Edmunds editor Carlos Lago tests out the 2017 Porsche 911 GTS on the curvy mountain roads of Lake Tahoe. The 450-horsepower GTS is a bit more powerful, lower and aerodynamically cleaner than the 911 S. All the small changes add up to make for a more fun and engaging driving experience.
[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: This is the Porsche 911 GTS. What's the GTS? It's a variant of the 911 that sits above the S, but isn't quite as fast as the GT 3 or turbo models. Simply, this model combines a lot of the go fast options that you can get on the 911 S and some on the 911, as well. It's a little bit more powerful. It's a little bit lower. It's a bit cleaner air dynamically. It's a lot of small incremental changes that add up to make a more engaging, more fun driving experience, and it's a bit faster too. You have 450 horsepower now, credited to larger turbochargers that make more boost. You've got unique wheels. The ones in the rear are actually wider than wheels you can get on any other 911. They look like the Turbo S wheels, but they're actually black instead of the silver that you would get on the other models. The big difference that isn't that big at all is that rear drive models get the wider body from the four wheel drive models. Now, you can get GTS on rear all wheel drive coupe convertible targa, with the automatic, with the manual, with-- there's plenty of ways to order this car, but when you get it with the rear drive, you get the wider body from the four wheel drive model. And that means wider rear tracks, the rear wheels are a little bit further apart. Now, that may seem like a small thing, but that's the degree. It speaks to the level that Porsche keeps honing and refining and tuning these cars. And the GTS represents that focus. These are not huge comprehensive changes. They're slight additions that make the experience a little bit more exciting. What's the attraction to the GTS package then? The option, as Porsche points out, is that similarly equips this, versus a comfortable equipped 911 S, this is about 10% cheaper. When Porsche went to turbocharged flat 6s and all of its models, we were kind of worried that they would lose some of the excitement that we had come to know from revving one of these things out, but in this version with more power, it makes for an engine that feels broadly powerful and very brawny, regardless of where you're at in the RPM range of the tack. At low speeds when you're commuting around town dipping in the throttle produces a substantial acceleration. And when you really start getting into the middle range, it's really rewarding too. Credits revving this thing out as the way it sounds and part of that has to do with the GTS' sport exhaust system, but again another thing that's optional on the 911. The sport exhaust gives it that-- a little bit of that howl, but more so of when you lift up the throttle, you get the sounds of deceleration, the popping, the crackle, which makes-- always kind of makes you smile. It reminds you that you're driving something special and something sporty. Whee. And I love the way a 911 gets off of a corner. There's traction. There's confidence. There's power. There's a lot of-- just a lot of excitement and fun. And the real crucial thing about 911s is that they had that capability, no matter how you're driving them. If you're driving this car to work, you're still going to enjoy it at low speeds. When you're driving hard on a mountain road, it's going to be thrilling and exciting. And when you're driving it on a race track, it has all the capability you could want, regardless of your driving skill. This is a car that you can learn with as time goes on. This is something that you could experience and appreciate more and more the longer you own it. So that's the Porsche 911 GTS. Thank you guys for watching. If you want to see more, keep it tuned right here. [MUSIC PLAYING]
The 2017 Porsche 911 is available in a dizzying variety of configurations that range from truly quick to super fast and blindingly speedy. And for the first time virtually all 911s ? with a spectacular exception ? are turbocharged. That's right, even the base 911, the regular old Carrera, has two turbochargers heaving air into its horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine. And, yes, that engine is still hanging off the back of the 911 where physics says it shouldn't be ? and Porsche's engineers make it work brilliantly anyhow.
To keep things confusing, the glorious 911 Turbo continues as the superstar of the Porsche 911 galaxy. We'll get back to that heavenly body in a few paragraphs.
Designed from scratch for the 2017 model year, the engine in the Carrera is still a six-cylinder, but the displacement is now 3.0 liters (down from last year's non-turbocharged 3.4 liters), and thanks to its turbochargers, horsepower has risen from 350 horsepower to a mighty 370 hp. And it gets better fuel mileage. Move up to the Carrera S model with its larger turbos and advanced exhaust system, and the output of the 3.0-liter six rises to a spine-tingling 420 hp.
As before, the Carrera and Carrera S models are rear-wheel-drive, while the Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S are all-wheel-drive. All the Carreras are available with either a seven-speed manual transmission or Porsche's Doppelkupplung (PDK) seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The Carreras are offered as coupes, cabriolet convertibles or the retractable-roof Targa 4 and Targa 4S. The styling has been tweaked for 2017, but not too much. After all, a 911 has to look like a 911.
And then there are the Turbos. Using a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder, the Turbo models are rated at 540 hp; the Turbo S gets larger turbos that fortify the engine up to 580 hp. They are available as coupes or cabriolets and feature all-wheel drive. The Turbos are simply some of the quickest and fastest cars available at any price. And the price is high.
OK, the non-turbocharged exceptions are the 911 GT3, the 911 GT3 RS and the 911R. The latter two use a 4.0-liter six-cylinder that's never been near a turbocharger but slams out an utterly exhilarating 500 hp. The GT3 models are narrowly focused on track performance, while the 911R is a limited edition (only 991 units to be made) designed for the Porsche purist who wants an undiluted 911 experience. None of them are cheap.
The EPA rates the 2017 911 Carrera coupe with the PDK dual-clutch automatic at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway) and the mighty 911 Turbo S cabriolet at 21 mpg combined (19 city/24 highway). The narrowly focused GT3 and 911R models get considerably lower mileage than that.
Beyond just the right engine and body, Porsche offers a blizzard of expensive options. Use the buying tools on Edmunds to find the right 2017 Porsche 911 for you. 2017 porsche 911 gts first drive
The problem with a car like the Porsche 911 is that at some point you have to make it better. That hasn't stopped Porsche, which for decades has continued to refine its rear-engine sports car. The resulting stream of constant, sometimes incremental updates almost define the 911. Today, the result is one of the best sports cars money can buy.
Yet, the improvements must continue. Like all sports cars, the 911 could always be a little more powerful, it could handle a little more sharply, its bodywork could reap better aerodynamic benefits, and so on. Porsche provides options for the base and S 911 variants that do these things, but what if they were standard equipment? And how about for a slight discount? That's the 911 GTS.
It's in the Details
The GTS trim is available on Carrera coupe and Cabriolet (convertible) models, as well as the power-retractable hardtop Targa model. Rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed manual are standard, save for the Targa, which is all-wheel-drive only. Regardless of roof type or the number of drive wheels, all GTS models come standard with go-fast upgrades that are optional on lesser 911s. Larger turbochargers develop more boost and help increase engine output to 450 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. The SportDesign front bumper and rear spoiler reduce lift, a standard sport exhaust gives the engine bigger lungs, and the interior comes wrapped with Alcantara simulated suede.
Aside from the requisite logos and black exterior trim, the GTS also has a few upgrades you can't get on other 911s, though they're subtle enough that only aficionados might notice. Coupes come with a 0.4-inch-lower suspension (standard ride height is available at no cost), and rear-drive models use the 1.7-inch-wider body from the all-wheel drive models, which permits a 0.5-inch width increase for the rear wheels. Speaking of wheels, buyers can choose between two styles of satin black 20-inch rollers. Both designs use Porsche's center-lock system, with one large centrally located lug nut instead of the usual five. The design makes the wheels marginally lighter, but the special tools they require mean costlier and more time-consuming removal and installation when you get a flat.
More than the Sum
The changes sound minor because they are minor, which takes us back to the difficulty of improving the 911. What do you do next? To find out, we drove a rear-wheel-drive convertible and an all-wheel-drive coupe, both with manual transmissions, which Porsche expects how most GTS models will be ordered.
We learned that rather than transform the driving experience, the GTS hones the qualities that make the 911 so engaging. Crucial to that experience is an immediate feeling of familiarity. Settling into the soft faux suede-shod interior is pleasing, as is the absence of superfluous controls on the base steering wheel. A small dial on the bottom right adjusts drive mode, and there is little else to interfere with driving.
The first step after turning it on? Press the button with the image of tailpipes on it. While doing so doesn't seem to make the exhaust louder, it introduces some welcome burbling and popping on deceleration. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six revs quickly. There's torque immediately off idle that builds to a brawny midrange. And where many turbocharged engines stumble at high revs, the 911's builds in power and excitement.
The GTS feels faster than its 450 horsepower might suggest — after all, you get more horses in a Camaro SS. But many sports cars with greater power falter in delivering the confidence that ultimately makes a car and its driver faster. The accuracy and weighting of the 911's steering, the tractable power of its engine, and its chassis' balance provide a sure-footedness that compels you to push harder. The 911 builds speed deceivingly and shrugs off corners with little regard to how fast you've gone through them. No matter the skill level, drivers of all types will find easy enjoyment with the 911.
Pay to Play
The GTS starts at $121,750. That might induce some sticker shock, but it's a deal in the context of the lineup. If you were to option any 911 equally, the GTS would be around 10 percent less expensive. That makes it the sweet spot for performance-minded buyers who don't want the extreme speed or cost of the GT3 and Turbo models.
Alas, not every performance option is standard. If little matters to you beyond 0-60 mph acceleration, Porsche's seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission not only shifts faster than any human can with a manual, it also adds launch control and a sport response button that temporarily puts the car in its most aggressive drive mode for when you need to make a quick pass. A rear-steering system improves both low-speed turning radius and high-speed stability by turning the rear wheels slightly in and out of phase with the fronts. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control adds active anti-roll bars that continually adjust roll resistance through corners. Carbon-ceramic brakes intend to improve the life of brake rotors during super aggressive driving. And Porsche offers a track-oriented Pirelli Corsa tire that's sure to improve lap times at the expense of tire wear.
The necessity of these options depends entirely on the perceived value from the person checking the list. But no matter how it's optioned, the driving experience reiterates what we hold true to all modern 911s: You can't go wrong with any of them.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.