Perfect balance, in every way
THE GOOD
  • Fantastic handling and performance
  • The sweet spot of the 911 lineup range
  • Relatively affordable
THE BAD
  • Not very practical
  • Carrera GTS least comfortable, loud
  • Options can get very expensive, very fast

ATLANTA – The Cambridge Dictionary describes balance as “an even distribution of weight,” but also “a condition in which different elements are equal, or in the correct proportions.”

You couldn’t ask for a more perfect way to sum up the latest Porsche 911 model to grace the ground – a trim developed to satisfy disparate elements of the Porsche demographic, while still maintaining the catlike poise that’s the foundation of their brand.

Short for Gran Turismo Sport, the GTS takes some of the raw performance elements of the ferocious Turbo S and smooths it out with luxurious comfort and all the latest technology. In the past, GTS variants of the 911 had been criticized for being more grand tourer than performance car. The spectrum of 911 models has grown even wider with the current generation; the track-focused GT3 has become too hardcore for practical daily use, and the 911 Carrera is too technically refined to satisfy the purist.

That left a gap in the 992 lineup for the 2022 Porsche 911 GTS models to evolve into something more, with a just-right balance filling the sweet spot. And depending on how you order it, there’s a wide span of difference within the GTS range itself, from track-capable to stylishly luxurious.

The Blue Ridge Mountain foothills in northern Georgia offer a sublime network of winding pavement that’s just right for getting to know a new sports car. We divided our time between the Carrera GTS, a lightweight rear-wheel-drive purist’s projectile, and the stylish and luxury-laden Targa 4 GTS, with both proving immensely satisfying in their own ways.

Styling: 9/10

In Carmine Red the 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is an eye-catching package, heightened by matte-black trim, standard 20- and 21-inch staggered centre-lock wheels in satin black, darkened head- and taillight housings, and riding 10 mm lower than the standard Carrera. Black exhaust outlets protrude from a matte-black diffuser-style rear fascia.

The sloping roofline and coiled haunches produce that instantly recognizable outline, but otherwise, Porsche has shown admirable restraint with this design. There is a rear spoiler, but it remains tucked away above the full-width taillight strip, automatically deploying at speed. The cabin is sleek and well crafted with premium leather and suede, but offers no distractions in its simplicity. The carbon-backed bucket sport seats ($6,740) are designed for optimal driver efficiency rather than comfort, sliding only fore and aft, and the rear seats have been done away with entirely as part of the Lightweight package.

Instead of the bewildering array of switchgear in previous 911s, the 2022’s centre stack is streamlined minimalism, with a neat row of toggle switches above the short shifter, and a genuine cupholder below.

In contrast, the retro-inspired Targa GTS makes a stylish statement in understated Chalk paint ($3,730) with GTS-unique matte-black targa bar, black roof, staggered five-bolt RS Spyder wheels, and smoked head- and taillights. With the top down (which can’t be done in motion, by the way), it’s a car to see and be seen in. There are more lashings of comfort here than in the Carrera GTS; the memory seats are 18-way adjustable ($3,460), and there’s plenty of expensive carbon fibre trim for a more richly visual experience.

Driving Feel: 9/10

For the dyed-in-the-wool driving enthusiast, the 911 Carrera GTS is hands-down the best Porsche money can buy. While it lacks the raw aggression and front double-wishbone precision of the GT3, it’s nonetheless a lightweight, “affordable” performance car you can live with.

Our test car featured the Lightweight pack, with rear-seat delete, reduced insulation, and shaved rear window thickness. The extra noise and road harshness produced by its weight reduction is an acceptable trade-off for enhanced agility.

The carbon-backed racing buckets might feel restrictive and unyielding in rush-hour traffic, but point the car’s tapered nose into a winding mountain run and they’ll hold your body perfectly still in high-G corners so your hands can lightly guide the wheel.

While the all-wheel-drive Targa offers a delightfully supple experience though sinewy turns, its eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission ripping off shifts with the precision of a Gatling gun, it’s the 175-kg (386-lb) lighter rear-wheel-drive Carrera that provides an edgier, more visceral thrill. Push it into the corners and the rear end feels lively for an instant before the rear-axle steering keeps it from stepping out.

The suede-covered steering wheel is just the right weight in your hands and delivers superb feedback over a variety of road surfaces. Though I loved the automatic transmission’s booming, surgically sharp downshifts, the GTS’s seven-speed manual transmission is one of the world’s great remaining three-pedal setups. There’s enormous satisfaction in the almost subconscious manipulation of the stubby shifter, while your feet perform a synchronized dance with the clutch and brake pedals.

And about those brakes. This Carrera GTS is equipped with the ceramic units – an eye-watering $11,260 extra that can quickly bring the GTS down from blistering speeds over and over without fading. Underbody aero and the automatic spoiler increase the car’s downforce at speed. Porsche’s sport suspension is standard, and key performance options include active anti-roll bars, rear-axle steering, and a GPS-based front axle lift system that helps clear low obstacles such as curbs – and can be programmed to remember where they are.

Power: 9/10

Every GTS gets the same twin-turbocharged flat-six engine delivering an extra 30 hp and 23 lb-ft of torque over the Carrera S variants thanks to an upward recalibration of the turbo’s boost by 15 per cent. The rear-mounted flat-six delivers 473 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, its gruff, sonorous bark filling the cabin thanks to the standard sport exhaust system. It’s music to an enthusiast’s ears; those who’d prefer to listen to the surround-sound stereo can opt for the more insulated Targa.

There’s enough power for relaxed cruising without constantly being on the shifter, but switch over to sport+ and enjoy the harmonious interplay of accessing the engine’s powerband. Porsche claims the Carrera 4 GTS sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 3.1 seconds when equipped with the automatic, and 3.9 seconds with the manual.

While purists generally sniff at any mention of automatics, the Porsche Doppelkuplung (PDK) dual-clutch unit is nonetheless the best transmission ever built. Leave it in drive and let the telepathy between engine and transmission decide which gear is best. Or switch over to manual and use the wheel-mounted paddle shifters while delighting in the aural booming of its rapid downshifts.

While slightly slower, the seven-speed manual delivers more driver engagement with a perfectly weighted clutch pedal and stubby shifter that slips into gear with a most satisfying snick.

Comfort: 7/10

If it’s comfort you seek, the Targa is probably the right GTS flavour for you. The 18-way adjustable seats are plump yet supportive, and the ride is quieter and more supple than the stiffer Carrera GTS. The driver-centric cockpit feels like a custom-fit suit – and, depending on your body type, might not be exactly all-day comfortable. But it’s an environment designed for the enthusiast that you slip into and wear.

During a busy interstate drive in the sparsely equipped Carrera GTS, I became acutely aware of the harshness of rough tarmac beneath the wheels and the relentless upright position of the locked race seats in stop and go traffic. However, this same restrictive setup simply shines during high-G cornering and braking, keeping you firmly in place and everything at your fingertips.

I hit Atlanta’s brutal rush hour while piloting the Targa 4 GTS, and in the quiet serenity of the comfortable cabin, I set the adaptive cruise control, put the PDK in drive, and let the car handle the monotony of braking and shifting.

Features: 9/10

There was an old joke about Porsches of the past in that the body and steering wheel were standard, and everything else was extra. Options could quickly add up to staggering sums. That changed in recent years, when Porsche began including the same level of comfort, connectivity, and safety technology as its competitors.

Standard in every 911 GTS is a host of performance features: sport button to activate dynamic powertrain settings; no-charge choice of transmissions; auto stop-start function; torque vectoring (which comes standard with a mechanically locking rear differential with the manual); enhanced Porsche Stability Management (PSM). On the Targa, there’s an electrically operated automatic power roof that deploys in 19 seconds, but only while stationary. The sport exhaust system is standard; so are staggered Turbo S wheels in conventional five-lug or centre-lock format; Porsche’s Sport Chrono package; adaptive suspension; launch control; and a so-called track precision app.

Connectivity features include built-in navigation, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth.

Practicality: 7/10

It’s really hard to make a case for a Porsche being practical. And in the case of the Carrera GTS, the rear-seat delete makes it doubly so. But the lower price and better liveability make it a better choice over the Turbo S, or the decidedly impractical GT3. The adaptive suspension and rear-wheel steering give it poise and compliance over broken pavement for more comfortable cruising, and the long list of standard features make the GTS the closest thing to a bargain that you’ll find within the 911 lineup.

User Friendliness: 8/10

The 911’s new streamlined interface makes its operation a lot more intuitive than previous models’ bewildering bank of switchgear. As a driver’s car, everything is well-planned out and within reach. Porschophiles will immediately know to reach on the left rather than the right for the ignition, and roller switches on the steering wheel adjust everything from volume to instrument display. The voice-recognition assistant can be activated with “Hey Porsche” to control everything from navigation and weather info to entertainment or restaurant location.

Fuel Economy: 7/10

While official Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) fuel numbers aren’t yet available, an hour and a half of interstate cruising, followed by some vigorous winding mountain roads, delivered an average of 23.8 mpg in the American-spec Carrera GTS, or 9.9 L/100 km.

Safety: 8/10

Standard safety features in the 911 GTS are forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking; two-stage airbags; engine immobilizer and alarm with radar-based interior surveillance; and rollover protection for Targa models, among others. Options include: blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist.

Value: 8/10

It’s with a straight face that I can refer to the GTS model as the “value proposition” of the 911 lineup. Sure, there are cheaper options; the 911 Carrera starts at only $115,000, but it would cost tens of thousands to equip it with the standard features of the GTS, which starts at $150,000 and offers a comparable driving experience to the $200,000 Turbo. And the GTS has an extra 30 hp over the standard Carrera S. Start slathering on the options and the price climbs, though. Our GTS tester topped out at $200,820. The Targa started at $173,700 with a final price of $215,700 as driven. For comparison, the BMW M4 CS coupe starts at $116,500; the Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe at $178,900.

The Verdict

The 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is one of the most flexible offerings in the 911 lineup, striking the perfect balance of performance, comfort, and affordability. It offers the engaging thrill of a driver’s car, without the hardcore compromise of a full-on performance vehicle like the GT3.

Specifications

Engine Displacement 3.0L   Model Tested 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
Engine Cylinders H6   Base Price $150,700
Peak Horsepower 473 hp @ 6,500–7,500 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 420 lb-ft @2,300–5000 rpm   Destination Fee $1,500
Fuel Economy N/A   Price as Tested $200,820
Cargo Space 132 L (front)  
Optional Equipment
$48,520 – Carmine Red Paint, $3,730; GTS Interior Package, $5,170; Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, $3,610; Rear Axle Steering, $2,390; Tinted LED Main Headlights with Matrix, $2,160; Interior Package in Matte Carbon Fibre, $4,520; Night View Assist, $2,900; Lane Change Assist, $1,200; Adaptive Cruise, $3,450; Lane Keeping Assist with Speed Monitor, $1,390; Ceramic Composite Brakes, $11,260; Carbon Backed Bucket Sport Seats, $6,740