2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS first drive review: The bargain 911


Cape Town, South Africa – I’m at the wheel of the 2017 Porsche 911 GTS at Killarney Raceway behind 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Marc Lieb and I’m frustrated. Lieb, in the even more powerful 911 Turbo S, is setting a leisurely pace and I want to pass him. It’s not because I’m some world-class driver. Another well-meaning but less confident journalist is trailing behind and Lieb needs to keep this lead-follow trio together. The other journalist is going as fast as he can within his comfort zone. I’m going at about six tenths. This amazing piece of German engineering is barely exercised, and Lieb is probably taking the opportunity to do his taxes.

I’m mostly frustrated because I’m not really learning anything about this car’s near-the-limit handling. The GTS is the 911 turned up a notch and I want to put it through its paces to see if it’s worth the approximately $ 16,000 premium Porsche charges for the car while I have the chance to test it on a racetrack. Maybe that’s just not in the cards today.

A six-figure bargain

Let’s back up a bit. Just what is the 911 Carrera GTS, and what makes it special?

On paper, the 911 GTS is a bargain by Porsche standards. Over and above an S model, it essentially adds about $ 30,000 worth of equipment for that $ 16,000 premium.

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Media Drive, Cape Town, South Africa, January 2017

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Media Drive, Cape Town, South Africa, January 2017

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The 911 Carrera GTS is offered in every body style: coupe, Targa, and Cabriolet. The Targa is actually the all-wheel-drive Targa 4, and the coupe and Cabriolet are offered as rear- or all-wheel-drive models. All get the wide body from the Carrera 4, giving them a 1.57-inch wider track at the rear. Up front, the GTS models feature the toothier SportDesign front fascia and a more pronounced front spoiler. At the rear, the spoiler extends higher than on Carrera S models to reduce lift front and rear.

The easiest way to spot a GTS model (aside from the GTS badge) is the blacked out trim, which includes the logos, rear grille, tailpipes, and Targa bar on that model. Don’t worry, if you don’t like the black, you can opt for the stainless trim that best defines the Targa. Porsche’s racing style 20-inch center-lock wheels from the Turbo S model are standard, and they come painted in satin black as well.

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The coupe models get the Porsche Active Suspension Management Sport Suspension, which lowers the car .039 inch compared to the S model, and the others have the standard PASM Suspension. Both systems are essentially adaptive dampers. The Sport Chrono package is standard. It includes dynamic engine mounts; a launch control feature; a digital and analog lap timer; a mode switch with Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual modes; and a Sport Response button that readies the engine and transmission for optimal performance for 20 seconds. The Sport Exhaust system is also standard and all GTS models have less sound insulation to make the engine note more prominent.

Inside, the GTS models feature 4-way sport seats in leather and Alcantara, anodized brushed black aluminum trim, and Alcantara on the steering wheel, center console, and armrests. The Porsche Communication Management infotainment system also runs the new Porsche Track Precision app, which works with the owner’s smartphone to record lap times, take videos, and export that information to Facebook.

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