The Porsche 911 once was an impractical, tail-happy demon.
Engine: 3.8 L six-cylinder engine, 430 hp, 325 lb-ft.
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic
USA Pricing: 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS starts at $131,395 after destination charges
CDN Pricing: 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS starts at $138,985 after destination charges
EPA Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, 19.3 mpg observed average
CDN Fuel Economy: 12.6 L/100 km city, 9.2 L/100 km highway, 12.2 L/100 km observed average.
But decades of refinement have crafted these rear-engine Stuttgart wonders into truly livable sports cars. Space, comfort and practicality are things not usually associated with the 911, but should be.
For years, Porsche has shown its prowess when it comes to winter driving with the Camp4 program. With all-wheel drive and proper winter tires, a 911 is nearly unstoppable in all but the worst snow storms. Seeing a Porsche 911 driving around in the dead of winter is becoming more common. The same can’t be said for a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray or a Jaguar F-Type.
More Practical Than Meets the Eye
With the engine located in the back of the vehicle, the 911 is unfairly written off as an impractical car. The front trunk does measure a mere 4.4 cubic feet, offering less storage than an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Mercedes-AMG GT S or even 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. But unlike any of those cars, the 911 features a rear seat.
OK, it might not be the most accommodating place in the world, but it is suitable for children, including those still in an infant seat. I installed a rear-facing baby seat and my wife was actually able to sit in front of it for trips across the city. Plus the rear seats fold down.
Still, anyone over the age of 10 or so will not enjoy being stuffed into the back of the 911. That doesn’t mean it’s wasted space though. With both rear seat backs folded down, the 911 easily accommodates two sets of golf clubs. Even with the rear-facing child seat installed in the Porsche, I was able to fit two adults, a baby, a pack and play, a bouncing chair, seven large bags of various baby and parent belongings and a few smaller bags of hand-me-down clothes. Let’s see an Audi R8 do that.
But has it Lost that Loving Feeling?
This raises the question: In an effort for better livability, has the 911 undergone a complete Camry-ification? Thankfully, no; the 911’s handling is as great as it has always been. With wide 245/45ZR20 tires up front and steamroller 305/30ZR20 tires in the rear, the 911 has more grip than super glue sandwiched between two strips of duct tape.
In full sport plus settings, the 911 is anything but soft, as it’s ready to devour tarmac one petroleum coated pebble at a time. The all-wheel-drive system, dual-clutch transmission, boxer engine and hardened suspension components come together in the same blissful harmony that has made the 911 such an icon. Is the electric power steering (EPS) as good as the hydraulic systems of old? Obviously not. But as far as EPS systems go, the 911 still offers one of the best on the market.
And when it’s time to slow down, the 911 transforms back into a docile cruiser. Slap everything into normal mode and the Porsche becomes as comfortable as most luxury sport sedans. The suspension softens, the engine becomes less frantic and the exhaust system quiets down. Even with the uber wide rear tires, it is easy to drive the 911 on the highway, as it’s surprisingly insusceptible to truck ruts and road crowns.
Flat Six Goodness
The 911 has built a reputation on horizontally opposed six-cylinder engines, so finding one of these flat six-pots hanging behind the rear wheels shouldn’t come as a surprise. Measuring 3.8 liters in displacement, the 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS exhorts 430 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque out of the six-cylinder engine.
Paired to the optional semi-automatic PDK transmission along with the Sport Chrono package, Porsche claims the 911 Carrera 4 GTS will torpedo to 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.8 seconds. Top speed is listed at an impressive 188 mph.
Despite these remarkable numbers, acceleration does not feel blindingly quick, which is a by-product of a naturally aspirated engine. To eek the most of the 3.8-liter unit, high rpms are required at which point the engine explodes to life in terms of power and sound. Still, it’s never an overwhelming sense of speed that can occur with some turbocharged engines that feel like on-off switches. The 911 Carrera 4 GTS remains completely controllable at all times and easily modulated between different levels of power, depending on the situation.
And speaking of power, it’s a wonderful time we live in. It wasn’t all that long ago 400+ hp meant atrocious fuel consumption. But in 2015, that’s no longer the case. Even with permanent all-wheel drive, the 911 Carrera 4 GTS is rated to return 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. During my time with the car, I averaged 19.3 mpg.
Is the GTS Worth it?
So the 2015 Porsche 911 is a great, livable sports car. But is the Carrera 4 GTS the right model? Well, let’s first look at what the GTS brings to the table. Based on the Carrera 4S that begins at $118,525 after destination charges, the Carrera 4 GTS comes with standard HID headlights, center lock wheels and the fantastic sport exhaust system. The exterior differs from the Carrera as well with trim changes like the quad black exhaust tips and smoked headlights. Inside, the GTS has an upgraded interior featuring plenty of alcantara.
From a performance perspective, the GTS adds 30 hp on top of the Carrera S. An auxiliary radiator is installed and the active dampers allow the 911’s body to sit 10 mm lower.
The Verdict: 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Review
Are added luxury and a 0.3-seconds faster to 60 mph time worth the Carrera 4 GTS’s $121,895 starting price? That depends on what you want. If it’s all-out performance, the GTS probably won’t cut it. Spend a bit more money and grab the $131,395 911 GT3. But for an all-around, everyday sports car, the Carrera 4 GTS is definitely worth it over a Carrera 4S.
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