2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
From out of nowhere
The amusing thing is, we didn't plan to invite the 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS to this year's edition of All-Stars. We wanted the latest GT3 and believed we had it locked in. But a ripple in Porsche's test-vehicle pool meant the car originally earmarked for our evaluation was sent packing back to the mother ship in Germany, leaving us empty-handed.
"But wait," Porsche Cars North America inquired. "Would you like us to send the new GTS?" We looked at each other for a brief moment, huddled together, and reviewed this 911's case for attending. We remembered how we laughed last year when we realized this 450-horsepower, turbocharged, rear-drive Carrera is much faster than the turbocharged, rear-drive 993 GT2 of the 1990s, a car that collectors have recently paid millions for. We considered the fact Porsche positions the GTS between the standard Carrera and the "real" 911 Turbo without being as hard-edged as the GT3. "You know," one of our staffers whispered, "this might be the best 911 Porsche builds right now. Possibly?" Hmmmm. So we picked up the phone and dialed PCNA in Atlanta. "About that GTS … "
Another funny thing: Halfway through our All-Stars program, you would have thought no one was paying attention to this white coupe. The GTS uses larger turbochargers and a little more boost than the Carrera S, giving it an additional 30 horsepower and 37 lb-ft of torque in comparison. It comes standard with Sport Chrono and the different drive settings the package includes. Dual-clutch-equipped versions such as this one also feature Porsche's Sport Response "push-to-pass" instant-power button on the steering wheel. Then there is a sport exhaust combined with less sound deadening to turn up the volume, plus those cool center-lock wheels. Not to mention a lower sport suspension setup (optional on Carrera S) and the mean-looking wide-body shell everyone loves on the Carrera 4; this and the GT3 are the only rear-drive 911s to receive it. Additionally, this test car came well-equipped to the fight, carrying both the optional carbon-ceramic brake and rear-wheel-steering packages, as well as Porsche's active anti-roll bar setup.
Yet for the first day or two, little was said about the GTS as our drivers ran it up and down Mount Charleston. The same proved true at Speedvegas. For some bizarre, unspoken reason, our drivers appeared to have struck a deal to keep whatever excellence they found in the GTS to themselves. Yet when the final discussions and voting for this year's All-Stars began, the floodgate of positivity burst open.
"This car cannot be faulted and may in fact be the best-value, all-around street-oriented 911 sports car option," pro racer Andy Pilgrim declared. "Sick brakes, too." OK, no one ever rolls up to another car at a stoplight, looks over, and challenges, "I bet I can outbrake you," but his point was well taken: The GTS does everything well. Some felt the active anti-roll bars were overkill, perhaps diluting some of the chassis feel, but more members of our team could not have cared less. "This is some of the best steering on the planet, a chassis that's hardwired to your backside, brakes that never say 'uncle,' and speed you literally have to see on the speedo to believe," editor-at-large Arthur St. Antoine said. "And the thing just reeks of quality. Probably the best all-around 911 ever."
Amazingly for our group of wags, those sentiments were almost unanimous, making the GTS a clear All-Star. Everything about this Carrera whispers balance, the kind that makes it a joy to drive even moderately fast. "Porsche's decades of refinements come through perhaps most clearly in this model, which provides just enough edge without abusing or overstaying its welcome," contributor Basem Wasef concluded. "Short jaunt or long road trip, the GTS is equally adept at either." No one was compelled to argue with him.
Does that make it the best new 911 available? With no less than 23 911s to choose from, a formula for almost anyone's taste, it's impossible to unequivocally hand the Carrera GTS that title. But we'll be hard-pressed to debate for long with anyone who reaches such a conclusion. As for why our crew kept its praise to itself until the end of our All-Stars event? The only explanation we've come up with says that after countless combined years behind the wheel of 911s, no one expected anything less.
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Specifications
|ENGINE||3.0L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve flat-6/450 hp@ 6,500 rpm, 405 lb-ft @ 2,150-5,000 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 4-passenger, rear-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||20/26 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||178.3 x 77.9 x 51.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED||192 mph|