2018 Porsche 991.2 911 GTS review

2018 Porsche 991.2 911 GTS

Not very long ago the GTS was the Porsche variant we secretly frothed hardest over.

Feral rear-drive Panameras with naturally aspired V8s. Anti-social V8 Cayennes, or 911s unapologetically dripping in Alcantara and carbon fibre, sitting low and menacingly on perfectly-sized, fat wheels.

The GTS brand built its reputation on distilling the best and most desirable elements of a given Porsche car. And as far as want-factor went, in the 911 family, the GTS almost pipped the 911 GT3. Almost.

2018 Porsche 991.2 911 GTSIncreasingly, though, the downsizing trend has meant the GTS brand has had to hang its hat on aesthetics and styling, and even value, in order to maintain desirability, as the Cayenne GTS turns V6 and future Boxster, Cayman and Panamera GTSs are expected to have quite different personalities to their much-loved naturally-aspirated predecessors.

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The same is true for the 911. Much like the Carrera and Carrera S, the new turbocharged Porsche 991.2 GTS features a very 'new' personality compared to its predecessor.

Gone is the previous atmo 3.8-litre flat-six with that truly sonorous 7800rpm redline, replaced with a twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat-six. Power's up from 316kW to 331kW, torque 440Nm to 550Nm.

2018 Porsche 991.2 911 GTS frontUnsurprisingly, peak torque is now available from 2150rpm, previously 5750rpm. Redline is now 7200rpm, down from 7800rpm. The 991.2 GTS runs larger turbochargers than the Porsche Carrera S and slightly more boost (1.25 bar), for 22kW and 50Nm extra.

Meanwhile, inline with continued strong demand for new 911s, prices for the GTS have also gone up markedly, around $14,000 for the rear-drive PDK Coupe we tested (all-wheel drive Coupe pictured). Porsche would counter that you get more performance and standard equipment than the previous car.

Porsche 991.2 911 GTS rearAnd absolutely do you get more performance. What's been lost in revs and, as we'll later get to, noise, the new 911 GTS has gained in pace. A lot of pace.

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With PDK and launch control (Sport Chrono is standard on all GTS models) it does 0-100km/h in a faintly ridiculous 3.7sec — 0.3sec quicker than the atmo 991, and 0.2sec quicker than a 991.2 Carrera S.

The newfound speed is also part of a newfound personality — although this isn't a Carrera with a detuned 911 Turbo engine. Again, much like the Carrera S, with which the GTS shares most of its engine, power is delivered with the linearity and response of an atmo engine, pulling hard and strong all the way to redline, with the added benefit of huge, useable low-down and mid-range mumbo.

Porsche 991.2 911 GTS brandingIt's like they lopped 600rpm off the tacho and smoothed it out between 1500 and 5000rpm instead. What you get is a much more flexible engine, pulling hard with amazing traction from anywhere in the rev range.

The new lowdown torque, in combination with the new-for-991.2 PSM Sport half-off ESP, also gives the rear-drive GTS an addictive and delightful ability to rotate the car out of tight corners on the throttle.

In tight first- and second-gear hairpins, this car is much more fun and entertaining than its howling nat-atmo predecessor.

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Oh yeah, about that howling bit. Unlike the base 911s where, to soften the blow, you could reframe the atmo-to-turbo switch — and lost revs, lost noise, lost magic at redline — as a 'new personality', it's a little more difficult in the GTS, for anyone who ever experienced the 991, at least.

2018 Porsche 991.2 911 GTS rear driveWith reduced sound deadening the previous car was an aural sensory overload. A car you took your mates for a drive in and, prior to opening the taps for the first time, glanced across with a mischievous grin before knocking it down a few gears and promptly terminating any conversation.

It sounded so good, a spine-tingling flat-six howl filling crevasse of the interior, sounding better and better with every last rpm right to redline.

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Winding out the first three gears in the 991 GTS was a temptation too hard to resist.

And it was loud. Really loud. We needn't visit old notes to remember full throttle in the 991 GTS — it was something that burned itself into your memory.

2018 Porsche 991.2 911 GTS CentrelockThat has been largely lost with the 991.2 GTS. The noise is familiar — if you played the note of both 991 and 991.2 GTSs through some headphones at the same volume, most people would struggle to tell them apart. Porsche has done well to retain the distinctive flat-six note of its 911 engines despite turbocharging.

There's hissing now as you tap into the boost, and an interesting technical flavour to the note, particularly from outside the car, but it still sounds very naturally aspirated.

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Anybody whose first 911 GTS is a 991.2 will be very happy with the sound and will absolutely put the windows down in tunnels.

Anybody who experienced the 991 GTS will be glancing down to double check the active exhaust is on. There is less volume. And those mind-blowing final rpm of the 991 GTS are now just memories. The 991.2 GTS still sounds excellent, and satisfying, just without the top-end rush and quieter.

2018 Porsche 991.2 911 GTS side profileLike all 991.2 911s, the GTS is still an incredible sports car basically as close to driving perfection as any manufacturer has come. The driving position is perfect, particularly with the amazing, and gorgeous, fixed-back seats.

The steering is excellent, even despite electrical assistance. The brakes are strong, resilient and feel great; the PDK is smooth, responsive and faultless. It rides well despite 30-profile front and 35-profile rear tyres.

The damping is incredible. The 991.2 GTS just makes a mockery of the supposed compromise other manufacturers say is unavoidable. It's stable and calm in high-speed corners yet agile, alert and nimble in the slower speed stuff (owing partly to its optional all-wheel steering).

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This is a car that would feel equally satisfying, capable and fun in a motorkhana as it would around Phillip Island or on an autobahn. Pretty much no other car can match a 991.2 911 for this breadth of ability and talent.

2018 Porsche 991.2 911 GTS dashboardThat, of course, includes the GTS — perhaps the best-looking 991.2 911 so far released. The subtle GTS badges, sinister contrasting black exterior accents and 20-inch low-offset centrelock wheels that fit almost perfectly in those 44mm wider rear guards (shared with the all-wheel drive Carreras). The stance, on the 20mm adaptive damper-adjustable Sports Chassis, is perfect.

And of all the new turbocharged 911s, the GTS is the one with the looks that most closely match the insane performance of the new turbocharged 991.2. We don't lust after it quite like we did its predecessor, but the 991.2 GTS is a sublime sports car.

4.5 out of 5
2018 PORSCHE 991.2 911 GTS
Engine: 2981cc flat-six, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbocharged
Drivetrain: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear drive, mechanical limited slip differential
Power: 331kW at 6500rpm
Torque: 550Nm at 2150-5000rpm
Weight: 1470kg
0-100km/h: 3.7sec (PDK, claimed)
Top speed: 310km/h (claimed)
Price: $290,090 (PDK)

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