2023 Porsche 911 GTS Manual 992

2023 Porsche 911 GTS Manual 992

If, instead of Porsche’s impressive facility in Stuttgart, the 992 911 family was actually grown on vines and finished in oak barrels, the Carrera would be a fresh young riesling and the Carrera S would be a bold durif, while the Turbo siblings would sit on the top shelf in grappa bottles.


BEING ‘SUBTURBO’ NEVER FELT SO GOOD

2023 Porsche 911 GTS Manual 992


But what if you want the hearty warmth of an interesting red, distilled into something that still has the trademarks of the winery but more strength and just the right amount of complexity and sweetness?


2023 Porsche 911 GTS Manual 992

That’s where the Porsche 911 GTS comes into play. With a little extra power and sophistication without having to stretch to the eye-watering pace and price of the Turbos, the midrange variant is the 911 equivalent of vermouth.

For a balance of track potential and open-road useability, the GTS is, once again, king

2023 Porsche 911 GTS Manual 992

Until now, there was about a $110,000 gap between the Carerra 4S coupe and Turbo Coupe 992, which narrowed to $73,000 if you jump up to the more track-focused GT3. That has just changed with the Australian arrival of this GTS version of the 992 911. Its performance, luxuries and styling are sharpened for $314,800 – a step up of just $18,000 over the 4S coupe.

No manual gear shift with auto selector; manual option restricted to coupe

If you’re getting a sense of deja vu at about this point, so am I. That’s because I’ve already driven the new 911 GTS at its international launch in 2021, describing it at the time as, “just a little faster and louder without spoiling the power delivery, it’s that little bit sharper on the road without compromising comfort, and it adds small luxury touches without becoming vulgar”.

For a reunion on home turf, therefore, I was expecting none of the glowing first impressions to have changed. So instead of covering the same ground a second time, let’s focus on filling in the blanks with something I didn’t manage to get my hands on in the other hemisphere – the manual.


2023 Porsche 911 GTS Manual 992

Porsche is offering a stick version of the 992 GTS for the same price as the PDK and that’s significant for two key reasons. There’s now a pair of manual 911s available in the local 992 line-up, the GTS joining the GT3 (and GT3 Touring). But, while those versions get a six-speed gearbox, the GTS gets Porsche’s seven-speed manual.

Power delivery and noise; manual gearbox complements everything

There is a caveat. While the auto GTS is on offer as a coupe, Targa and convertible with options of two- and and-wheel drive, you can only have the manual in conjunction with the rear-drive coupe. Not a problem, it turns out. All versions get the same tuned-up version of the 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six, which gains an extra 22kW and 20Nm for peak outputs of 353kW and 570Nm. Apply that to the all-wheel drive Carrera 4 GTS and 0-100km/h is possible in just 3.3 seconds says Porsche. In the manual, however, it takes 4.1sec … and I’ve never cared less about eight-tenths. The level of charisma and interaction that the excellent stick-shift brings to the 911 is worth it and more. Firstly, the slower shifts compared with the (also brilliant) eight-speed PDK auto create an entirely different soundtrack, with a retro vocal holler when revmatching up and down the gears. It’s utterly addictive and the shorter-throw lever makes it an absolute joy to click through the closely bunched ratios.

The sonorous six soundtrack permeates the interior from the special sport exhaust and induction in equal measures and does a very good rendition of a naturally aspirated engine despite its pair of turbos.

Power delivery is just as convincing and the flat-six delivers the free-revving nature and high peak power of an atmo engine, with the full 353kW there at 6500rpm, but the temptation to push beyond to the 7500rpm redline is impossible to resist. Generous maximum torque of 570Nm arriving at just 2300rpm and lasting all the way through to 5000rpm is the only real indication that there is some form of forced induction going on.

Regardless of the transmission, the 911 GTS lacks nothing in chassis charisma. How could it, with a 10mm lower ride height, retuned adaptive damper and spring rates, and wheels pinched from the Turbo S?

That, as I’ve already discovered at Porsche’s experience centre in Franciacorta, translates very nicely to a smooth race track, with enormous cornering speeds possible and a predictable but lively tail end – particularly under hard braking.

A few more laps, and home-ground Norwell was also starting to highlight the immense and stoic stopping power of the six-piston front brakes and four-piston rears that are lifted from the Turbo, along with 21-inch wheels at the back and 20-inch rims up front. If you’ve got cash burning a really big hole in your pocket, you can upgrade to carbon-ceramic discs but the standard system is so good, it brings the necessity of the exotic material into question.

The greatest revelation 10 months later though, is just how well the bespoke GTS recipe works on local roads. With a variety of perfect, recently resurfaced bitumen and nasty storm-damaged asphalt, the deft damper tuning works an absolute treat. Yes, the ride is firm in all modes, but completely liveable for a midrange sports model. More surprising, though, is the ability to remain unflustered by even significant imperfections in the road surface. On more than one occasion I braced for a surprise pothole but the GTS skimmed over with a minimum of fuss.

Steering also follows a similarly lovely trend. Sharpened and enhanced just enough to stand out from its more affordable siblings, there’s a delightful weight off-centre but a sensitivity and precision about the GTS that never switches off. When cruising, the slim and ergonomic wheel is constantly alive in the hands and full of feedback but never nagging or attention-seeking.

The combination is a car that feels focused and attentive at all times, but never exhausting or twitchy. If you plan on spending a majority of your time negotiating questionable Aussie roads in a 911, the base Carrera or S are probably still the pick with the most compliant ride while still offering a heap of fun at the wheel. But for a balance of track potential and openroad useability, the GTS is, once again, king of the line-up.

Similar logic applies to the styling and equipment package. While the variants beyond the mid-point start to introduce more ostentatious aesthetics, the GTS is pleasantly restrained. The lack of louvres, spoilers and splitters highlights one of the prettiest and most elegant 911 designs in almost 60 years of evolution.

Which begs the question – carbonfibre roof or pop-top sunroof? It’s probably the latter that makes most sense in a version of the 911 that offers the best balance of luxury and performance and if the small amount of poise that the glass panel costs bothers you, then the GT3 corner is probably the part of the showroom you might want to wander over to.

Speaking of which, the GT3 is an impossibly accomplished iteration of the 911 but, ironically, it’s that car which makes the best case for the GTS. Harnessed in at the wheel of the roll-caged, finned and spoilered 911, it’s about as easy to fully relax as when taking a retired police Alsatian for a walk without a muzzle. The GTS, however, is like walking a retired greyhound. Let it off the lead and it’ll occasionally eat a cavoodle, but the rest of the time it’s just fine trotting by your side or on the couch.

Further enhancing the best-of-both-worlds 911 is a selection of kit that, like the performance enhancements, suits a track day without compromising its on-road manners.

Porsche’s normally costly Sport Chrono pack is included in the price, bringing the beautiful dash-mounted stopwatch, steering wheel-mounted driving mode dial, Track precision application, tyre temp monitor and the option to switch the Porsche Stability Management independently. Like the exterior, the GTS cabin also gets a dusting of blacked-out and darker trims and finishes. Black anodized centre console, door trims and dash cappings match the satin black wheels and smoked LED exterior lights. GTS embroidery on the beautifully ergonomic Sport Plus seats reminds occupants of the more desirable heritage, as do the tread plates on entry and exit.

Regardless of the variant, the GTS packs in a lot more value compared with the Carrera S but, of course, Porsche offers a long list of options that enables an even more bespoke and desirable sports car.

The hardest decision, however, is deciding which of the five new variants one should pick. Something with the ‘4’ all-wheel-drive system will doubtless offer a little more versatility for all-season driving and the ability to open the taps earlier in corners. But it’s the rear-drive coupe that is so wonderfully engaging and captivating without having a nasty side that becomes scary or unmanageable when poked.

So that leaves just one remaining decision. I, like many Porsche fans, am increasingly gravitating toward the excellent dual-clutch auto, and applications like the excessively long-legged Cayman GTS 4.0 manual don’t stack up well in the manual vs auto argument. To that end, I was expecting a blast in the new manual 911 GTS to galvanise my suspicion that it’s finally time to let the H-pattern dream go. But the spectacularly good seven-speed 911 GTS is a reminder that the very best driver’s Porsches will always allow room for the traditional manual, enhancing a glorious engine and fine dynamics in equal measures. Long may that last.

Below: Software tweaks bump up outputs by 22kW and 20Nm; revs at which peak power occurs remains unchanged.Manual’s second gear tops out at 124km/h. Who needs gear shifting anyway.


TECHNICAL DATA Model 2023 Porsche 911 GTS Manual 992

  • Engine 2981cc flat-6, dohc, 24v, t/turbo
  • Max power 480bhp/353kW @ 6500rpm
  • Max torque 570Nm @ 2500-5000rpm
  • Transmission 7-speed manual
  • Weight 1510kg
  • 0-100km/h 4.1sec (claimed)
  • Economy 10.2L/100km
  • Price $314,800
  • On sale Now
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