Malaga, Spain -- The Circuito Ascari S.L., to be more precise, is located roughly 100km northwest of the beautiful city of Malaga. The track is highly technical with a number of corners that are meant to mimic famous corners at equally famous tracks. As well, it is set in the heart of a pair a National Parks replete with beautiful mountains, trees, and the growl of flat 6-cylinder engines, and one debilitating normally aspirated V8.
It is here that I was fortunate and able to sample what is essentially the best of the best of Porsche’s performance-bred streetcars.
If the first GTS cars were a little more hardcore, the ‘90s 928 brought with it not only big power but lots of luxury and loads of high performance driving abilities. Today, the focus is not only on performance (more power, all the top handling goodies), but also on design and the emotion surrounding the car.
All of the GTS cars get unique physical improvements that tangibly set the GTS cars apart from the “base” and “S” Porsches. The radiator cover and portions of the front fascia (air intakes) are all black. Some colours, such as Sapphire blue and Carmine red, also pull the eye in.
The Carrera 2 GTS is gifted with the Carrera 4’s 44mm wider rump and then all get a 10mm drop thanks to the standard PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management). An available Sport Chassis option lowers the ride height further to 20mm. Dynamically and aesthetically, um: yum. Despite this, the goal of the GTS is to maintain comfort and ease of handling.
Power numbers climb 30-50 horsepower over the “S” cars; most of this extra oomph comes in at higher rpm. With the rise in engine speeds comes emotion, over and above what one feels by simply staring at the car. Sport Exhaust is standard and the sound is tuned specifically for each engine. True exhaust sound is channeled into the cabin, not digitally enhanced. It’ll bring a tear to your eye. Perhaps both.
Some of the options that were found on the cars I drove included the always impressive Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), both of which I would spring for.
Here are some details on each delightful GTS car currently on offer from Porsche.
Porsche Boxster GTS
- 3.4L H6, 330 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque
- Acceleration 0-100km/h (with PDK and Sport Chrono Package): 4.7 seconds
I sampled this car last summer through a typical weeklong road test. The glory that is this car in summer with the top down coupled with the sport exhaust makes you thankful to be alive.
Porsche Cayman GTS
- 3.4L H6, 340 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque
- Acceleration 0-100km/h (with PDK and Sport Chrono Package): 4.6 seconds
My review of the 2015 Cayman GTS will be online in the coming months, and although I’m thoroughly smitten with the car, it was at this track that I fully discovered the depth of ability that the Cayman GTS holds. Shooting towards apexes ever faster while the masterful PDK pounds away at gears is magical. What I was seeing and doing through corners was beyond my beliefs.
I may have positioned this car as my 2nd favourite GTS, but it might be the best track-ready street Porsche there is. The 911 Carrera 2 was my No. 1 #because911.
Porsche Cayenne GTS
- 3.6L twin-turbo V6, 440 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque
- Acceleration 0-100km/h (with Sport Chrono Package): 5.1 seconds
Unfortunately for me, I did not drive this one on the track. I had my heart set on the mid- and rear-engined cars at this event. Be that as it may, I’ve driven various Cayennes in the past (including a 2009 GTS), and am always impressed by the sheer brute force and handling abilities of Porsche’s ‘ute.
Porsche Panamera GTS
- 4.8L V8, 440 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque
- Acceleration 0-100km/h (with Sport Chrono Package): 4.4 seconds
Well, I wasn’t solely minded on the flat-sixes… I lapped the Ascari track in this car if only because I wanted to hear and feel the roar the final normally aspirated Porsche V8 possessed. Massive though it may be, the Panamera flew from one section to the other of the track. It hides its girth very well, and is stunning to behold.
Porsche 911 Carrera/Targa GTS
- 3.8L H6, 430 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque
- Acceleration 0-100km/h (Carrera 2 with PDK and Sport Chrono Package): 4.0 seconds
I drove both a Carrera 2 and 4, and it’s the 2 that won me over as my favourite GTS car. On the track, the Carrera 4 GTS with PDK was mind-blowingly fast and impossibly agile. While the ‘box managed the cogs, the AWD system with PTV Plus (Porsche Torque Vectoring) with electronic rear differential lock (w/PDK) kept the 911 online at every corner. Lightly braking the inside rear wheel, the outside rear wheel makes use of the extra torque consequently pushing the car deeper into the corner. Coming out the other side requires a steady right foot and good sized cojones, as the 911 will go faster than the driver thinks possible.
As for the star of the event, the 911 Targa GTS, read more about it here in my full review.