First Drive: Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

The GTS comes as both a coupe and a cabriolet, but mechanically, the new 911 Speedster is a third variant. While it uses the same engine and wide body, it's distinguished by a chopped windshield, the signature bumpy rear deck lid, and even more standard equipment, along with a serious helping of leather inside. Oh, and a $204,000 price that reflects the limited production volume -- 356 cars globally -- of the Speedster.

Just as you'd expect, the GTS smudges the line between the street-going S and the racy GT3. With the sport exhaust activated, we're soon merrily drunk on the flat-six blat as we repeatedly chase after a sweet spot that has moved higher in the rev range. The three-spoke steering wheel is delightfully minimalistic, and the PDK dual-clutch automatic (at the absurd price of $4320) comes with genuine paddles, not fussy buttons, to summon gearchanges. And in typical 911 fashion, the steering and handling set the benchmark.

This isn't the 911 of yesteryear, though, which was capable of transforming into a coffin on wheels at the very sight of a 100-foot drop-off. The car is planted, stable, and predictable. Because of the broad rubber in back, the front end of the GTS is far more likely to wash out before the rear gives up grip. As we descend into Borrego Springs, the road becomes one constant turn, or at least a series of turns connected so closely that only small dabs of brake and throttle are needed between bends. We're smitten with the Carrera GTS, but we might be even more infatuated with these roads.

Our only grievance with the GTS is the obnoxious cacophony of road and engine noise that reverberates inside the coupe at highway speeds. That the GTS is so good isn't at all surprising. It is just one more opportunity to appreciate how well the 911 has aged. Save for the need to keep the showroom fresh, Porsche could continue selling these cars for a few more years without threat to its reputation

The Specs
PRICE: $104,050/$113,850 (coupe/convertible)
ENGINE: 3.8L flat-6, 408 hp, 310 lb-ft
DRIVE: Rear-wheel

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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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