Why on earth did you click on this review? Everything you need to know about it, you probably already know. It’s a brand new Porsche 911, so of course it’s Good with a capital G. Yes, it has great steering, the handling is impeccable, the braking will shatter your perception of time/speed/distance all at once, and of course a day of driving it will cause it to burrow into the back of your brain to sit there, taunting you forever about how anything else you drive will never hold a candle to it.
Does it matter that this is the GTS with a 7-speed manual transmission and the new ‘lightweight package’ and it’s maybe the best new 911 I’ve ever driven? Probably not, but you already invested your click so you might as well read on.
(Full Disclosure: Porsche invited me to Atlanta to drive its new 911 GTS. Porsche paid for my travel, put me up in a nice hotel and fed me nice food.)
For a bit over a decade Porsche has used the GTS name to denote the top of the “regular” Carrera line. It’s not a GT3 and it’s not a Turbo, obviously, but it’s between those special models and a Carrera S. Basically Porsche takes a Carrera S and piles on a bunch of sporty stuff like 30 extra horsepower, 10mm lower sport suspension, larger brakes from the 911 Turbo, center lock wheels, and an electronically locking rear differential as standard. Porsche also removes a bit of sound deadening material to drop a few pounds and up the dynamic decibels. That all makes for a pretty potent combination.
Once that has all been added on, Porsche differentiates the GTS from its S siblings with unique exterior and interior aesthetic accouterments. First, the Sport Design aero package is made standard, then the light housings, exhaust tips, and badging are blacked out. Inside you get seats, door handles, shifter, and steering wheel trimmed in faux suede, which Porsche calls Race-Tex. There’s a special GTS Interior Package which decks out the inside of the car in either Carmine Red (the righteous choice) or Chalk (the boring choice).
The Carrera GTS is still powered by the same 3-liter twin-turbocharged flat six engine as the Carrera S. In GTS guise, however, both power and torque are up 30 units, now making 473 horses and 420 lb-ft. This new engine makes its extra power with more aggressive camshaft profiles, higher pressure piezo fuel injectors, and an advanced tune. That’s nearly GT3 power levels, but peak torque and power are both delivered much lower, and the engine hits redline at 7,000 RPM rather than 9,000 in the GT3. This just means more useful power on the road, and you don’t have to wring the car’s neck to extract speed from it.
If what you really want is a GT3, but you can’t stomach the price hike, the bonkers dealer markups, or the tracky suspension, then the GTS offers everything you need. All you have to do is tick the “lightweight package” option box.
The car I tested was fitted with this kit, and it certainly makes the car feel much more aggressive. Only available on coupe models, the lightweight kit includes a pair of carbon bucket seats, lightweight glass all around, removed rear seats, further reduction in sound deadening, and a lightweight battery. The removal of the rear floor mats alone is worth a little over a pound and a half. You also get rear steer, and “improved aero” to add back a few of those removed pounds. In total the package drops 55 pounds over standard. Sure this package costs $8,690, but you’re buying a 911. What’s money? Does it matter?
People in this industry often like to say that you can feel the historical lineage of the newest 911s every time you get behind the wheel, or some other such garbage. Hell, I’ve probably parroted that line about a 997 or something way back when, but it’s total malarkey. There is nothing about the driving experience of a 2022 Porsche that is even vaguely reminiscent of anything the company built in the sixties, seventies, eighties, or even nineties. That’s not to say it isn’t still great in its own way, or that Porsche hasn’t built on decades of experience building some of the best sports cars in the world. But this car isn’t like an old 911 in any really meaningful way.
This particular example that I tested is a Carmine Red rear-wheel drive Carrera GTS coupe with the GT Interior Package, the Lightweight Package, a manual transmission, and carbon ceramic brakes. This is as focused and sporty as the 911 can get while still ostensibly being fit for daily driver status.
The carbon fiber bucket seats are, in a word, aggressive. Porsche planned the day to run from headquarters in Atlanta near Hartsfield-Jackson airport up north into the mountains far outside of the city. This required over an hour of transit on dense interstate to get to the ‘fun’ roads, and it’s pretty evident that my ass is a bit too wide for the intended audience for these seats. The lightweight package is available with the standard 18-way adjustable sport seats, which fit me much better, but then you’re adding back over 21 pounds. That’s the perfect spec for me, because the carbon buckets had my clutch leg falling asleep 45 minutes into the drive. If you have a waist smaller than, say 32 inches, definitely opt for the carbon buckets.
Once we got up into the mountains and the lateral G-forces increased, I found myself less worried about fitting into the seats and more focused on the task at hand. The 992-generation 911 is a really big car, but with rear steer, big sticky tires, and 475 damn horsepower, it manages to bend time and space around itself to feel much smaller than it is. It plays hop scotch on the delineation between sports car and grand tourer, but in this guise, on these roads, it plants itself firmly in the former camp.
The reality of this car is that it offers no surprises. Pretty much everything you think you know about the 911 GTS is true. It’s fast. Too fast for the street, really. According to the car’s onboard g-force meter, I managed to get 1.14 g in acceleration, 1.35 g under braking, and as high as 1.4 g lateral. It wasn’t all that long ago that race cars were struggling to pull those kinds of numbers. It’s truly bonkers for a street car, bordering on irresponsible.
All of that said, I couldn’t get enough of barreling this car into a corner, cranking on more and more steering until the tires started to bark their displeasure, then feeding in low-RPM throttle until the boost hauled me up and out of the corner. Keeping this car in too-high a gear and running it like a traditional momentum car, pushing through the corners and waiting for power on exit, is the most fun way to drive it.
It’s an intoxicating feeling, but with this level of grip and chassis, it often happens at unlawful speeds. I didn’t really want to be going that fast, but found the car just egged me on. It’s just so mind-numbingly boring at slow speeds, and the car is so capable that to feel anything you have to break the law. I don’t love that. Honestly, this car would be way rad with like 200 fewer horsepower.
Speaking of things I didn’t love... This really pains me to say this, but this car isn’t really suited to a manual transmission. This isn’t to say that I like the PDK transmission better, because I definitely don’t, but there’s really not much point to a manual when you only really have to shift when you take off from a stop. With this big-power turbocharged torque monster of an engine sitting back behind the rear axle, there isn’t much need to downshift as you slow down. The powerband is so wide, you just kind of let it float in 4th or whatever.
It’s a really good manual, though, with solid shift action. You just don’t end up shifting it much.
- Honestly, in today’s Porsche dealership, this is about as close to the best spec you can buy. Obviously I’d get the more daily-usable seats, and I’d probably go for the Shark Blue exterior paint because I’m a sucker for bright colors on sports cars, but otherwise it’s really really good as-is.
- Once the car and I found the fun roads, we clicked and flowed together in ways you can really only experience in a Porsche. The moving parts all feel great, from the steering wheel to the shifter to the pedals, you always know what’s happening with the car. The feedback is excellent.
- 1.4 lateral G from a street car on street tires without much in the way of downforce is next-level bonkers. I remember when semi-slick almost-racing tires were touting the fact that they could hit 1 G. There was a time when I felt like I’d never get to experience this level of grip. When in search of speed, my choice will always be grip over power.
- Seats aside, comfort in the car was excellent. There is plenty of elbow and shoulder room to work with, and everything is within easy reach.
- Visibility is uncharacteristically excellent for a sports car built in 2021.
- The Race-Tex rules. The sound is pretty great. The removed sound deadening and deleted rear seats really livens the car up. Standard CarPlay is clutch.
- This car would rule as a weekend trackday machine, but could easily be pressed into the occasional commuter duty. It definitely won’t baby in this spec, however, without rear seats.
- I love maintaining speed through a corner much more than building it on the accelerator. Anyone can build a dragster, but it takes a deft touch like Porsche’s to build a proper corner carving chassis. Too much power, like say 475 horsepower for example, only serves to hide the brilliance of the car’s road holding ability.
- It’s a whole lot of money. As-tested, this car exceeds $178,000, which is just plain too much money to spend on a car. Any car. Ever. That’s solid house money in a lot of parts of this country.
- Seven speeds is just too many speeds. The centerline of the shift pattern is between 3/4 an 5/6, so instead of letting the shifter fall to center and going straight up into third, like you would in a traditional 5 or 6 speed, you have to jog left and up to hit third or right and up to hit fifth, making for awkward searching in casual driving. If things are getting aggressive, it’s less difficult to find the next gear, but I still found it unnatural. In fairness, I have felt this way since the 7-speed launched ten years ago, but it still bothers me.
- I’d like to see the gears set a little closer together, but then you’re up against emissions and fuel economy standards, I’m sure. I found 7th to be pretty much useless, and I really wish it’d been a close-ratio five-speed with a tall sixth.
- The placement of the cup holder in the center console is totally asinine. It sits directly between the armrest and the shifter, meaning you absolutely can’t make a comfortable gearchange with a tumbler or bottle in there. It works okay with a 12 ounce can, which Germans being Germans, I’m sure is what they designed it for, but if the item is any taller than that, it’s impossible to deal with.
- The faux-suede rules, BUT the steering wheel in particular is probably going to look like shit in a few years.
- The sound of the car is great, UNLESS you’re driving for an hour or so on urban interstates. The road noise is quite fatiguing after a while. If you plan to do a lot of long-distance driving in this car, maybe opt for a set of earplugs.
- No adaptive cruise control with a manual.
With a starting price of $136,700, this is already an expensive car. As-tested, this car was fitted with a ton of options. The Carmine Red exterior paint cost $3,270. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control was another $3,170. Ceramic Brakes are just shy of ten grand. Lane keep assist is twelve hundred. GTS Interior pack, lightweight pack, LED headlights, Bose stereo, that’s another twenty grand. After delivery, this car cost a whopping $178,440. Woof.
In theory you can get a GT3 for that kind of money. It allegedly starts at $161,100. That said, a friend of mine recently told me that his dealer was requesting a $100,000 market adjustment on new GT3 orders, so in practice it seems far less likely you’ll even come close to a GT3 for high-spec GTS money. And depending on the kind of driving you do, the GTS is probably the better car.
And on the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of pieces of this GTS pie that you simply can’t get on a Carrera or Carrera S, so if you absolutely must have the top-spec I guess you’ll have to shell out for it. Given my druthers, I’d much rather have the lightweight package applied to a base model Carrera, as it has 379 horsepower rather than the 475 of the GTS, and as Kanye West once said, no one man should have all that power.
As I alluded to before, this is probably the best gasoline-powered car Porsche builds right now. If you don’t mind driving a really fast car well below the speeds it begs to be driven at, and you can stomach spending Liberia’s deficit on a car, by all means do it. Honestly, having one of these in the garage next to a base RWD Taycan is maybe the best two-car solution I can think of right now.