Porsche engineers credit the bulk of the 3.8’s 23-hp increase to a variable-resonance intake manifold. It utilizes six vacuum-controlled flaps that alter the air’s path to the cylinders at different rpm, optimizing torque and power. A carbon-fiber airbox, ported and polished cylinder heads, a sport exhaust, and a remapped ECU round out the changes.
Horsepower peaks at 7300 rpm, 800 rpm later than in the 385-hp Carrera S. Both cars make 310 lb-ft of torque, but in the GTS those pound feet are delivered at 4200 rpm (200 rpm sooner) and stick around until 5600 rpm. If the specs seem familiar, that’s because they’re the same as those for the $16,900 optional X51 Powerkit 3.8 for the Carrera S, one of several desirable standard features on the GTS.
What the GTS offers that you can’t get on a Carrera S are several exclusive visual alterations. “In the interior we emphasize the close relation to the GT models,” says August Achleitner, director of the Carrera product line. Stoop into the GTS and you’ll meet an interior swathed in Alcantara. The Cabriolet comes with back seats, but the 3,131-pound GTS coupe doesn’t. Why not? Porsche wanted to make it lighter than a Carrera S coupe, but the rear seats can be added back in for no extra cost.
Apart from the Carrera 4S rear flares, there are some exterior visual cues to distinguish the GTS from lesser Carreras. It comes with 19-inch centerlock alloy wheels which are only available on the 911 Turbo, GT2 RS, and GT3/RS. The rocker panels, taken from the GT2, are painted black, and the tailpipes poke out from a black-painted section of the bumper. The Sport Design apron uses a black spoiler lip to reduce front-end lift. The GTS Cabriolet has a drag coefficient of 0.31, the same as a GTS coupe with PDK (due to additional cooling needs). The GTS coupe with the manual transmission checks in with a cD of 0.30, where a 2011 Carrera S coupe with the stick shift registers 0.29.
The biggest difference from the Carrera S isn’t what the wind sees, or what the seat of your pants perceives. It’s what you get for the price you pay: The GTS Cabriolet costs $112,900. A Carrera S Cabriolet retails for $101,500, but adding the X51 option alone brings the S Cabrio’s price to $118,400, never mind other options. So while it’s hard to call the GTS a new model, it makes a strong case as a well-optioned Carrera S with the Powerkit 3.8 thrown in for free. Of course, the $103,100 GTS coupe presents an even more compelling argument…