So this is it, then. Allegedly. Porsche's new boss, Matthias Muller, says of the Carrera GTS's place in the 997 time line, “I think this is the end.” Privately, though, some Porsche sources say the firm could squeeze out another variant before the next generation appears next autumn (extra-hot RSR, anyone?).
Regardless of who is right, the GTS has the potential to be one of the sweetest 997s. It takes the wider track and shell of the four-wheel-drive Carrera 4S but drives the rear wheels only. The 3.8-liter engine has the Powerkit installed, so it has 22hp more than a Carrera S (now 402hp), produced slightly further up the rev range (now 7300rpm). And its 310lb-ft of torque is available slightly earlier, at 4200rpm. The sports exhaust system comes as standard, too.
The wider track (by 2mm at the front and 32mm at the rear) has allowed some suspension re-profiling, so you get stiffer springs and anti-roll bars. The 19in. rear tires are wider, too, at 305/30. Porsche claims the GTS is “more neutral” than the Carrera S.
Cosmetically, the car gets an Alcantara-coated steering wheel, the first time the thinner-rimmed item has been offered without PDK paddles. Alcantara is also used on the gear lever and handbrake. You lose the rear seats in the coupe, helping a GTS to weigh 11lbs less than a Carrera S, although you can still have the rear accommodation as a no-cost option.
External styling revisions include a front splitter and side skirts, logos on the doors, black-painted, center-hub wheels and similar-colored exhaust pipes at the rear. You can also spec a 90-liter fuel tank at no extra charge. And, for all this, you pay a whisker under $104,000 – which seems extremely reasonable given that a standard-width Carrera S with just the Powerkit costs nearly $113,000.
It stacks up on the road, too. First off, it's great at being docile. Pockmarked urban roads don't seem to trouble the GTS, and the engine's flexibility allows easy cruising.
Show the car a bit of open road, though, and it has more than enough dynamic ability to put a smile on your face. The steering is wonderfully direct, with excellent initial bite and great feeling. And although the eventual trend is toward understeer, the chassis does feel balanced and keen for you to lean on it through every corner. It's perhaps not quite as light on its feet as a GT3 – but then, it does weigh 55lbs more.
The Powerkit makes its presence felt, but you're more likely to feel it on a racetrack. That's because, even though it does feel like the engine is breathing slightly more freely at low revs, the bigger gain comes beyond 6200rpm, when the motor feels like a completely different power plant.
The air intake system suddenly opens an extra inlet to each cylinder, which frees up a few more horses and makes a noise like a pure racing engine. Your only regret will be that it doesn't sound like this at 4000rpm.
Our test car had Porsche's carbon composite brakes fitted. An expensive option, they have terrific feel and proved resistant to fade on even a long mountain descent. But we see little to worry about with the regular brakes, which we tried on similar roads.
Perhaps it's best to think of the GTS as an obvious, appealing alternative to a Carrera S. It's not a B-road monster for all weathers, like a Turbo. Nor does it feel quite as hardcore as a GT3. But as a package of options put together at an aggressive price, and with the extra carrot of the wider chassis and even finer balance, it has enormous appeal. It could even be all the 911 you'll ever need, in fact. The end? If it is, it's a heck of a way to go.