From the sofa, the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS is nothing particularly mind-blowing.
That’s because on paper, or in the website configurator, the sports car sits in the middle of a pretty impressive number of 911 variants – there are currently over 20. It’s not the most fast, loudest or most track-focused of the bunch, but as a daily driver the totality of the joy it brings is far greater than the sum of its parts.
A few minutes after the nice folks at Porsche dropped the keys on me, I decided to take a quick spin around town. I thought I would be gone for 15 minutes. Two and a half hours later, my exploding inbox reminded me that I was losing my job and better get back to it.
It was the theme of the whole week when they lent me the GTS. I couldn’t wait for the next trip, and unlike other performance cars, I felt like I could take it anywhere without too much hassle. Whether it was picking up school, having a quick errand at the grocery store, or cruising down fun roads in horse country, I was constantly looking forward to getting behind the wheel.
The twin-turbocharged flat-six engine is the same as found in the Carrera S, but Porsche has upped the turbo by around 14%, resulting in 30 more horsepower, bringing output to 473bhp and 420 lb-ft. Slam the pedal to the floor and you can go from 0-60 in an advertised 3.1 seconds (perhaps a little modest from Stuttgart.)
When you dwell on it a bit, the engine sound has a remarkable personality for a turbocharged six-cylinder. It won’t cause hearing loss, but it will definitely give you a mild adrenaline-fueled tingle and announce your presence to everyone else on the road.
The GTS is available in all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive, and as a coupe, convertible or Targa with the option of Porsche’s eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission or a seven-speed manual, although the three pedals setup slows 0-60 time down to 3.9.
But power, as with any 911, is only part of the story here. Porsche has fitted the GTS with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) adaptive sports dampers as well as auxiliary springs and steel brakes (ceramics are available) found on the 911 Turbo. They also lowered the ride height by 10 millimeters on all models except the Targa. All of this, together with the optional rear-wheel steering, makes the GTS incredibly easy to drive and offers so much grip it’s hard to find the safe limit without taking it to a track. After each turn, my singular thought was, “I should have taken this faster.”
A family interior
Inside the GTS, almost everything is in the right place. Porsche has been making 911s since the mid-1960s, and each new model is an incremental step toward the impossibility of perfection.
The version I tested was fitted with flourishes of Race-Tex (Porsche’s name for microsuede) and a carefully restrained carbon fiber footprint. There are a few seat options on offer, including Comfort, Sport Seats Plus (that would be my choice, with 18-way adjustments) and Full Bucket Carbon Fiber, which requires the rear seats to be eliminated.
Of course, the back is not a comfortable place to be as an adult. But a child booster, and said child, will fit quite easily. The front trunk (aka the frunk) is big enough for about two bags of groceries and a gallon of milk, but if you put in a lot more you risk breaking the eggs. I also managed to fit a folding chair and a beach-sized backpack on a trip to watch baseball. All in all, that’s a pretty useful amount of storage for everyday errands, especially in the world of sports cars. Meanwhile, the infotainment system, accessible on the 10.9-inch touchscreen, is fast, intuitive and easy to use.
All in all, the cabin is a damn good place to hang out, whether you’re blitzing winding farm roads or just walking the boardwalk. My only issue with the 911 is that I found the steering wheel to be a bit thin in my hands, and it blocks the visibility of a pair of gauges, so you have to move your head slightly to get a reading of your fuel level. But with a combined EPA fuel rating of 19 mpg, the GTS isn’t as thirsty as some, so you don’t need to check it often.
A 911 for Goldilocks
Here’s what I’m supposed to say as an enthusiast: “The 911 GTS is a fabulous car, but I’d still rather have a GT3.”
Of course, a naturally aspirated flat-six that revs to 9,000 rpm is special. But at the risk of blowing up my credibility, I would like to save it (along with my back and my eardrums) for special occasions. In addition, the cold start of an engine that can howl at 110 decibels every morning may annoy your neighbors.
For frequent race track visitors, the 911 Turbo has almost 100 more horsepower and hits 60 horsepower much faster than the GTS. But a billion horsepower, while exhilarating on a closed circuit, is mostly too much for the real world.
But as a daily driver, the GTS is perfect. Buyers get extra horsepower and a sportier setup over more basic 911s without stepping into a full amateur race car – ensuring owners can have their Porsche and drive it too.
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