Porsche 911 GTS

The best manual car money can buy

STEPHEN CORBY

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

IT MAY be playing in a small and shrinking field, but it’s still worth lauding the fact that Porsche’s new 911 GTS is, unquestionably, the best car available in the world with a manual transmission.

Worryingly, Porsche won’t commit to the next 911 offering the same option, because manual sales have already fallen to less than 15 percent globally and 10 percent in Australia. Even the man known as the Father of the 911, August Achleitner, a purist if ever there was one, would only say he “really hopes” the manual will continue.

And what a gearbox we’ll be losing. The improved seven-speed fitted to the uprated GTS – which sits below the PDK-only GT3 and Turbo – requires even less shifting force and has even more precise gates than it did before.

Using this instrument of tactile precision to direct the symphony of sound that comes from the GTS’s upgraded 3.8-litre flat-six makes you whoop with joy. It’s quite possibly the best sounding Porsche of all time.

The extra power – 22kW more than the Carrera S – was liberated by reworking the intake manifold, which also delivers more torque at low revs. The 0-100km/h time is four seconds flat and top speed is 306km/h, but even more impressive is its tractability.

On a winding road climbing out of the Los Angeles smog it was incredible how far you could stretch it in third gear. Yet you could just as easily torque your way around tight bends in fourth, depending on what tune you wanted to play with the engine.

On the track at Willow Springs raceway, a circuit so fast and so hairy that fear is your constant co-pilot, the prodigious lateral grip generated through long corners has your shoulders starting to ache from holding on.

With the Carrera 4’s wide body and sexier hips, the rear track is 36mm wider and, combined with standard active dampers that lower ride height 10 percent, the rear-drive GTS feels even more planted and bulletproof on a track than the regular Carrera S.

Visually, the differences between the cars are not huge, but the GTS badges on the boot are all you need to know that this is now the ultimate road-going Porsche.

It’s an even better car than the last 911 GTS version, which was one of my all-time favourites.

For once, the base model is the best, too, starting at $268,700 in manual guise. The GTS is also available as a Cabriolet, and even in all-paw Carrera 4 guise, but these, much like the PDK versions, don’t show the GTS at its best. g , n -r rites. ase e riolet, arrera ts

PLUS & MINUS

As usual, we’re asked to pay too much for one in Australia Outstanding grip, steering, handling, ride, exhaust note, performance...

What a sound

THE standard sports exhaust has been specifically tuned to provide the GTS with a unique and quite brilliant note; a deep, bassy and brassy bottom end that erupts through the mid-range and screams at the redline. sound of the 991 version until now. “The engineers have lifted it up, and now it’s just right,” he smiles.

Porsche 911 product chief August Achleitner admits he wasn’t quite happy with the