Spotted in the Wild: Porsche 911 GTS

For those of you that follow Pistonheads.com this title will not be new to you.  How does an automotive enthusiast narrow down exactly which cars he or she wants to talk about on their website?  Simple, write what you see.

In its first Übercar appearance, the new Spotted in the Wild segment will feature a car that I have recently seen driving on the roads.  It allows me to delve into automotive research mode to learn more about these cars, and gives you a brief glimpse into the special cars that make up the übercar universe.

The Porsche 911.  You either love it or hate it.  There are two kinds of car people out there: those that believe the constant continuation of the 911 model line is akin to the re-printing of the bible, sacrilegious if anything is changed; and those that follow the rules of physics, who believe that hanging the engine out the arse end of a car is inefficient, and that the whole design should be scraped.  This then is a battle of religion vs. science.

Both sides put forth some good points.  The devout believers of the 911 mantra are usually owners, and think that all of their luggage should be stored where the engine is in most cars, and that rear seat access and comfort for their passengers should be limited.  The followers of Sir Isaac Newton know that a rear-engined car is inherently unstable, and more likely to oversteer when pushed hard in a corner.  Once the rear of a 911 has lost traction its more likely to spin as the weight at the back will act like the end of a Grandfather clock pendulum, and pivot around the driving wheels at the front.

Some of you might have noticed how these laws of physics may also be seen as a plus to an automotive enthusiast: oversteer is fun.  Nothing quite compares to the feeling of losing rear traction as you slide around a corner and then continuing to maintain that unstable combination by balancing the throttle to perform a perfect drift.  Actually accomplishing this is easier said than done, but it’s definitely on the easier side in a 911.

The first 911 was initially launched on September 11, 1963.  The model has evolved over the years and subsequent generations, and similar to the creation of a perfect diamond, the entire package is continuously refined and shaped to improve its overall appeal and, in this case, performance.  The 911 is constantly improved, but never drastically changed, and this is why the silhouette of the rear-wheel/rear-engined 911 has largely remained untouched for almost 50 years.  It’s truly an icon of the automotive landscape.

Recently, a “new” 911 generation was launched, and it brings with it a longer wheelbase, a lighter body, and newer technology, but all in a familiar package.  The car that we’ll be talking about today though is from the previous generation, known internally as the 997 Series.

During the 997’s seven year lifespan there were approximately 25 subsequent variants.  In any car car’s lifetime the more powerful and overall better derivatives of the model are produced closer to the end of its lifespan.  This is partially to increase sales and awareness before a new generation is released, and also to showcase new technological invocations that have been developed to improve the cars performance.  Based on this, it is said that the later derivatives of the 997 are generally considered to be some of the best 911s ever created.  Unfortunately for your average punter, these models were also primarily bloody expensive limited edition übercars (like the Speedster) or bloody expensive track focused weapons (thank you GT3 RS 4.0).  Either way it was going to hurt the wallet.  What enthusiasts wanted was a car that bridged the gap between outright performance and overall price, and the 2011 GTS was the one that best fit this mold.

The GTS is best described as the penultimate 911.  Limited edition specials (Sport Classic, GT2 RS) and track biased models (GT3) are not what the every-day 911 buyer will look at due to their exorbitant costs and lack of all-round ability.  The top of the “regular” model line is seen as either the Turbo or Turbo S.  Right below those two Germanic beasts sits the GTS: combining an affordable 911 in a motorsport inspired package, with all the best bits of the entire 997 range.

The GTS ups the game from the “basic” Carrera S by having 408bhp (an increase of 23bhp) and an identical torque figure of 420Nm that, due to some complicated Porsche-speak, arrives 200 rpm lower in the rev range for improved acceleration.  The GTS is also distinguished by center-mounted RS Spyder wheels and a unique front apron and sideskirts.  The most visual differentiation from lesser 911s is the area between the quad tailpipes that on the GTS is painted black, giving the impression of a large rear diffuser.

So far so good, but this really isn’t feeling special enough.  Forgot to mention that the body of the car isn’t from just any old plane-Jane 911, but is in fact identical to the one used on the four-wheel drive and motorsport based 911s.  This means that the GTS gets the same 44 millimeter wider body as found on the GT3 RS 4.0 and GT2 RS, which both cost over $100,000 more than a base GTS (as with every Porsche the “build your own” configurator is a dangerous place where vast sums of money can quickly be spent on carbon-fiber interiors and all the different Porsche acronyms that help with performance).

The GTS is the perfect 911 in that it gets the best from both ends of the Porsche spectrum: it’s a refined everyday device to travel to and from work, but it also hides a nastier side that allows the driver to exploit the laws of physics more often than usual.  To see one on the street is quite rare because, as would be expected, the cheaper 911s are the firm’s biggest sellers.  People who own a GTS are proper petrolheads, and could never be confused as brand snobs.  To own a GTS is to own one of the best 911s ever made, but then, they say that about every 911 variant that’s released.

If you’re a Porschephile (yes, this a real term used in the automotive world; and yes, it does remind me of pedophile, which isn’t good) than you know how special the GTS is as a melting pot of many great attributes: upper-echelon performance, moderate price, dynamic looks, and advanced technology.  But, if you believe that this is just a stretched beetle that has outlasted its welcome in our modern world than you’ll also think that it’s another attempt by Porsche to fill a niche and make a profit, which just isn’t true.  Any true car lover knows how special the entire 911 range is (except for the useless Targa 4), and the GTS is a prime example of Porsche punching Sir Newton square in the face and making a truly remarkable machine.  How can they improve on this . . .

To see a video of the GTS in action visit www.youtube.com/UBERC4R, and look in the playlist that shares the same name as this post.  You’ll also find two other Porsche videos, on is an introduction to the new 991 generation, while the other Engineered for Magic video showcases all that a Porsche can do.

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~ by ubercar on January 10, 2012.

One Response to “Spotted in the Wild: Porsche 911 GTS”

  1. Reblogged this on The Porsche Independent Repair.

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