Let’s face it, a few times each year I’m blessed with the task of evaluating a high-performance sports car that would otherwise never grace my driveway.
The 2011 Porsche Carrera GTS from Porsche’s press fleet is just such a car. This dipped-in-white screamer got my pulse racing quicker than a double espresso. The monochrome white body and white 19-inch centerlock wheels were breathtakingly handsome. Peak inside and there are black leather sport seats, white-faced gauges and a white center console.
Twist the left-side-of-the-dash key, and 408 naturally aspirated horses spring to life with a sound that sends chills up your neck. The flat-six engine has pin-you-in-the-seat power that squirts you past 60 miles per hour in four seconds and will reach 190 mph if you happen to have access to the Bonneville Salt Flats or a really long, private road. The sound of a six-cylinder Porsche engine at full song is a mechanical opera unlike that of any other car. A special button on the dash opens flaps in the mufflers and turns the pipes into a Porsche Pavarotti.
Many racetracks have performance driving days where a car like this can be exercised under proper supervision.
The GTS is available as a coupe or cabriolet. Prices start at $103,100 for the coupe and $112,900 for the cabriolet.
The GTS differs from the Carrera S in several ways. The 3.8-liter engine cranks out 23 more horsepower than it does in the Carrera S. Better still, the maximum 310 pound-feet of torque arrives 200 rpm sooner, and that improves drivability.
Fuel economy is rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway. That’s pretty good for a car capable of this performance.
The GTS also gets the wide body from the Carrera 4 and wider front and rear track.
The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, and that is how the test car was equipped. My personal choice would be the PDK seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, because it is truly a delight. This unit is essentially a seven-speed manual gearbox with two automatic clutches. In normal mode, the transmission shifts like an automatic, but the driver can grab a quick downshift in an instant with paddles in the steering wheel. The transmission will revert to full automatic mode after a short while.
For maximum performance, there is also a manual mode, and shifts are made with the gear lever or the paddles.
One fun option is the Sport Chrono package that includes a built-in chronometer for keeping track of lap times on a racetrack.
Porsche brakes are extremely powerful, and the GTS erases speed immediately.
The test car had the adjustable sports suspension that one expects in a car of this performance potential. In normal mode, the ride is quite firm, but not so much that your kidneys hurt. Flick the Sport button and you can feel every pebble under the tires. The car sits dead flat in turns, yet the ride is still supple enough to be tolerable on a daily basis.
Safety items include anti-lock brakes, traction control and vehicle stability control. Front, side and side-curtain airbags are standard, too.
The base price of the test car was $103,100. Options included special leather seats that are both heated and cooled, sport suspension, limited-slip differential, sport chronometer package, Bose surround-sound stereo, XM satellite radio, white-faced gauges, a white center console and a navigation system. The sticker price was $119,920.
Warranty: Four years or 50,000 miles.
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Porsches are made for driving, and the Carrera GTS fits like a tailor-made suit. The engine wails when you nail it, the handling is racetrack tight and the cabin is meant for driving, not lounging. If you’re serious about the time you spend behind the wheel, and have ample resources, the GTS is just your ticket.
Trunk space is small, the cabin can be noisy and the ride is extra firm.
2011 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
Engine: 3.8-liter, 408-hp 6-cyl.
Wheelbase: 92.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,131 pounds
Base price: $103,100
As driven: $119,920
Mpg rating: 18 city, 25 hwy.