Porsche expands the 911 sports car lineup with the addition of the 430-horsepower Carrera GTS model for 2015. It splits the difference between the popular, road-going, 400-hp Carrera S and the hard-core, track-ready 475-hp 911 GT3.
There's nothing radical about the 911 GTS, as it combines many elements already available on lesser models, but it does package them with enough unique enhancements to make it a compelling upgrade from the standard model.
What Is It?
The 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is a more powerful, more flamboyant, slightly better-handling version of the standard 911 Carrera S. It fills a small niche that Porsche sees between the lower-level 911 models and the all-out, track-focused 911 GT3.
Every GTS — rear- or all-wheel drive, coupe or cabriolet — gets the wide fenders used on the Carrera 4 models and the accompanying widened rear track. Also standard are special 20-inch, gloss black wheels with a center lock hub. Center lock wheel hubs (which use a single screw-on nut instead of five lug nuts) are familiar to road racers and have been available on the 911 Turbo S. But this is the first time Porsche has offered center locks on the non-turbocharged 911.
Black accents around the smoked bi-xenon headlights and a few other pieces of trim distinguish the GTS from other 911s. And, of course, there are GTS badges for the doors and rear deck lid.
The jewel in the GTS crown, however, is back in the engine bay. There the Carrera S's 3.8-liter flat-6 has been tweaked with the addition of a new intake manifold that incorporates six "resonance flaps" that are opened or closed depending on engine speed and how the driver is using the throttle pedal.
According to Porsche, this all results in better, more efficient filling of the combustion chambers. Then, for good measure, the cylinder head intake ports were smoothed using a new process that sounds like a chemical honing. Throw in some more aggressive camshafts and a standard sport exhaust, and the result is 30 more horsepower.
Any additional power is always appreciated. That noted, the 911 GTS coupe weighs in at about 3,142 pounds, and an additional 8.75 percent more power isn't going to fundamentally change the driving experience. Of course it will be quicker on a racetrack, but if racing is what matters, get a GT3.
What Body Styles and Trims Are Available?
The Carrera GTS is available as a coupe or a convertible with either rear- or all-wheel drive in both body styles. If you want a Targa you'll have to wait. Porsche hasn't put that combination together yet.
The Carrera GTS is a well-equipped car from the start, but Porsche still has a long list of options to let the well-heeled buyer indulge his or her whims. That includes such pricey performance options as the $4,840 PDK dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic transmission, $8,520 ceramic composite brakes and $4,050 for a package deal that includes the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and PASM sport suspension.
If you don't like the standard suedelike trim that covers much of the cabin, an interior package is offered in either red or silver that adds an extra helping of leather in addition to various trim changes that brighten up the otherwise black-accented cabin.
Prices for the 911 Carrera GTS coupe start at $115,195, but it would take superhuman restraint to actually order one that didn't top $150,000.
How Does It Drive Around Town?
Treat this 911 like it's a VW Golf and it will drive like a VW Golf. The GTS engine is slightly more flexible than in the Carrera S, but not so much that it's going to be noticeable under most circumstances. The current 991-series chassis is forgiving going over speed bumps, the nose won't catch climbing a steep driveway, and the engine idles in traffic without a hiccup.
Aston Martins, Ferraris and Lamborghinis may be finicky in everyday driving, but this Porsche isn't the least bit stressed by commuter duty.
Big people may find getting in and out of any 911 difficult, and the rear seat is not much more than a storage area. These are pretty much standard issues with any 911. That said, there's no car with this sort of towering performance that is easier to live with than this one.
How Does It Drive at Speed?
On an open road or, even better, a racetrack, the 911 Carrera GTS drives brilliantly. We had a chance to sample every variation of the GTS at a racetrack and it proved to be consistently and almost ludicrously entertaining.
Every Porsche 911 has the structural integrity of a medieval cathedral and the freakish reflexes of a rhesus monkey. Those are a given. Coming out of anything short of an exotic, every 911 feels better and quicker than the one that preceded it.
And the GTS is better still. That slight increase in power comes along with an ingratiating personality, the easygoing ability to generate torque when it needs to and an epic wailing spin to the top end when it's time to make history. Maybe there's a bit more steering effort in the GTS than the Carrera S, but it's hardly noticeable. The carbon brakes are so good you can apply them in December 2014 and find yourself stopped in October 1967.
Porsche claims that the 911 Carrera GTS coupe will sprint from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, which is about 0.1 second quicker than the Carrera S. Top speed is 306 km/h, which translates to 190 mph in American. Engage the standard sport exhaust system and the GTS sounds glorious at any speed.
But the 911 has grown over time into a big, substantial car on big wheels and tires. The reflexes are still there from the old air-cooled 911, but the instantaneous communication between car and driver has been muted somewhat. And the GTS package has done little to mitigate that.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
Aston Martin V8 Vantage S: This is also a two-seat sports car that uses a V8 to deliver its substantial punch. The "S" model is a slight upgrade over the standard Vantage that adds more power and a more aggressive chassis.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Like the GTS, the Z06 version of America's classic sports car features more power, revised styling and plenty of extras. It's more aggressive overall, but it's also less expensive.
Mercedes-AMG GT: An all-new sports car from Mercedes that blends a 462-hp V8 with an ultra-stiff chassis and aggressive styling. It's also strictly a two-seater that doesn't pretend to be anything but an all-out sports car.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
You want something a little more aggressive and distinctive than the standard Carrera S but you don't want to step all the way up to a Turbo or GT3.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
As many upgrades as there are on the GTS, it's still not the pinnacle of performance when it comes to the 911. If bragging rights matter, the Turbo or the GT3 are more coveted.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.