Porsche’s GTS badge is a staple now. From Cayenne to Cayman, GTS means more power and sharper handling, the primo Porsche enthusiast bits—Sport Chrono, Powerpack, Active Suspension—bundled together. The 911 GTS, now in its third iteration, follows that old formula. But it ultimately breaks the mold. This 991.2 GTS is more than just a souped-up Carrera S. It’s a scaled-back 911 Turbo.
Part of that Baby 911 Turbo character is inherent: Porsche’s Carrera models are all turbocharged now. But the GTS goes further. Larger turbos push Porsche’s 3.0-liter flat six to 450 hp and 408 lb. ft. of torque, increases of 30 and 39, respectively, over the Carrera S. On paper, 30 doesn’t impress. In practice, it’s manic. The GTS’s engine swells from 2200 rpm, whooshing like a Ramjet as boost builds into its beefy midrange. At 3000 rpm the torque hits, a concrete wall of of power, dropped from the exosphere, crashing to earth. Those 450 horses sling the GTS around with assurance, precision. Beyond 6000 rpm the thrust dies off, but you wring the thing out to its 7500 rpm redline just to hear the turbos and the exhaust burbles on overrun. The switch to turbocharging changes the GTS’s character, but doesn’t erase it.
Aesthetic updates abound. The front and rear bumpers are new (and gorgeous), as is the rear diffuser and re-angled rear wing, all claimed to improve downforce. The GTS shares springs and dampers with the Carrera S, with Porsche Active Stability Management (PASM) and a stiffer rear sway bar to go with the wider rear track; PASM Sport Suspension, which lowers the car 10mm, is standard on GTS coupes, optional elsewhere.
More importantly, all GTS 911s have the widened fenders of the Carrera 4S. The visual effect is undeniable, shrouding the 911 Turbo’s 20-inch center-lock wheels wrapped in 245/35 front and 305/35 rear tires. Pirelli P Zero Corsas, developed with Porsche for the Turbo, are optional.
Against a stopwatch, these collective improvements pay dividends. On the upgraded Pirellis, Porsche says the rear-drive GTS will lap the Nurburgring in 7 minutes, 22 seconds. That’s just two seconds slower than the 911 GT3 RS, four seconds quicker than the current Carrera S, and a full 12 seconds better than the last GTS. A Porsche engineer mentioned that 7:20 may be possible. From a midrange 911 with an option package, that’s bonkers.
You might even call it a value. For Carrera S shoppers, the GTS is a no-brainer. Porsche says the bundle saves up to 10 percent compared to a Carrera S with GTS upgrades added individually. The GTS Coupe starts at $120,700, with the package available on Cabriolet, all-wheel drive, and Targa 4S models.
But which GTS to buy? We drove the least- and most-expensive models back to back to find out. The purist-special rear-drive GTS coupe with standard seven-speed manual was brilliant—sharper, leaner, and fiercer than its all-wheel drive siblings. This car will embarrass damned near anything you’ll encounter on a race track, and it’s the best value compared to a standard Carrera S. But it felt confined on public roads. The GTS coupe offers performance that’s difficult to probe in the real world.
Consider the 911 Targa 4 GTS with the PDK automatic. In the real world, it makes more sense, and in some scenarios it’s even more fun, the rip-quick shifts keeping the engine in that 3000-6000 rpm range it loves. Despite the added weight of a robot roof and all-wheel drive, turn-in is light and sharp, the steering full of granular feedback. Mid-corner behavior is neutral, the front end giving way to a slight push if overworked. The performance threshold is slightly lower than the rear-drive hardtop Carrera GTS, but you never feel cheated. You can play with the 4S, modulating throttle and trail braking to chase grip.
No GTS buyer will lose out. The car is transcendent in all forms, punching above its lot as an add-on package for sub-Turbo 911s. This iteration, with its turbocharged engine, wide track, and sublime Pirelli tires, will conflict any buyer savvy enough to cross shop the GTS with the top-dog 911 Turbo, a car that’s far more powerful (and more than $40,000 more expensive), but whose limits are inaccessible to normal drivers. The GTS isn’t just the most performance per dollar you can squeeze from the 911 lineup, it’s one of the finest road-going 911s ever made.
Update: An earlier version of this review said that the 911 GTS had P-Zero Trofeos, it actually has P-Zero Corsas. It has been updated accordingly.