911 Carrera GTS: Porsche's race relations
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911 GTS can from the daily commute, straight to the track
Not every Kiwi can be as successful as Porsche drivers Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley, as they proved at Le Mans at the weekend. But we now have more opportunities to drive vehicles that are track-able.
Porsche has expanded its 911 Carrera line-up with five models in the GTS range, including rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive versions, coupe, cabriolet and a Targa version.
The GTS is the step-up 911 model that can go from the daily commute to the racetrack, though probably not Le Mans.
To celebrate Earl and Brendon's phenomenal success, Porsche New Zealand helped Driven put together a show of strength for the brand; the 919 Hybrid replica and the track-able 911 Carrera GTS.
We also scored first Kiwi drive of the GTS that Porsche says is the next step between a 911 Carrera to the track-built GT3.
While the GT3 produces 368kW of power, the GTS isn't shabby with 331kW of power at 6500rpm.
All GTS models have the new 3.0-litre, six cylinder turbo-charged engine that has 550Nm of torque.
It also has 22kW more power than the 911 Carrera S, and 15kW more power than the previous GTS model that had a naturally aspirated engine.
All variants come standard with the manual seven-speed gearbox or optional Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) auto transmission.
The GTS range starts at $257,400 for the manual rear-wheel drive or $270,600 for the all-wheel drive version, while the PDK is $264,600 and $277,800 respectively.
The five new 911 GTS models are now on sale in New Zealand with first deliveries expected soon.
The GTS stands out due to its visual appeal with a more retro look. All the cars are based on the wide all-wheel drive body, that measures 1852mm wide even on the rear-wheel drive models.
It also has a fold-out spoiler if you want a sportier appeal; but I preferred it down.
Our model was specced up to $283,250 as it had lane-keep assist, electric sunroof (always tick that box), and adaptive sport seat plus.
We also had the PDK gearbox. Unless you are a manual purist, then you can't go past this transmission. It moves through the gears more smoothly than you can ever expect to do.
The 911 GTS has sport, sport+ and individual modes plus standard comfort, selected using a dial on the steering wheel.
Sport mode saw the revs and gear ratios held longer, with it sitting at just over 100km/h in fifth gear.
What also makes the GTS stand out audibly is the centrally mounted sports exhaust system, capable of emitting and amplifying an impressive range of engine noises.
It's not as ruckus as the GT3 on the road, but it's quick to remind you that there is a reason it has the three extra letters over the standard 911 Carrera line-up.
The twin-turbo engine is so quick to respond that it's virtually impossible to tell that you're not in a naturally aspirated car.
The GTS also holds the road with unmatched talent; its power on the bitumen and the road handling at speed on corners gives you one of the most rewarding and effortless drives.
You can easily forget that it's a high performance sports car, but dial in sport and head to an open road and you get a ride that is so self-assured that it makes a better driver of you.
The seats provide a good upright position and are ideal for long drives, plus they hold you in place on winding roads.
During one particularly wet segment of road, where I had to nip down the gears as I went uphill around a tight bend, I felt it wasn't as easy-footed as it could be, so the all-wheel-drive GTS may be better for out-of-towners.
But it's a great daily driver. The two rear seats are suitable only for young kids (although access to the back is clumsy), but it is more user friendly than a Porsche Boxster as you can store bags etc in the back seats.
It also looks stunning from the outside, and is a car that will hold its price.
On the downside, after driving the new Panamera, is the dated cockpit. But you can expect to see more touchscreens and less dials in upcoming 911 models.
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
Engine: 3.0-litre, six cylinder twin-turbo engine
Pro: Daily drive, track ready
Con: Out of my price range