Malaga, Spain -- On arrival day, I sat with a colleague and everyone’s favourite Porsche rep for a bite to eat before returning to my hotel room to write this story, among others.
Lunch conversation revolved around cars, as it should, as we discussed Porsche’s ever increasing sales (both for new and used cars) and touched on the topic of the moment: Porsche’s GTS vehicles. It was confirmed that we were going to drive, among others, the new 2016 911 Targa GTS, a Cayman, Boxster, Carrera, and Panamera, as well as a Cayenne.
As you may or may not know, GTS stands for “Gran Turismo Sport" or, in other words, the highest performance (not to be confused with race) focused street version of the car that bears the nomenclature. From there, the GT cars (GT2, GT3, GT4) take it all to another level, but not without some compromise. The GTS cars are easy-to-live-with dailies. True story.
The most famous of the GTs (other than the Carrera GT) is the 911 GT3 for which Porsche had to recently remind the car business that it more or less owned the name and has since the 1999 911 GT3. “GTS” has a far more elaborate tale behind it as it all started a little over 50 years ago with the delectably gorgeous and highly sought after 1963 904 GTS. This car was upgraded for track use and actually won twice in the manufacturer's world championship (including the legendary Targa Florio) back in 1964 and 1965. What was especially telling was how well the car was sorted for street use; it turned out to be a pioneer for Porsche in transferring race-developed know-how into regular road cars.
The “GTS” trim reappeared in the ‘80s and ‘90s when the 924 GTS and 928 GTS carried the torch.
The 1981 924 Carrera GTS was quite special and created for homologation reasons. Its engine produced 245 horsepower and if your model was one of the 15 (of 59) Club Sports with a roll-cage and a lightweight bodyshell with fiberglass panels and plexiglass windows, your mill put out 280 hp.
The 928 GTS was one of my personal favourites in the ‘90s. In 1993, the 350 horsepower front-mounted 5.4L V8 and flared wheel arches made my juices flow. This one is also something of a rarity, unlike the GT and S4 versions.
In both cases, the cars were exceptional performers and devilishly fast, and drop-dead gorgeous. These criteria carry forth into today’s lineup of GTS cars.
The first modern-era GTS vehicle from Porsche was none other than the Cayenne GTS. I clearly recall my time at the wheel in 2008, shifting through the six manual cogs (amen!) and listening to the then stonking 405-horsepower normally aspirated 4.8L V8 growl. Something so big and tall should not have been able to handle like a sports car, but it did.
The current crop of GTS Porsches is exactly what it should be: the most powerful and best performing cars of their respective model series. This is not to say that they are stripped down like the GT cars. In fact, the GTS iteration of all Porsches (save for the Macan for the moment) is the ideal weekend track-day heroe that tackle the weekday grudge without punishing occupants.