2018 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS: The Brightest Stars in the Constellation

Strong points
  • Comprehensive lineup
  • High-performance engine
  • Fast automated twin-clutch gearbox
  • Timeless style
  • Fully loaded
Weak points
  • High prices
  • Expensive options
  • High operating costs
  • Anecdotal back seats
Full report

The new GTS models bring the total number of current Porsche 911 Carrera variants with turbo engines to 19, while the R, GT3 and GT3 RS remain true to the naturally-aspirated engine—at least for now. As it stands, the GTS lineup consists of five versions, including coupes and cabriolets that come with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and the Targa 4 GTS with all-wheel drive only.

Purists will also be pleased to learn that the 911 Carrera GTS comes standard with a seven-speed manual gearbox. The seven-speed twin-clutch PDK will be offered on option.

Above the S, below the GT3 and Turbo

Like before, the GTS family is positioned above the S and below the 911 GT3 and 911 Turbo. This very subtle segmentation with 19 different variants gives the potential Porsche 911 Carrera buyer no shortage of choices. You want a 911 Carrera? Great! But which one?

As you’d expect, the GTS models have the body of the Carrera 4 and 4S, which is why they are wider than the regular Carrera and Carrera S. Moreover, the GTS has a more classic look, featuring 20-inch black alloy rims with centre caps as well as darkened taillights.

The all-wheel-drive versions can be distinguished from the rear-wheel drivers by the number 4 on the rear shield or by the colour of the strip that connects the lights—dark for RWD, light for AWD. The 3.0-litre flat-six engine gets bigger turbochargers, with increased pressure that helps the GTS generate 450 horsepower—30 more horsepower than the current Carrera S.

Photo: Daniel Wollstein

Leather and alcantara

On all GTS versions, the cabin stands out with the standard Sport Chrono Package and the new Porsche Track Precision application. This app captures data on your smartphone and provides a detailed analysis of your track performance. It displays videos of completed laps and data readings for braking, lateral acceleration in turns and reacceleration when coming out of a turn.

Standard GTS logo-adorned sport seats headline this passenger cabin, which also features leather and Alcantara covering for the sport steering wheel, shift knob and armrests.

On the track

We got to demo the GTS lineup on the roads near Cape Town, South Africa and at the Killarney Raceway so we could take full advantage of its performance potential. The circuit is pretty bumpy in parts, and the GTS impressed us with its damping quality and steering finesse. Add to that a “permissive” electronic stability control with its one-two punch of great drifting and remarkable lateral acceleration.

Braking proved intense with massive deceleration courtesy of the GTS’s brakes, which are oversized compared to those of the 911 Carrera S. The rims and tires are a half-inch wider, and you really sense the car gripping with more gusto in corners.

As always, the PDK gearbox is a model of efficiency, both in downshifting as well as when reaccelerating. I also did a few laps with a 2018 Porsche 911 GTS equipped with the fabulous manual gearbox and its ultra-precise shifter, but the lap times were slightly slower than those with the twin-clutch gearbox. The car is more fun to drive with the manual transmission, but faster with the PDK. Ultimately, it’s a question of priorities.

I’d be remiss not to mention the remarkable sound of the GTS with sport exhaust. It seems noticeably more aggressive than the regular 911 Carrera’s sound. Sure, it doesn’t rev as freely as the previous version’s old naturally-aspirated flat-six, but at least the GTS has a certain liveliness about it that will make you forget that it has moved into the turbo era.

Photo: Gabriel Gélinas

On the road

On the roads around Cape Town, some of which were in questionable condition, the GTS wasn’t at too much of a disadvantage, as long as the rotary dial on the steering wheel was set to Normal mode. Sport and Sport Plus modes are more suitable to nice winding roads or the track.

This same selector also includes a button called Sport Response, which quickly chooses the lowest gear possible on the PDK twin-clutch transmission, sharpens gas response time and increases turbo pressure to the max for 20 seconds, which facilitates overtaking on secondary roads. Believe me: it’s addictive!

Five versions, four prices

All five new variants of the 2018 GTS are available for order, with the first units scheduled to arrive in Q2 2017. The pricing scale is as follows: $136,000 for the 911 Carrera GTS coupe, $143,900 for the 911 Carrera 4 GTS coupe, $150,000 for the 911 Carrera GTS cabriolet, $157,900 for the 911 Carrera 4 GTS cabriolet and the 911 Carrera Targa 4 GTS.

Basically, the Carrera GTS is like a 911, but loaded with the equipment offered on option on the S versions. Sharper yet still suitable for everyday use, the GTS variants have now become the brightest stars in the 911 Carrera constellation.

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