The wonderful thing about the Porsche 911 is that there's one for pretty much everyone. There's a 911 for someone who simply wants to pose in town (911 Carrera Cabriolet, manual gearbox, black interior, cheap as you can get), and there's one for the person who is always late (911 Turbo S). There's even one for the driver who wants to go very quickly in wobbly circles, but also wants to drive home (GT3 RS).
However, what about a car for someone who wants to look good, go quickly, and have fun on a track without having to compromise too much? That, my chums, is where the 911 GTS comes in. There are five GTS models from which to choose -- the rear-wheel drive Coupe, all-wheel-drive coupe, RWD convertible, AWD convertible, AWD Targa - each can be had with a manual gearbox, or a PDK dual-clutch, and each will top 186 mph at a minimum.
Want to go really fast? The RWD coupe with a manual will hit 194 mph. The fastest accelerating is the AWD coupe with a PDK -- a sprint to 62 mph takes just 3.6 seconds. 3.6 seconds for a car in the middle of the lineup.
All the GTS models get the 2017 911's 3.0-liter turbocharged engine, but with a few tweaks. There's 444 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque to play with. That's a phenomenal amount of power. To put it in to perspective, the previous generation 911 GTS, with its 3.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, pumped out 424 horses and 325 twist units. 62 mph took 4.4 seconds, as well. That said, it does have something the new turbocharged car doesn't: Noise.
Don't get me wrong: The new GTS sounds pretty incredible. Porsche's fitted a fancy exhaust to it, but the old engine, despite the fact it's got less power and WAY less torque, sounds better. The typical 911 howl is there, ready and waiting to be wrung out at high revs. The old motor was something you had to abuse to get the most from, the new one... isn't.
There's torque for all here, and it doesn't matter what gear you're in -- apply foot to loud pedal and you'll surge away. Porsche's PDK gearbox is present here, and, as usual, is immense. The response is instant, though the feel changes depending on which of the car's driving modes you're in. In Normal it's unobtrusive, Sport makes its more aggressive, and Sport Plus means it'll change lightning fast with a pleasing jerk, and it will hang on to gears as long as possible.
Throttle response and the suspension sharpen up with the drive modes as well, turning the GTS from a potent cruiser to mentalist in a matter of moments. The sweet spot is Sport: The springs aren't too tough, the 'box clings on for just long enough and the car feels pretty alive. Sport Plus is best reserved for super smooth track work. And speaking of track work...
I sampled two models on track, the first was the rear-wheel-drive 911 Carrera with a PDK . What a car it is. It felt light, responsive, glorious. The steering was smooth and fluid, while the balance of the car was wonderful. Head into a corner at pace, and the rear will let you know you're playing silly buggers with physics before giving you time to adjust, settle the car and catapult yourself away.
Its ceramic brakes were smooth and easy to use, as well. They coped easily with a couple of laps in the hands of an idiot . The RWD car is easily the highlight of the range. While I'd have liked to try it with a manual gearbox, the PDK remains suited to the current generation of 911.
The other car I tried was the Targa 4 GTS, the one with a roof that gets eaten by a robot. It's more visually arresting than the coupe, though not quite as pretty. There's another big difference -- it's all-wheel drive. Go in to the same corner as you would with the coupe at similar speeds, and it'll understeer a touch before settling. However, you can give it far more power out of the corner than the RWD car.
Faster, maybe, but just as fun? I'd be lying if I said yes. It's still stellar around the circuit, but the RWD car felt more alive, more... 911.
The GTS cars don't only come with more power, but lower springs, center-locking wheel hubs and Porsche's Sport Chrono upgrade as standard, so it's not just a trim level.
Taking the Targa on the road showed off what Porsche's done. The base cars can hardly be called slow or soft, but the extra edge Stuttgart has given it is evident. It's a phenomenal car in the real world, it really is. The steering is sweet, powertrain superb, gearbox fantastic. My test Targa didn't come with the optional ceramic brakes, and while the standard stoppers are fine with abuse on the road, the track left them rather warm and a little odoriferous. Cool down laps were required.
The interior and tech is standard Porsche 911. Buttons to control most things, though the touchscreen infotainment system does a cracking job. Apple CarPlay is available, so if you want to ignore Porsche's efforts altogether, you can.
Porsche purists have decried the decision to "go turbo," and to a point they're right. The all-important Porsche howl isn't as evident as it used to be, and you no longer have to rev the balls off it to get peak power -- both huge plus points of the old days.
That said, extra torque all over the power band, more power, and better fuel economy are all huge pluses. The GTS takes a normal 911 and makes a brilliant balance between posing and performance. The last one was the pick of its lineup, and the new one is, too. Goldilocks would love it.