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HomeON THE COVERUNTAMING THE GT

UNTAMING THE GT

PORSCHE 911 GTS |

Few automakers produce cars with the dedicated specificity of Porsche. For the better part of six decades, this tech-luxury brand has honed the abilities of its flagship Neunelfer range with the devotion of a skilled winemaker. Their ardour pays particularly valuable dividends in the Grand Turismo Sport, proving yet again that slow and steady wins the race.

Is a Porsche 911 a supercar? The answer to that question depends partly on the textbook explanation of what separates a sports car from a supercar but should also include such nuances as model differences and being fit for purpose. To me, the Neunelfer finds itself somewhere in-between. Based on a performance requirement, the 911 Turbo S is undoubtedly a supercar (zero to 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds). The entry-level 911 Carrera manages 4.2 seconds in the same run, tagging it as a classic sports car.

GRAND TURISMO SPORT

Porsche seems somewhat unconcerned with the debate, opting, instead, to focus on incrementally improving the 911 as a super sports car with a penchant for everyday usability. They have been following the same formula for 57 years, steadily refining it as they go.

Most recently, Porsche introduced the refreshed 911 GTS range, and **Driven** took a handful of different iterations for a spin around the Winelands.

In some ways, the GTS – or Gran Turismo Sport – is the middle child of the 911 series that, as it is positioned above the 911 Carrera S, is the sportiest of the Carrera and Targa models. Above it, the GT3 and GT2, and Turbo S models complete the line-up. 

For the 2021 model, the GTS gets a custom trim package that, on the exterior, includes Sport Design front spoiler lip and front apron showing off black accents and tinted LED headlights with Porsche’s Dynamic Light System Plus. Its 20″ (optional 21″) light-alloy wheels are borrowed from the Turbo S and are also painted black. Black accents also appear in key spots on the car’s rear, including the rear lid grille slats, the ‘Porsche’ lettering and model designation, and the rear apron and sports exhaust system.

On the dynamic side, the GTS is blessed with a 10 mm lower ground clearance, thanks to the inclusion of Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system. It also inherits the 911 Turbo S braking system. Although not tested on the day, Coupé models are available with an optional Lightweight Package that sees (among other things) the rear seats and floor mats removed to decrease the car’s weight by a substantial 25 kg. Considering that the GTS Coupé is already 50 kg lighter than the previous car, the combined weight reduction would transform the GTS Coupé into a performance powerhouse. 

The Lightweight Package is, however, more than a trim-down in the cabin. Rear and side windows are made from lightweight glass, and carbon fibre buckets replace the front seats. A lightweight battery makes its appearance, as do unique, aero-optimised under-car panels and a rear-axle steering system. 

The upgrades continue unabashed inside the cabin, with the headline improvement coming in the form of a new 10.9” full-HD infotainment display (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). The system is magnificently intuitive, and so typically Porsche.

To separate it from other 911s, the GTS boasts a brushed aluminium interior package in black, with four-way adjustable sports seats with GTS stitching on the headrests. As standard, the GTS interior package comes in Carmine Red, although a Crayon version with Race-Tex features can be optioned. That will see a Race-Tex seat centre, steering wheel rim, armrests, and gearshift lever added to the list.

THE REFINED ROCKETSHIP

I mentioned before that the GTS finds itself somewhere between being a supercar and a sports car. Powered as it is by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre boxer six-cylinder engine (Producing 353 kW and 700 Nm), expect to while away between 3.3 and 3.6 seconds (with Sport Chrono package and model dependent) as the GTS effortlessly blasts from standstill to 100 km/h. It will see a top end of 311 km/h.

If you’re wondering what is meant by model-dependent acceleration… The GTS is available as rear-wheel-driven (Coupé and Cabriolet) or all-wheel-drive (Coupé, Cabriolet, and Targa). Despite the additional weight of the all-wheel system, the latter lays down significantly more traction, allowing for an improved sprint time. As with all Porsches sold in South Africa, eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox is standard, although customers may specify a seven-speed manual option instead. My advice – always go for the PDK; it is the best dual-clutch in the business and shifts quicker than any regular driver will ever be able to themselves.

ALL THE GO, NONE OF THE RAGE

The GTS is a sublime road car. Slightly stiffer than the Carrera S, but much quicker. In many ways, it is the golden thread that runs through the 911 series, as it channels the spirit of the original 1963 904 Carrera GTS.

On the (mostly) well-maintained roads around the Cape Winelands, I found the GTS forgiving enough to give it a pass on the more rigid suspension. We also drove the cars with the tyres inflated to racing pressures, adding a layer of edginess that would not be there at normal operating pressures. 

Accelerating to illegal speeds is nothing in this car, and it will cruise effortlessly at 200 km/h without breaching the 2,500 r/min mark. While I enjoy that the GTS will run at this speed (and more) without making you feel anywhere near uncomfortable, you need to be constantly aware of its voracious appetite for devouring the asphalt and adjust your attitude accordingly.

Thanks to the powerful brakes it borrowed from the Turbo S, the GTS has stand-out stopping power, and with a complete list of safety systems on-board – including ABS and traction- and stability control – is one of the most reassuring super sports cars I have driven. Should you run out of talent or road at any point, there are also six airbags dotted around the GTS cabin.

LAST WORD

The GTS represents the 911 ideal in an excellent way. Set it up properly, and it delivers on every expectation of exhilaration you may have. Then, tone it down, and the GTS transforms into a gentlemanly grand tourer that will have you look forward to every trip, whether it be to the boardroom or Mpumalanga for the weekend. I’d probably have it over the Turbo S for its ease of use and drama-free liveability.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © PORSCHE SOUTH AFRICA

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