Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet review

Porsche’s latest drop-top is the 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet and it just might be the most rounded version of the all-rounder sportscar…
By Dejan Jovanovic, Features Writer
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February 24, 2017
With immense grip levels, unfailing stability and exhilarating performance, the GTS Cabriolet remains a purist’s delight
With immense grip levels, unfailing stability and exhilarating performance, the GTS Cabriolet remains a purist’s delight(1/7)
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The black 20in centre-lock wheels and lower ride height add to the GTS Cabrio’s sporty stance
The black 20in centre-lock wheels and lower ride height add to the GTS Cabrio’s sporty stance (3/7)
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As you’d expect in a 911 GTS, the steering is well-weighted and highly communicative
As you’d expect in a 911 GTS, the steering is well-weighted and highly communicative(6/7)
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There are plenty of Porsche 911s to go around, we don’t have to shove and push. At last count, 19 of them. In fact the 911 line-up has its own line-ups. Like, do you want yours turbocharged or really turbocharged? How many driven wheels do you prefer? How wide do you want it? Tin-top or drop-top? How about both at the same time? Porsche has a practical sportscar suitable to every personality. For those who simply cannot make up their minds there is now a new option making things easier in cases of chronic aboulomania, usually caused by exposure to people in Martini polo shirts and prolonged use of the online Porsche configurator. That new option is a one-size-fits-all Porsche called the 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet. (Unless you go for the ‘deletion of model designation’ option, then it’s not called anything.)

After trying the latest model up and down country roads surrounding Cape Town, and around the tight little 3.5km Killarney club circuit on the outskirts of the South African city, this Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet could likely be the ideal 911 for driving, using, posing and enjoying: a referential crossover sportscar.

Here’s the nub: as an all-sorts the new GTS nameplate returns suffixed to the 911 as a whole sub-line in itself including five body style choices, and a menu of manual or automatic transmissions, rear- or all-wheel drive, and sports chassis or not. In the new turbocharged era of the neun-elf, the GTS bridges the gap between a Carrera and Andreas Preuninger’s GT cars rolling straight out of the competitions department. With uprated performance and uncompromised usability the GTS cars have come to represent the best Carreras you can buy, and second-hand values of the previous-generation GTS reflect this premium demand of the badge and philosophy: cram all the options into the price and make a modern-day Super Carrera… (Why can’t we have Super Carreras again?)

So the options, they include all-wheel drive Carrera bodywork that comes with a 44mm wider track, and 20mm lower ride height on 20in centre-lock wheels (proper centre-lock wheels, not just a plastic hub over normal lugs, Mercedes…). Sport Chrono is standard on every GTS, and all the design details are contrasted in black so they work best with a bright, primary body colour like this red. If they still don’t see you, pump the throttle — a sports exhaust system is standard.

On the move I can’t make much of a discernible difference between the closed cars and this Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet. I’m not a huge fan of open 911s more because of the line, but as these convertible things go this has to be the way to do it. Porsche has found a way to integrate higher-strength steel into this updated 997.2 generation car’s structure without adding weight, and stiffened the whole thing so you can drop into drainage trenches and ride bridge joints without any vibrations. Merely the steering wheel rim, thin and round like it should be (these aren’t single seaters, we don’t need squared-off wheels…), feels slightly hollow when you run over washboard gravel or something like that. Otherwise the electric system stays taut and coupled to the pronounced rear-axle steering the all-wheel drive traction and new Pirelli P Zero tyres grip everywhere at pretty much all sane road speeds. Just point, and stay between the fender tips that always mark the way in a 911. Up and down the spectacular Franschhoek Pass you only swing about half lock that way and half lock this way, and the car does the rest.

It’s easy, and the extra power from the new 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six, and maximum torque of 550Nm at 2,150rpm make it easier. You don’t even need to flex a toe to call up a downshift from the seven-speed PDK up steep gradients. There’s torque to go around, and this kind of laid-back Cabriolet doesn’t exactly live up to the GTS badge I remember. It used to be about more furious power delivery and a hostile response to the throttle. Pump the accelerator roughly in old naturally aspirated 911 GTSs, and you’d get neurotic jumps right back in return. Feeding the pedal in smoothly, the rising revs headed towards the better side of 8,000rpm and there is little else better than a flat-six freebasing straight air.

Now it’s all smooth and refined, and too much torque spoils a man. The aluminium shift paddles are nice but you can just get around everywhere in fifth. Turn a little plastic knob at four o’clock on the wheel to S+, and you get incentive to use the paddles with everything sharpened up and primed. For the 450bhp peak, Porsche engineers got the extra 20bhp over a Carrera S out of the 3.0-litre by fitting new turbochargers and turning up the boost a little. The quickest GTS combo (Coupé, AWD, PDK…) will do 0-100kph in 3.6 seconds, but with a weight penalty of about 50kg (and a price premium of about 40 grand) the 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet needs a tenth longer, still making this drop-top faster than a 997 generation GT3.

It’s also still quite noticeably force-fed, which sadly can’t dull the symptoms of premature nostalgia. The old naturally aspirated flat-six was better… But the man in Brussels spoke. (Electric steering and auto stop-start and such fuel-saving systems don’t make sod-all difference in the real world, only on a test bench.)

If you don’t mind some of that old exhilaration missing and if you can stand the industrial sounds of sucking and cooling dominating the rear end, in a line-up that offers one of everything, the 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet seems to be everything in one.

Specs and rating

Model:Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet

Engine:3.0-litre six-cyl turbo

Transmission:Seven-speed auto, AWD

Max power:450bhp @ 6,500rpm

Max torque:550Nm @ 2,150rpm

Top speed:306kph

0-100kph:3.7sec

Length:4,528mm

Width:1,852mm

Height:1,293mm

Wheelbase:2,450mm

Weight:1,585kg

On sale:Now

Highs:Benchmark convertible sportscar and all-round 911

Lows:We miss the old manic engine