Since Porsche launched the new turbocharged range of 911 Carreras a year and a half ago, Zuffenhausen has been busy extending the range to include every iteration you can think of barring hybrids (coming for the 992…), and most recently, no fewer than five iterations of GTS 911s joined the line-up.
The premise is simple, to bridge the gap between standard Carreras and Andreas Preuninger’s GT department cars, such as the new 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six GT3 producing 500bhp with that rennsport engine just launched in Geneva.
The GTS 911s are that balance and since the GTS nameplate returned (first seen on a little Sixties racecar) with the 2007 Cayenne to signify particularly sporting cars across every model line, it came to stand for “full-options baba” as well.
Indeed you could do worse just ticking every available box when configuring your 911 and Porsche’s GTS cars save you the bother. For starters, you get a wider track whether you go for rear- or all-wheel drive and a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six making 30bhp over a Carrera S for a 450bhp total and developing 550Nm of torque from 2,150rpm.
Everyone will go for the seven-speed double-clutch transmission but a seven-speed manual is also available and recommended — there’s so much torque from the new force-fed engine (110Nm more than the old GTS), you hardly need to change gear if you’re just commuting. And when you’re using the click-clack lever out on open roads, seven speeds doesn’t disturb your flow because the final one’s overdrive and it resists throws if you mistakenly miss fifth.
Sport Chrono is also standard equipment and so are the Turbo’s 20in cross-spoke centrelock wheels with new Pirelli tyres premiering on the GTS cars.
Despite a lack of a big spoiler, the GTS cars also gain aerodynamic improvements so that they actually produce a bit of downforce over the rear axle. In fastest spec, for example, (all-wheel drive Coupé GTS with a PDK) the new model outpaces its predecessor by 12 seconds around the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
This isn’t fastest spec, however — it’s a manual car, with a Targa body style and all-wheel drive (if you choose the Targa you can’t have two-wheel drive), but it doesn’t matter a bit because all GTS cars share ample performance without any of the discomfort caused by the 911 Turbo’s brutality. That car pummels you and your fitness marks the limits, but a GTS with a Targa is just the thing for a flowing drive out of the city if you don’t mind extreme buffeting at speed. And it’s always at speed.
You’ll recognise the Targa anywhere with that characteristic roll bar, after a long hiatus once again (but for the first time on a 911 GTS) supplied in black. That’s the theme: black, with black wheels, smoked tail lights, gloss black intake grille and black central pipes, and more black inside whether it’s Alcantara or leather or plastic.
The 911 Targa 4 GTS starts from Dh533,500 though you didn’t think Porsche would leave all the options out, did you?
You can still spec things like rear-axle steering and those sports exhausts. In fact, in Cape Town, where I tested the car, 911 line boss August Achleitner says they even took out some sound insulation back there in an attempt to recoup something, emotionally speaking, that’s inevitably been lost with the new turbocharged engine. (GTS-specific turbochargers, by the way…)
“The target customer for the new GTS,” says Achleitner, “is the customer who tends to buy a GT3, but wants to use the car a little bit more every day… so the GTS with all its equipment is the best combination.”
I can’t grasp why you wouldn’t want to use a GT3 every day, but with cars like the 911 Targa 4 GTS it’s not a bad dilemma to be in.