Test Drive: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS car test drives reviews porsche luxury cars
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

I often joke that the 911 name refers to how many versions Porsche actually makes of it. When I compiled the 2012 Buyer’s Guide for this site, the final count was 16 – and that was before throwing in transmission and option choices. If you’re in the market for a 911, it’s hard to imagine not being able to find at least one that fits the bill.

The model range shakes up for 2012 with the introduction of the all-new 911, which for this year is restricted to the Carrera and Carrera S coupe and convertible. On all others, the “old” model carries through, including my tester, the Carrera GTS coupe. Mine was a 2011, but nothing changes for 2012.

Power-wise, the GTS slots between the Carrera S and the Turbo, using a 3.8-litre horizontally-opposed engine that spins out 408 horses and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. A seven-speed double-clutch automatic transmission is available, but I had the “purist” model with six-speed manual gearbox. Adding to my car’s $117,600 starting price was a pricey list of options, including a lowered sport chassis, heated seats, dynamic cornering lights, surround sound system, painted centre console and a Sport Chrono Package Plus, which wedged a chronometer into the top of the dash, for a total of $128,040 before freight and taxes. (There is also a GTS Cabriolet, which starts at $128,800.)

Test Drive: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS car test drives reviews porsche luxury cars
Test Drive: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS car test drives reviews porsche luxury cars
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS. Click image to enlarge

I love the Panamera, and the Cayenne deserves its popularity, but the 911 really is the quintessential Porsche. Although it’s rear-wheel drive, the GTS features a wider rear track and the flared fenders from the all-wheel models; combine that with the 20-millimetre drop to the sport chassis, and the car looks hunkered down on the road. Real 19-inch knock-off wheels borrowed from the RS Spyder, barely concealing red-painted calipers, complete the look.

The GTS straddles halfway between the street and the track, which is probably why I got so many admiring glances in it. While the Carrera S also uses a 3.8-litre, the GTS benefits from a special intake manifold design, modifications to the heads and a tweak to the engine’s electronics, which results in higher horsepower, a claimed clip of zero to 100 in 4.6 seconds, and a top speed of 306 km/h. I naturally didn’t try to play at the upper end of that scale, but the track part is accurate. Anyone who likes a smooth ride will not be happy with this car, but that’s the idea. It’s a rough, visceral driver’s machine, and that’s the great thing about it. It idles hard and it’s choppy over all but the smoothest pavement, but of course that rigidity is the key to its performance. It snaps around corners with a ballet dancer’s balance, and the steering wheel feels alive in your hands, constantly communicating what’s happening with the front tires. Throttle response is immediate, and the short-throw six-speed moves smoothly into each gear, once you learn exactly how much throttle you need to get away flawlessly in first. A button on the dash activates the nastier nature of the standard sport exhaust, producing a sound that rumbles delightfully but doesn’t drone, even at idle.