With the six-speed manual, as CNET's car came equipped, the 911 GTS proved very drivable in a variety of conditions, from the exciting mountains roads to stop-and-go traffic. This transmission shifts with easy precision, a European style that never feels too mechanical. The 911 GTS can optionally be had with Porsche's seven-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, its version of a double-clutch gearbox.
Despite its high horsepower, the efficient engine gets EPA fuel economy of 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. CNET's average came in under that range, at 17.5 mpg, but a significant amount of drive time was spent in Sport mode.
As one of the more ridiculous optional features of the 911 GTS, the Sports Exhaust System adds a button to the center stack with an icon that looks like a pair of sunglasses. Press it, and the exhaust note becomes more aggressive. Although from the confines of the somewhat insulated cabin, the song of the engine didn't seem to change appreciably.
Fast touch screen
Taking the 911 GTS a little farther from its core sporting roots is the Porsche Communications Management (PCM) option, which combines a whole suite of cabin tech. The system centers on a hard-drive-based navigation system, which shows its high-resolution maps in 2D or perspective views. The system's touch screen is responsive, making it easy to pan the map or enter destinations with the onscreen keyboard.
Under route guidance, the system will use traffic data to dynamically avoid jams. Voice prompts use text to speech, reading out street name to help with upcoming turns.
Surprisingly, voice command is a separate option from the PCM. Although not as important for navigation, it is nice to have for the Bluetooth phone system. Without it, you have to go through the touch screen, either accessing the downloaded contacts list or dialing a number directly, to place a call.
For audio sources, Porsche puts a connector for iPods and USB drives in the console. There is also an auxiliary input in that position, useful for Android phones, as the 911 GTS does not have Bluetooth streaming audio. The touch-screen menus for selecting music are very responsive and easy to understand. But after selecting music from a digital source, you then have to touch a Start Playback button. It would be simpler, and better for an automotive interface, to have playback start as soon as you select the music.
Bose did a masterful job with the 911 GTS audio system. Using 13 speakers in the small cabin, the sound quality is superb. The system reproduces music with exceptional crispness, letting you hear each instrument very clearly. Although well-balanced across the frequencies, you can get strong bass out of it, which, however, does not rattle the door panels.
Porsche offers the 911 Carrera GTS in four different forms: all-wheel drive mixed with cabriolet versions. But CNET's test car, a hard top rear-wheel-drive 911 GTS, felt the most true to form. Raw elements such as a glassless sunroof and metal transmission tunnel leant to the car's purist feel, even if there was a lot of technology lurking in suspension and engine. That technology lends significantly to the car's performance, making for incredibly nimble cornering.
The cabin electronics are solid enough, a necessary element in a car that pushes well over $100,000. The Bose audio system stands out as a high point, with better sound than we've ever heard from this company. The lack of Bluetooth streaming as an audio source is a miss on the part of Porsche, and it is just weird having voice command as its own option.
The Speed Yellow of CNET's car caused polarized reactions, but Porsche has established a unique place in automotive history with its 911 body style. The car is instantly recognizable as a Porsche.
|Model||2011 Porsche 911|
|Power train||Direct-injection 3.8-liter flat six-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission|
|EPA fuel economy||18 mpg city/25 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||17.5 mpg|
|Navigation||Hard-drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Optional|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single-CD|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||USB drive, auxiliary input, satellite radio|
|Audio system||Bose 13-speaker 385-watt surround-sound system|
|Driver aids||Rear park sensors, lap time chronometer, upshift indicator|
|Price as tested||$112,625|