be my choice.
Driving the model on the Western Cape’s winding roads once again proved why the 911 remains the benchmark sports car many would like to emulate. Commit to driving the vehicle the way it prefers — a smooth approach and rhythm — and it responds with predictable and crisp handling.
The engine has so much low-down torque that you find yourself using only the initial half of the 7500rpm available. However, should you find a flatter and straighter piece of tarmac and use all the revs available at your disposal, the GTS truly shows its performance mettle.
The coupe in particular features the company’s Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) sports suspension, which lowers the vehicle by 20mm over the standard Carrera. It also has torque vectoring and rear differential (mechanical for manual and electronic for PDK models), which ensures maximum grip and handling in most conditions.
It is decidedly quick and gets on with the task of carving up any coiling bitumen with the alacrity befitting any sports car worth its salt.
Even the cabriolet variant I drove felt eager to tug corners and bolt out of them just as much as the coupe model.
I have said this before, and I will say it again, Porsche makes some of the most dynamic open-top sports cars on the road and whether you choose the tin-top or open-top, it boils down to preference as there are few performance drawbacks.
If there is one criticism I would level at the model, it is perhaps that the more guttural roar of the old 3.8 flat-six motor at high revs is missing. That said, the performance of the new engine is decidedly superior to the old car and more efficient.
We were also given the opportunity to drive the model around the Killarney racetrack, which will incidentally host a round of the World Rallycross Championship in October.
It was great driving on this track after such a long time and it remains technical at most times, but once again the vehicle proved that it is better suited to being driven smoothly in order to achieve its best.
Slow in and fast out of corners is, to be frank, applicable to driving any car on the track.
Steering, brakes and throttle are always well-judged and not once did the brakes flinch after repeated track use, such is the model’s penchant to be driven under track conditions.
The GTS represents a rather sweet spot in the Carrera range. Granted, the Carrera S is probably all the model you will need, but the GTS brings more than a hint of style and panache to the range that further sets it apart from its younger brethren.
According to Porsche SA, the model will be made available locally in May 2017 and pricing is said to start from R1.695-million for the Carrera GTS rising up to R1.966-million for the Targa 4 GTS.
When you consider the performance and brand prestige of the model, it seems a worthwhile bargain. Additionally, the GTS model in particular has been earmarked to have good residual values. – Lerato Matebese