Ready your hand above the big red button for the cliche klaxon, as we might be about to declare the new Carrera GTS version of the current 911 to be the 992 ‘sweet spot’. The one to have. The thinking man’s 911.
The reason is simple. The ultimate 992 is, depending on the kind of car you’re after, a Turbo S or GT3. Personally, it’d be the latter for me, but I’ll not judge anyone who’d prefer the sublime all-round, all-weather ability of the Turbo S. However, the GT3 is a little too hardcore for the road and not exactly the easiest thing to get hold of. Meanwhile, you have to question whether the 641bhp output of the Turbo S is really necessary.
Enter stage left, the Carrera GTS. Porsche has been slapping this badge on the rump of 911s since the 997, and the recipe has remained the same for every generation. The suspension drops by 10mm, the power goes up by around 30bhp, and some normally optional features are thrown in for free.
In the case of the 992 GTS, it gets standard sports seats, along with a 911 Turbo-derived chassis that lowers the ride height by, you guessed it, 10mm. As per its predecessors, there’s a visual makeover including smoked front and rear light clusters, centre-locking wheels from the Turbo, and various natty black bits. Contrast these nicely with a light colour, and you’re left with what might just be the best-looking 992.
Unlocking the extra power is an increase in turbo boost pressure from 1.17 to 1.35 bar, and that’s it. Internally, the 3.0-litre flat-six is identical to the one in the Carrera S, although there is a beefed-up intercooler system to deal with the increased compressor-side temperatures in the turbos. There’s visible evidence of this, with the GTS gaining a bespoke rear bumper with a couple of additional air outlets below the number plate.
What we’re left with is a car that slots neatly between the lesser Carreras and the weapons-grade Turbo, Turbo S and GT3 992s. Not that it feels a poor relation to the last three when you put your foot down. The GTS is still obscenely quick, which is entirely unsurprising given that the uplift in power gives a new figure of 473bhp. That isn’t much less than a GT3. Its 7:25.632 Nurburgring lap lags behind the GT3’s 6:59.927, but Lars Kern, who was behind the wheel for both efforts, reckons a more concerted effort with the GTS (including some tweaks and better tyres) would yield a circa-7:10.
It’s no wonder, really. Via some laps at Franciacorta, Porsche’s new Italian Experience Centre playground, the GTS reveals itself to have done a fine job building on the 911’s existing attributes. We’re talking about stubborn traction in the base Carrera 2 GTS that makes you question the point in the all-drive 4 GTS, confidence-inspiring high-speed stability, and linear, natural-feeling electric power steering.
Thanks to the chassis tweaks, the 992 is keener when it comes to fast changes in direction, and generally more responsive to your inputs. Understeer does occasionally rear its ugly, front-tyre torturing head, a near-inevitable quirk of the 911’s atypical rear-engine layout. It’s marginally less prevalent in the GTS, at least, if not as thoroughly stamped out as it is in the GT3 with its double-wishbone front suspension setup.
Turbo lag is still impressively brief despite the increase in boost pressure, and the 3.0-litre ‘B6’ flat-six is a little more vocal thanks to a reduction in soundproofing. You can make the cabin rowdier still by speccing the Lightweight Design Package, which adds fixed-back carbon bucket seats, ditches the rear bench, switches to thinner rear glass and adopts new underbody aero. The seats are lovely, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea crapping all over the 911’s USP as a 2+2 to have them. Plus, the pack isn’t exactly cheap with an expected price of around £6000 - 7000 when it becomes available later this year.
The vast majority of buyers will go for a ‘PDK’ automatic gearbox, but there is a seven-speed manual on the options list. It’s not the sweetest-shifting thing out there, with some care needed to extract a smooth shift, but it suits the engine well and has some acceptably short ratios, reaching the peak power mark in second gear at around 60mph. It’s a shame you can’t switch off the auto blip yourself without turning off Porsche Stability Management, though, particularly since the pedals are near-enough bang on for easy self-rev matching.
From a technical standpoint, the 911 GTS is incredibly difficult to fault, so long as you stick with a coupe - the Cabriolet is heavy and has an ungainly-looking rear, and while the Targa is prettier, it’s porkier still. I feel like it’s the one I should be lusting after from the Carrera range, but the problem is, I’m not. A 992 is so good out of the box, I’m just not sure it needs more stuff. It certainly doesn’t need any more power, with the Carrera S already nearing supercar levels of straight-line performance. On the road in the GTS, the extra grunt tips it into frustrating territory, where moments of wide-open throttle are annoyingly brief.
It’s at this point I come back to that ‘pauper spec’ base Carrera I drove a few months ago as the true 911 (hope you’re still ready on that klaxon) ‘sweet spot’. Exciting though the bells and whistles of the GTS sound, you just don’t need them. It’s a shame the Carrera isn’t, for the time being at least, available with a manual, but it’s still mega with a PDK ‘box. And if you want the bells and whistles, well, I won’t judge - the GTS makes a very strong case for itself.