2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS First Drive Review: Ultimate Middleman

Porsche presently offers 21 available or imminently available variants of the 992-series 911, from the least expensive Carrera to the priciest Turbo S. It’s enough to confuse even avowed Porschephiles and to spur cynics to roll their eyes. This fast-food-like approach dishes out calories incrementally, a proven strategy to entice buyers of varying means and to squeeze every available cent from their accounts. But cynicism melts away when you drive the new 2022 porsche 911 Carrera GTS.

Regular or Medium Size?

The 2022 porsche 911 Carrera GTS is the 911 lineup’s middle child, but that’s no slight. Since the badge’s arrival as a fixture in the lineup a little more than a decade ago, Porsche has positioned the GTS between the Carrera S and GT3 (and Turbo) in performance and price. The simplest way to think of it is as a Carrera S with every must-have performance option, for less money than you pay by adding them à la carte. The kicker: Not all its hardware is available on lesser versions, making it wallet clickbait for Carrera shoppers who retch at the notion of not having their hands on the most capable offering, whether they need it or not.

Under the Decklid

In the past, Porsche offered an optional factory “power kit” for 911 Carreras, but not this time around with the 992. The 2022 porsche 911 Carrera GTS is therefore your only pass for accessing a version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six tuned up to 473 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Those figures are achieved via an approximately 14.5 percent increase in turbo boost pressure (the peak is now 18.3 psi), and they reflect improvements of 30 hp and 30 lb-ft compared to the Carrera S. Those numbers also bring the GTS’ output somewhere near the ballpark of the GT3’s 502 horses. The only actual engine-hardware upgrade, Porsche says, is a strengthened dual-mass flywheel to cope with the additional torque.

Speaking of torque: Because the GT3 uses a high-revving naturally aspirated engine, its 346 lb-ft is a long way from matching the GTS’ blower-assisted twisting power. Don’t get it—ahem—twisted, though. We recently timed the new GT3 from 0 to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. Porsche says the 2022 911 GTS with PDK dual-clutch transmission and launch control does the deed in 3.2, and the Carrera S in 3.3. We know from our testing experience that the company issues conservative acceleration numbers, so 3.0 seconds flat is probably on the table. This leaves the GTS still trailing the GT3, as expected, but it’s a long way from being a dehydrated pooch.

Classy Chassis

The new 911 Carrera GTS features PASM adaptive dampers, and the car rides 0.4 inch lower than the Carrera S thanks to its standard PASM Sport suspension. The setup comes from the 911 Turbo but with revised calibration to its active damping, and it carries different spring rates. Compared to a Carrera S, for example, the GTS’ rear springs are approximately 18 percent stiffer, and the rears are nearly 50 percent stiffer, Porsche says. The rear end also gets stability- and response-aiding helper springs in Carrera GTS and Carrera 4 GTS coupes and convertibles, whereas Targa 4 GTS models do not, due to low demand from Targa buyers. (Porsche says those customers tend to drive their cars year-round and in snowy conditions, with less need for such an aggressive suspension package.) There are five new GTS models in all—coupe, cabriolet, Carrera 4, Carrera 4 cabriolet, and Targa 4—that contribute to those 21 different 911 variants.

The brakes are upgraded, too, as the Carrera GTS receives the Turbo’s six-piston front-caliper/four-piston rear setup, and carbon-ceramics are optional. Rear-wheel steering is also among the extras. The car rides on lighter 911 Turbo S center-lock wheels measuring 20 inches up front and 21 inches at the rear, although the fronts are half an inch narrower than the Turbo S’. If you don’t like the idea of dealing with center-lock rims, Porsche offers five-lug designs as no-cost alternatives.

Our test car’s exterior matched its optional Carmine Red Interior package, which includes same-color deviated stitching and GTS logos on the seat headrests. Among the package’s other inclusions are carbon-fiber inlays in place of standard black brushed aluminum and color-matched seat belts. This GTS we drove also came with optional carbon-fiber full bucket seats plus the rear seat delete option, and it carried the zero-cost seven-speed manual gearbox. Porsche’s PDK twin-clutch eight-speed automatic is the standard transmission.

What’s It All Mean?

We drove the 2022 911 Carrera GTS for the better part of a day on Atlanta-area freeways and, more crucially, twisting and sweeping country roads. (The drive route included the small city of Helen, which is, appropriately for our trip, a replica of a Bavarian alpine village. Be sure to visit if you’re in the area.) As with the previous 991.2 GTS, the car makes a strong case as the best 911 for enthusiastic driving that doesn’t require full-bore GT3 levels of track-ready hardware and big aerodynamic downforce.

The seven-speed works through a mechanically locking differential; PDK cars use an electronic-locking diff and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus. A shift knob shortened by 0.4 inch is a difference compared to other manual 911s, but most important is the fact you can now defeat auto rev-matching during downshifts in any of the car’s drive mode settings. We’ve asked for this feature previously, and it finally arrives as part of a new Porsche Communication Management 6.0 system. The bad news: It won’t be available as a retrofit to previous 992 911s, as it requires a new control module as opposed to a simple software flash.

Roaring along with the standard Sport exhaust at full rumble on a hot summer day, it’s impossible on public roads to discover a corner, a straight, or a braking zone the 2022 911 Carrera GTS doesn’t dismiss as a nonevent. Blipping your own throttle for downshifts is massively satisfying, but not nearly as thrilling as the increased power, torque, braking, and grip. The driving experience is like that of the Carrera S—but way more of it. Front-end bite and response was one of the 992’s notably impressive characteristics when it launched, and it’s even more apparent on the new GTS.

Similarly, you pick up on the extra output immediately. It all adds up to a devastating mix of talents that allows you to dive frighteningly deep into turns on the brakes, followed by neck-bending corner transitions and cannonball shots out the other side. Our test car had the optional carbon-ceramic brakes that contribute another micron of driver confidence, but you’ll still be on another planet compared to most cars if you stick with the standard stoppers, which are less sensitive to initial pedal application. The new Lightweight package on the car we drove also helps; it cuts 55 pounds from the car’s curb weight by using thinner side and rear glass and by binning the rear seats and some sound-deadening material.

But It’s Not the Best 911?

No, not if your definition of “best” means outright quickest lap and acceleration time, which would be the GT3 and Turbo S, respectively. But for drivers seeking an exceptional daily all ’rounder with blitzkrieg performance, the Carrera GTS is the golden ticket. The formula yields an excellent soundtrack, satisfying power, and stunning handling that hoovers painted lines off your favorite challenging road. It’s a car with no discernible real-world weakness, and it will do a hell of a job during your track-day runs, as well.

If all of this sounds tasty but you prefer a more varied driving experience, we also sampled a Targa 4 GTS with the PDK and the bonus of open-top driving for warm weather and all-wheel drive for nastier conditions. It also performed remarkably, but be aware it carries almost 400 additional pounds, which slightly lessens its bleeding-edge limit capability. Want to split the difference? Plunk down for a cabriolet model, either rear- or all-wheel drive; the GTS wouldn’t be a proper modern 911 if Stuttgart offered it in anything but a smorgasbord of styles.

Porsche’s 2022 911 Carrera GTS models arrive in the U.S. early next year, with the Carrera GTS coupe starting at $138,050. We expect the market to justifiably eat it up.

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