x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

2011 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

The GTS boasts 23hp more than the Carrera S but it has sacraficed nothing with the fuel economy.

The GTS has 23hp more than the Carrera but no fuel economy penalty.
The GTS has 23hp more than the Carrera but no fuel economy penalty.

It boasts a fire-breathing 408 horsepower, its wide-body rear end houses enough rubber to start a small plantation and the leather adorning the steering wheel is so soft that even the most effete will never again think of donning "driving" gloves. It will accelerate to 100kph in about four seconds, top out on the scary side of 300kph and should you be willing to test the limits of those oh-so-very-wide 305/30ZR19 rear Bridgestone Potenzas, it will generate almost 1.0g in lateral acceleration. In other words, Porsche's new GTS is beautiful, luxurious and impressively fast.

Which also means that it's like almost every other Porsche 911 out there.

Indeed, peruse the GTS's spec sheet for the advantages that its myriad detail changes have wrought and one can't help but wonder at the minimal improvement. The GTS's 4.2 second zero-to-100kph time, for instance, is exactly 0.1 seconds quicker than a garden-variety (if, indeed, any 911 can be labelled common) Carrera 2S. Ditto for its 306kph top speed, which is a completely academic four klicks up on the standard item. And while there's no doubt those superwide tires and the 32-millimetre wider track can generate prodigious grip, adroit indeed would be the driver who can tell the difference between the GTS's cornering abilities and that of the Carrera 2S.

So, what you're saying, David, is that the Carrera GTS is a waste of money, right?

Not quite. In fact, not at all. For one thing, the main reason that the GTS fails to dramatically improve the Carrera 2S's comportment isn't because Porsche's engineers have suddenly forgotten how to build sports cars, but rather that the base Carrera 2S is already such a phenomenal example of the breed that improvements come grudgingly. Until Porsche decides that an entire remake of the venerable 911 is in order (and the wait shan't be long, methinks), this is just about as fast and as slippery as the normally aspirated version of the iconic Porsche is likely to get.

And Porsche's engineers really do know what they're doing. The changes to the engine, for instance, are all gain and no pain. Even the though the 23hp gain - from the 385hp of the Carrera to the GTS's 408 - is relatively modest, it comes with absolutely no fuel economy penalty; the GTS averages the same 10.2L/100km as the lesser version.

More impressively, while Porsche spins the GTS's 3.8L engine higher - to 7,300rpm - to exact its horsepower gain, the engineers have also managed to lower its torque peak (still the same 420Nm as the regular Carrera) by 200rpm to 4,200rpm. This is the first time that I have ever seen an engine gain horsepower by spinning to higher rpm while simultaneously lowering the rpm at which its maximum grunt is improved; the increased breadth of the powerband is noticeable. This combination of increased power and civility is the result of a new exhaust system and a revised manifold in which all six intake runners have individual flapper valves (rather than the standard Carrera's single such device) to alter the intake tract length. Ingenious, effective and without penalty; that all upgrades should be so efficacious.

What truly makes GTS interesting, however, is the packaging. I know, I know: it's usually the most boring aspect of a road test, but in this case it is the GTS's very raison d'être. You see, the engine changes noted above are available on the Carrera S. Pony up about €12,000 (Dh60,105) for the option Power kit and you can have the same performance from your Carrera S.

Indeed, almost all of the GTS's upgrades are available as options or are sourced from another current 911. The aggressive front grille, for instance, is part of the SportDesign package. The side sills are liberated from the GT2. The gorgeous centre lock wheels are standard fare on the Turbo S and an option on the regular Turbo while those wide rear fenders and wider track are essentially Turbo items as well. Throw in a few bespoke items such as the alcantara-covered SportDesign steering wheel and you have what, if individually ordered, would be a €119,000 (Dh600,500) Carrera 2S, says Porsche.

Instead, the Carrera GTS coupe costs €104,395 (Dh 526,825), which compares quite favourably with the €98,628 Porsche Germany wants for the Plain Jane Carrera 2S. Perhaps, then, this (relatively) small price hike casts the GTS in a whole new light. Yes, the bump in performance is modest. But the price increase is even more (at least by Porsche standards) moderate, especially considering the GTS's exclusivity.

The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS will be available in the UAE in January.

The specs

Base price Dh394,000

Engine 3.8L boxer six cylinder

Gearbox six-speed manual

Power 408hp @ 7,300 rpm

Torque 310Nm @ 4,200 rpm

Fuel economy, combined 10.2L/100km