Malaga, Spain – Arguably the best corner on the private Ascari circuit is the first one. You’ve just straight-lined the tight, uphill right-left kink that ended the last lap and popped over the rise. Now it’s time to cut hard left. Stay off the apex curbing, give the 2015 Porsche 911 GTS Cabriolet its heading, and bury the gas.
Oh, mama, that’s fun.
It’s particularly so in a car like the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet, which is why we’re here lapping at Ascari. The German automaker has now filled out its lineup with GTS versions of all models except the 918 and Macan.
What does GTS mean? Specifically Gran Turismo Sport, a moniker harking back some 50 years. To meet the racing regs back then, Porsche created the fiberglass-bodied 904 Carrera GTS, which had to be street legal. It was. That move allowed race-prepped 904s to score an impressive 1-2 finish in the 1964 Targa Florio against a field including Shelby Cobras and Ferrari 250 GTOs. Class wins by 904s are legend.
Translated into 2015, GTS means the sportiest of each non-turbo Porsche model without getting into special versions such as the 911 GT3 or Cayman GT4. For instance, the ever-sportier hierarchy for 911s is Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera GTS.
Details vary by model, but the sports cars have Porsche’s PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), Sport Chrono with Sport Plus, the Sport Exhaust system, and a ride height that’s roughly four-tenths of an inch lower than non-GTS models.
There are the expected bits of added bodywork, detailing at the front and along the sills. Items such as the model designation, exhaust pipes, and headlight surrounds are finished in black, as are the radiator cover and wheels on the 911 GTS. You get the idea.
Ditto inside. The interior includes standard sport seats with the GTS logo. Alcantara is used as an accent and wrapped around the steering wheel.
We concentrated on the rear-wheel-drive model of the 2015 Porsche 911 GTS Cabriolet, though the GTS upgrade comes on 911 two- and all-wheel-drive coupes and cabrios, while the Targa is all-wheel-drive only.
The 2015 Porsche 911 GTS Cabriolet gets a version of Porsche’s 3.8-liter flat-six with 430 hp, hits 60 mph in 4.0 seconds equipped with the PDK (4.4 to 60 mph for the manual), and touches 188 mph in the PDK model. Add one tick for the manual. The added GTS power comes in part from a double-resonance intake system using a trio of flaps to route and reroute intake air for max effect. The best part is, from about 4,200 to the 7,500 rpm redline, the flat-six howls out back with a raspy resonance.
Oh, mama, again.
Transmissions in 911 GTS models have seven speeds, in either manual or PDK automatic flavors. Let’s start an argument, shall we? There’s no denying the manual is fun, with rapid rev-matching on downshifts. Still, with the PDK left in D, we found snapping off sub-100-millsecond shifts around Ascari to be the better experience.
Proof of PDK greatness came in a section on the track with two tight, 90-degree lefts in quick succession followed by a long straight. You’re in Sport Plus mode with its more aggressive brake and throttle action, so the PDK makes certain you never leave the power sweet spots. No need to think about shifting. You just drive. Denying PDK is like a professional photographer denying digital cameras.
Bring on the emails.
Also able to concentrate more on driving, it’s no surprise to find the 911 GTS turning in smartly, brakes secure in their feedback. Balance is so even fore-aft, it makes us question if the engine is really hung out back. All 911 GTS models come with the wider all-wheel-drive body, but they somehow feel even broader in back thanks to that sense of stability.
We also drove the GTS versions of the Boxster, Cayman, and Panamera. The Boxster packs 330 hp and the Cayman 340 hp (both are equipped with uprated versions of the 3.4-liter flat-six). The Panamera uses a 440-hp, 4.3-liter V-8.
Where the 911-based GTS has a solid, broad-hipped feeling when rushed around the Ascari track, the Boxster and Cayman felt more … hmm … frisky. A 90-degree corner will tempt either car to wag its tail, though the electronic nannies will quickly intercept and tame these actions. While once upon a time you might have needed another corner to settle things down, these days you simply stomp your foot down on the gas immediately. Some drivers might find this tail wagging a bit off-putting; others will love it.
As for the all-wheel-drive Panamera GTS, there’s no friskiness, but more a sense that you’re driving a NASCAR Porsche. The thrum of the V-8 doesn’t hurt one bit and the platform’s width means the car feels well-planted. It’s not as quick as the sports cars but fun in a skis-versus-snowboard sense.
You can order a 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet with the manual transmission for $127,095 (PDK versions start at $131,935), up from the Carrera Cabrio’s $97,195 and the softtop Carrera S at $111,795 (with manual transmission and including destination). Porsche isn’t shy with its options list. Checking boxes on the extras brought us a GTS tab of $157,070 even without the Burmester sound system ($5,290) or the ceramic composite brakes ($8,520).
Want to have fun? Click here to play around with the 911 GTS Cabrio’s configurator. Hey, it’s only money…
2015 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet (with PDK) Specifications
- On Sale: Now
- Base Price: $131,935
- Engine: 3.8L DOHC 24-valve flat-six/430 hp @ 7,500 rpm, 325 lb-ft @ 5,750 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
- Layout: 2-door, 4-passenger, rear-engine, RWD convertible
- EPA Mileage: 19/26 mpg city/hwy
- L x W x H: 177.5 x 72.9 x 50.9 in
- Wheelbase: 96.5 in
- Weight: 3,340 lb
- 0-60 mph: 4.0 sec
- Top Speed: 188 mph