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2018 Porsche 911 GTS: First Drive Review

Porsche makes no fewer than 20 different variants of its esteemed 911 sports car. That’s an overwhelming number of choices, especially to those unfamiliar with the brand, but the truth is that Porsche has been making this vehicle for more than 50 years, and it’s boiled it down to a science — there’s a very specific methodology to its madness. In a nutshell, there are five well-defined levels of performance that range from the very capable 911 Carrera to the ferocious, track-hungry 911 GT3.

Smack in the middle of automaker’s performance scale is the all-new 2018 Porsche 911 GTS, an enthusiast-tuned variant that slots in nicely between the automaker’s Carrera S and Turbo model range. It boasts enhanced mechanical components and unique cosmetic upgrades to elevate it above its standard siblings, both visually and by the stopwatch. In a nutshell, the 2018 Porsche 911 GTS is a sports car that has been tuned to deliver uncompromising performance for those who take the long way home, yet keeps them comfortable during the ride.

A Fresh Appearance to Announce Its Uniqueness

Differentiating itself from its siblings, the exterior of the 2018 Porsche 911 GTS features a wide-body rear end, a Porsche Sport Design front fascia and a full complement of satin black appliques and badging. Center-lock wheels are standard, which is a nice racing touch, and ‘GTS’ badges adorn the doors and rear decklid. To improve handling, the GTS stands nearly a half-inch lower (dropping its rotational center of gravity), and its rear track is 1.6 inches wider than standard 911 models. The overall appearance is undeniably aggressive.

A high level of equipment is standard, including navigation and the latest infotainment goodies, such as Apple CarPlay and media storage. Major options include LED headlights (upgraded from the standard xenon system) and a Premium package with must-have luxury appointments (keyless entry, dimming mirrors, etc.). See the 2018 Porsche 911 models for sale near you

Mechanical Ferocity to Feed a Racing Ego

This 911, like nearly all other 911 models, boasts a 3.0-liter flat-6 (the 6-cylinder engine with horizontally opposed cylinders is a Porsche signature). The GTS has been fitted with a pair of upgraded turbochargers, larger than standard, that help it to deliver 450 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed transmission is standard, with Porsche offering a choice between a traditional manual or a dual-clutch automated (PDK) gearbox. Thanks to a low curb weight of less than 3,200 pounds, the GTS will accelerate to 60 mph in as little as 3.5 seconds — that’s a conservative number, as seat-of-the pants acceleration says it feels quick. The top speed is rate at 193 mph (EPA rated fuel economy is 18 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway). The engine pulls to its redline of 7,500 rpm eagerly, which is uncharacteristic of turbocharged engines, with a very linear power delivery. Both gearboxes are near-flawless in operation — neither is a poor choice.

All GTS models arrive with a long list of performance-enhancing upgrades as standard fitment. These include Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in staggered 245/35-20 (front) and 305/30-20 (rear) tires, and a multi-piston braking system. Stick-shift models boast Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) and a mechanical rear differential lock, while PDK-equipped models are equipped with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+) and an electronically controlled rear differential lock.

 A Dash of Luxury and Civility to Preserve Sanity

No driver or passenger will question the primary mission of the GTS, which is to cover the real estate between two points in the shortest possible time while putting a smile on its operator’s face. Its handling is sharp and precise, its brakes are nosebleed strong, and the acceleration is dizzying — but it has a much softer side, too.

Spin the standard 4-mode switch dial on the steering wheel to ‘Normal’ (the settings include ‘Normal,’ ‘Sport,’ ‘Sport+’ and ‘Individual’), which is its softest setting, and the sport exhaust gets quieter, the engine response relaxes, and the ride softens. There’s still a noticeable amount of road noise from the wide tires, but the overall experience goes from ‘wild’ to ‘mild’ in seconds. Crank up the tunes on the high-powered audio system, switch on the cool ventilated seats and toss a few 22-in suitcases into the nose-mounted trunk — the GTS can make cross-country road trips downright comfortable, as well as fun.

Sumptuous Flavors to Satisfy Every Appetite

The GTS isn’t a single vehicle, like the GT3. Instead, Porsche treats it like a trim level, offering the GTS appointments on several different platforms. Porsche realized years ago that its customers want choices, and the new GTS doesn’t fail to disappoint. The automaker makes the 911 GTS in Carrera Coupe, Cabriolet and Targa body styles, with a choice between rear- and all-wheel drive (AWD is standard on Targa models). While the closed-roof coupe is the lightest of the bunch — it tips the scales at just 3,197 pounds — few shoppers will be able to resist the allure of the power-operated folding roof on the Cabriolet or the open-air experience of the Targa models (the operation of its gyrating power roof is mechanical wizardry).

 Could the 911 GTS Be the Perfect 911?

Despite an overwhelming number of choices in the model range, Porsche has simplified the process of choosing a 911 with the introduction of the GTS. The very capable sports car quenches the thirst of those seeking a high-performance model while simultaneously satisfying those who need to need a vehicle comfortable enough for daily use. While its base price of just over $120,000 appears steep at first glance, it’s a bargain for the 911 shopper when each of its numerous upgrades — standard on the GTS — are considered. The savings add up to the thousands.

If you’re in the market for a new Porsche 911 — an enviable position by any standards — you can’t go wrong by making the very capable, enthusiast-tuned 2018 Porsche 911 GTS your starting point.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

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