Chris Woodyard previews the new Porsche Experience Center in Carson, Calif., where owners and prospective buyers can learn how to properly drive their cars.
The 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS isn’t the fastest, most powerful or most expensive member of the 911 family, but it just may be the sweet spot in the lineup.
Every 911 Carrera GTS starts its life as a Carrera S, the second step in the extension ladder of models that comprise the 911 family. This review refers to a 2017 Carrera GTS, but there are no significant changes to the model for 2018 save a small increase in price.
You can get a GTS in five flavors: rear- or all-wheel drive, coupe, convertible or targa. “Targa” is perhaps best described as German for T-top, but owners are not required to have mullets.
The 911 Carrera CTS’s 3-liter, bi-turbo, 6-cylinder engine produces 450 horsepower.
Porsche offered a GTS before, but the 2017 model was the first to offer turbochargers. The result is an extra 80 lb-ft of torque. The Corvette ZO6, Jaguar F-type SVR and Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S all have more power, but the GTS’ performance is competitive: a top speed of 192 miles per hour and 3.5-second acceleration time from zero to 60 mph.
The GTS is the lightest car in the group. That helps offset its power disadvantage, but its ace in the hole is the four-wheel steering system’s responsiveness.
The engine is immediately responsive, with a satisfying throttle note that can be embellished in by sport mode. The combination of bigger turbos and 2 pounds greater boost pressure delivers power smoothly while the DCT transmission snicks through the gears with effortless precision.
Like most new cars, my GTS had auto stop, which shuts the engine off to save fuel at traffic lights and when idling. It’s reasonably smooth, but the restart was slow enough that I found myself disabling it when I was in heavy traffic and wanted quick response from stop lights.
Porsche’s new optional rear steering is a revelation. The 911 Carrera GTS responds to steering inputs like an extension of your body. Suddenly, identifying the apex of a turn is as natural as putting one foot in front of the other. Except the result feels like moving with the seemingly effortless speed of Usain Bolt’s finest races.
The Carrera GTS theoretically has four seats — the rear pair are better suited to grocery bags than bipeds — but it competes primarily with two-seat sports cars such as the Corvette Z06, Jaguar F-type SVR and Mercedes AMG GT S coupe.
The interior is trimmed in Alcantara leather, with anodized and black aluminum trim. The center console buttons and dials make controlling audio, climate and performance systems simple, unlike the plethora of controls littering the interior of some advanced cars. A big touch screen, voice recognition and Apple CarPlay complement those controls, making it easy for the driver to concentrate on the fun of driving a GTS.
The Carrera GTS has the deceptively simple elegance of a design that has been refined continually for a half-century, since the first 911 debuted in 1963. Satin black center-locking 20-inch wheels are standard, along with sport design side mirrors and GTS logos on the doors.
To minimize weight and maximize profit — the only thing Porsche makes better than fast cars is cubic quantities of money — Porsche omitted a few features you might expect. Memory for the driver’s seat and mirror settings, for instance. And blind spot alert.
The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is a singularly elegant supercar. Its restrained approach to power and performance delivers all the fun and prestige most drivers will ever want without indulging in the megahorsepower war that obsesses some automakers.
You can spend more on a 911, much more for exotic sports cars, but you’re unlikely to find a car that’s more delightful to drive.
WHAT STANDS OUT
Steering: Even more responsive
2017 PORSCHE 911 CARRERA GTS
What? A 2-plus-2 sports car
Where? Made in Zuffenhausen, Germany
When? On sale now
What makes it go? A 3-liter, twin-turbo, 6-cylinder engine producing 450 horsepower, with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
How thirsty? Rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg overall
How big? 14.7 feet long
How much? Starts at $119,000 before destination charges and including a Powerkit that adds 30 horsepower