Porsche's ultimate Carrera model is brilliant, and flexible.
The Porsche 911 range is more confusing than a Cheesecake Factory menu written in a foreign language; which is why we created a handy 911 guide to help our readers understand what each model is, and what makes it unique. Think of the 911 lineup like a pizza pie; each model variant represents a slice with a different topping. But as we learned driving the new 911 GTS, these slices can be cut even thinner.
CarBuzz traveled to Porsche's US headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia to sample two variants of the new 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera; the 911 GTS Coupe, and the 911 Targa 4 GTS. Though these models both say GTS on the back, they feel vastly different out on the road. Porsche offers so much customizability on the 911 Carrera GTS, it can be configured as a comfy GT car or a track-focused weapon. In fact, the GTS is so quick, we wonder why anyone needs a GT3 or a Turbo.
All 911 Carrera GTS models are powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six engine producing 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. That's 30 hp and 23 lb-ft of torque more than a Carrera S model courtesy of 18.6 psi of boost pressure (compared to 16 psi in the S). The naturally aspirated flat-six in the GT3 produces more power (502 hp), but less torque (346 lb-ft). Anyone who's ever driven a turbocharged 911 knows that the torque is more readily available, in this case hitting its peak from 2,300 to 5,000 rpm (compared to around 6,000 rpm in the GT3).
Put simply, the GTS is quicker than the GT3 in the real world, assuming you configure it correctly. Porsche says the quickest GT3 will hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds with the PDK transmission. If you opt for a Carrera 4 GTS Coupe with the PDK, you can hit 60 in 3.1 seconds, while a rear-drive GTS Coupe will match the GT3 at 3.2 seconds. If you don't care about 0-60 mph sprint times, the "slowest" GTS will still hit 60 mph in 4.1 seconds with the manual transmission. A GT3 will be faster on a race track, but if you plan to do most of your driving on the road, the GTS is a better overall performer thanks to that turbo torque.
It can't match the GT3's racecar-like handling, but the GTS is no slouch. It gets standard PASM dampers with a 10 millimeter ride height reduction compared to the standard Carrera S. Helping bring this car to a stop are the same massive brakes from the 911 Turbo, six-piston fixed calipers in front and four-piston fixed calipers in the rear. Buyers can opt for the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, which increase the rotor size and reduce unsprung weight by 50% compared to a steel brake. As standard, those massive stoppers live behind forged lightweight wheels from the 911 Turbo S with a center-lock pattern. More conventional five-lug wheels are available for those who'd like a less aggressive appearance.
The 911 GTS feels so quick out on the road, we hesitate to call it a sports car; it's closer to a supercar. In fact, this 992-generation GTS produces nearly the same power as the 997-gen 911 Turbo, with the same 0-60 mph time as the Turbo S from that generation. The 911 Carrera GTS has become so good lately, it almost feels unnecessary to upgrade to the bonkers Turbo model.
We love that Porsche offers this model in five distinct flavors: the Carrera GTS Coupe, Carrera 4 GTS Coupe, Carrera GTS Cabriolet, Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet, and Targa 4 GTS. Each offers a vastly different experience within this narrow sub-section of the 911 lineup. With three body styles and five model variants, the GTS casts a wider net than the coupe-only GT3 and the Turbo, available as either a coupe or cabriolet.
Drivers who want peak performance should opt for the coupe, while drivers who enjoy soaking up the sun are best served by the cabriolet. Then there's the Targa, which sits somewhere in the middle. Porsche only offers this model with AWD, since most Targa owners like to drive their cars year-round in cold climates. We think the Targa is the most attractive of the three styles, though it is the heaviest of the bunch. Having the freedom to choose from a partially open-top experience without losing the coupe-like styling is a tantalizing proposition. Wind buffeting is minimal on this model if you keep the windows rolled up, and there's even a handy wind-deflector that pops up from the windshield.
Driving the 911 GTS Coupe and the 911 Targa 4 GTS back-to-back, we could hardly believe both were the same model, let alone the same trim designation. Porsche optioned the Carmine Red GTS Coupe to be as enthusiast-focused as possible. Drivers who want the most track-capable GTS should order their car exactly like this one with the $5,900 Lightweight Package. This includes thinner glass, a lighter battery, less sound deadening material, a rear-seat delete, and fixed carbon fiber bucket racing seats. All of these changes save roughly 55 pounds, and make the GTS feel more like a road-legal race car. Fair warning, the 911 loses much of its comfortability in this configuration.
Whereas the Carmine Red Coupe felt like a hard-edged weapon, the Chalk Targa was more of a comfy missile. The suspension isn't as firm on the Targa 4 GTS, and the 18-way adjustable seats are much less confining. They don't hold you in nearly as well as the buckets, but we appreciate being able to recline the seatbacks. Overall, the Targa felt far more comfortable for daily use, but heavier and less agile when driven in anger.
No matter which 911 GTS you choose, Porsche offers either a seven-speed manual transmission or its legendary eight-speed PDK dual-clutch at no additional charge. The GTS model gets a slightly shorter shifter than a standard Carrera S, with rev-matching to nail the perfect downshift every time. As much as we loved the crisp shifter feel and friendly clutch, we found ourselves not having to shift much because the GTS has so much readily-available torque. You can leave the car in a higher gear, and still power out of corners without needing to downshift. As much as it pains us to say it, the PDK is better here.
The PDK works flawlessly in traffic, executing nearly imperceptible shifts. When it comes time to drive spiritedly, the PDK rips offs upshifts surgically. Porsche includes a Sport Response button that puts the PDK into maximum attack mode, enabling near-instant downshifts when you mash the throttle. Especially when trying to launch the car from a stop, the PDK shows its dominance, hitting 60 mph more than a half-second quicker than the manual car. We love manuals as much as the next enthusiast, but nothing beats PDK at this juncture.
The best part about the 911 Carrera GTS is that you can actually get one. Finding an allocation for a new GT3 will be next to impossible, unless you want to pay an extravagant dealer markup above the $161,100 base price or know someone who can get you on the order list. The 911 Turbo will likely be a bit easier to nab, but it carries a pretty hefty $174,300 base price. With options, it will easily surpass $200,000.
As for the Carrera GTS, the standard Coupe model starts at a slightly more reasonable $136,700, while the Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet and Targa 4 GTS are tied for the most expensive at $156,800 (plus $1,350 for delivery, processing, and handling). We must point out that the two cars we drove were well-optioned up to $178,440 for the Coupe, and $193,960 for the Targa. That's significantly more than a base GT3 or Turbo, but factoring in availability, options, and a dealer markup, the GTS is likely cheaper.
It's difficult to find any glaring weaknesses with a sports car like the 911, but we've got three issues that need mentioning in the name of a fair and impartial review. For starters, though the 3.0-liter flat-six engine delivers a pretty throaty roar from its standard sports exhaust, the presence of turbochargers slightly mutes the experience, giving the GTS a less-than-perfect sound. The Turbo delivers more satisfying cracks and burbles from its exhaust, while the naturally aspirated GT3 delivers the sweetest song in the 911 lineup.
Our other gripes are not relegated to the GTS, but the 911 generation as a whole. Porsche's iconic five-dial setup still looks great, but in the 992, it's impossible to see what's on the two outer gauges without moving your head. We tried adjusting the steering wheel in multiple positions, but it did not solve the issue. Finally, the 911 has grown pretty large in the past two generations. What was once a svelte sports car now feels more like a GT car in terms of sheer size. If you prefer the more chuckable go-kart experience, we think the mid-engined 718 Boxster and Cayman are stupendous, and cost way less than the 911.