A Relative Bargain

Whether the Carrera GTS deserves its own model name is open for debate—but it does offer pricey 911 options at a discount.

January 21, 2011

Also from Issue 190

  • GT3 RS vs. Boxster Spyder
  • 934 vs. 935
  • 1996 911 GT1
  • Window through time
  • 1998 993 Carrera Cabrio
  • 1974 911 3.5
  • The Wild 911s of Rauh Welt
  • Porsche Bargains
  • 356/1 Recreation
  • 2011 Panamera S
  • Tech Forum
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Mehr leistung; more power. That’s the name of the game for Porsche’s “new” Carrera GTS, intended to deftly split the hair separating Carrera S from GT3. Most important, perhaps, is the improved torque band; at least that’s what the Porsche engineers say. They also say it has a “sexy rear end,” wider by 44 mm.

Strapped into a GTS Cabriolet with a six-speed manual transmission, the seat of our pants found it hard to believe Porsche’s claim that this luxurious convertible 911 can reach 62 mph in just 4.8 seconds. Why? Its speed is deceptive. The 408-bhp flat six’s smooth power delivery lulls you into more speed than you had in mind. While the GTS may not feel like a four-second car from behind the wheel, you can be sure it is. Car and Driver got a 385-bhp 2009 Carrera S coupe to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, a result that suggests the 408-bhp GTS Cabriolet may be quite a bit quicker than Porsche’s official claim.

Porsche claims the GTS handles more neutrally than the Carrera S despite its wider rear end, and the banked, constant-radius turns outside Palm Desert are perfect for experimenting with the effects of throttle position on handling. Lifting off the gas pedal slightly has the GTS’s nose settling and turning in. Squeezing its throttle past the apex is all it takes to widen our arc and track out. We noticed slight understeer in the GTS Cabriolet in slower corners, something we didn’t experience during our brief stint in the GTS coupe.

The steering is tactile and light and there are no dead spots, but, as with other 997s, it’s slightly numb just off center. The GTS Cabriolet isn’t as rigid as the coupe, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice that unless you drive them back-to-back. Both versions process lumps in the road neatly thanks to their PASM dampers. The GTS sits 10-mm lower than a Carrera S, while a 3.0-mm thicker, hollow front anti-roll bar keeps body roll in check.

The GTS is further stabilized by its 32-mm wider rear track, a product of 10-mm wider, 305/30ZR19 tires and different wheel offsets sitting under the wider rear flares. A mechanical limited-slip differential with 28-percent lockup on acceleration and 23 percent on deceleration improves traction through curves.

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