First Drive: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

Inattentive and on his cell phone, the cop couldn't be certain that I was breaking any laws. But then, a droptop Porsche on these roads is always just moments away from an ostentatious display of poise either in speed or in cornering grip. He knew well enough that if he wasn't going to pull me over, he must, at the very least, wag a finger. And so he did.

Such a limp-wristed reprimand, of course, has the opposite effect from what was intended. It's cause for laughter, not conscience or shame. Emboldened with a feeling of good fortune and a slight sense of invincibility, it is a license to attack the winding, glasslike tarmac of the desert valley with Porsche's latest iteration of the iconic, always-enchanting 911, the Carrera GTS.

Yes, another 911. As the 997-series nears the end of its life cycle, Porsche continues to cut the 911 pie into thinner and thinner slices. But no matter how many variants Porsche builds (there are now twenty distinct 911 models), the pecking order is always clearly defined, and this particular piece slots into the $25,200 gap between the Carrera S and the GT3.

Power output from the GTS also fits between those two models, with the normally aspirated, 3.8-liter flat-six making 408 hp, or 23 hp more than the Carrera S. The additional power, though, only arrives north of 6200 rpm, when six flaps in the GTS-specific variable intake manifolds open a second set of runners. You'll hear the resonant shift in volume that occurs at the transition more than you'll discern any difference in motivation between the S and the GTS. Equipped with the Sport Chrono Pluspackage and a dual-clutch automatic transmission, a GTS needs only 4.0 seconds to leap from a standstill to 60 mph, 0.1 second quicker than a similarly optioned S. Torque is unchanged at 310 lb-ft, but the shorter primary runners smooth the curve between 3000 and 4000 rpm, and the peak arrives 200 rpm earlier, at 4200 rpm.

The GTS's other distinguishing attribute is the wide-body rear, which typically has been reserved for all-wheel-drive 911s. Wider 305-millimeter tires tuck under a body that grows 1.0 inch, and the rear track stretches by 1.3 inches. There's also a new lower front fascia, side skirts borrowed from the GT2, and nineteen-inch center-lock wheels painted black. Porsche's sport exhaust and active suspension are standard equipment. Inside, Alcantara graces the shift knob, the handbrake, the seats, the headliner, and the steering wheel. In all, Porsche claims that the GTS hangs $15,495 worth of equipment on a Carrera S, but the actual sticker price of $104,050 comes in $12,600 higher than the S. The Sport Chrono Plus package, carbon-ceramic brakes, and rear seats in the coupe are optional.

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That the 911 rework has aged as well as it has should be no surprise. It was a well-executed (if a little bland) redo that only has 14 years on it through the 996 and 997 generations, which in Porsche lifespan terms is hardly anything.I just wish that Zuffenhausen had decided to make the Speedster more like the 356-based namesake that started it all instead of the pampered garage queen strategy that they ultimately decided to choose. Reeks of Volkswagen, if you ask me.

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