2022 Porsche 911 GTS First Drive Review: Just Right

The Porsche 911 may be quick, but it can’t outrun Mother Nature.

I’m about 80 miles north of Atlanta in the 2022 Porsche 911 GTS, specifically in Targa form. The weather has changed a few times over the course of the day, with some level of rain consistently pitter-pattering on the roof. But the sun has returned, if only briefly, and that means spending the 19 seconds, stationary, to watch the ballet performance as the roof disappears. As soon as it’s done, we’re off down the day’s test loop, a pretty (and pretty empty) ribbon of tarmac filled with sweeping curves and a handful of off-camber blind corners. The 911 is a gem here, tracking true through everything the mountains dare throw at it.

Not even halfway through, the rain picks back up, and I’m forced to stop to bring the roof back out of hiding. I’m still grinning.

The current-generation 911 is already an excellent everyday sports car. With this GTS model, Porsche has given lucky buyers more of what makes the 992 so good, cherry-picking the very best options and including a handful of exclusive features as well. GTS models have been the best all-round options in previous generations, and I’m happy to report Porsche is sticking to tradition here.

What’s new?

The whole GTS treatment has been a part of the 911 lineup—and indeed every modern Porsche sans Taycan—for a while now. The recipe calls for a generous helping of optional equipment from the S being made standard, at a comparative bargain over going a la carte. The driving experience is tweaked too, with a rejigged suspension and a slight increase in power. Basically, everything you like about the non-Turbo, non-GT3 models, but about 15 percent more of it.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Review: You Get What You Give

While the Macan, Cayenne, and Panamera GTS models all use detuned versions of their respective Turbo engines, the 911 instead turns the wick up on the 3.0-liter flat-six found lower in the range. Power is up 30 horsepower, now totalling 473 hp; torque swells by the same amount, to 420 pound-feet max. For reference, that’s as much horsepower as the 911 Turbo of 2009, and barely less torque. It’s enough grunt to launch the GTS to 62 mph (100 km/h) in anywhere from 3.3 to 3.6 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package and the eight-speed PDK, depending on number of driven wheels and body style.

That’s right: you can have the GTS treatment on every existing permutation of 911. Carrera GTS and Carrera 4 GTS models are available in both coupe and cabriolet forms, in addition to the Targa, which comes only with all-wheel drive. All of the GTS models come with a seven-speed manual transmission as standard, with the extra-cog PDK a no-cost option.

Other changes on the road to GTS-ness include a 10-percent shorter throw for the manual, a 0.4-inch (10 mm) drop in ride height, and centerlock wheels—a first for the GTS. Black trim pieces mark out the GTS from outside, while the interior receives generous lashings of Alcantara.

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Coupe goes hard

For this first meeting with the 992 GTS, Porsche brought two distinctly different flavors of the car. The red car you’ll see in these pictures is my first ride of the day: a rear-drive coupe, equipped with the seven-speed manual. Peer behind the dainty spokes of the 20-inch front wheels and the ceramic composite brakes fill most of the space. These huge, 16.1-inch (410-mm) discs, plucked from the 911 Turbo, have enough stopping power to imprint seatbelt shapes on chests. The rear brakes aren’t much smaller at 15.4 inches (390 mm), though they have more room within the 21-inch rears wheels.

SEE ALSO: 2021 BMW M4 Competition Review: Smells Like Success

It’s only a few feet before the 911 feels right. The seven-speed manual is a treat to row, short and precise in its throws with a positive clutch pedal. There’s even automatic throttle blipping for downshifts. Drivers can now toggle this irrespective of drive modes, as well. Truth be told, the uprated engine means there’s little reason to swap cogs often. The flat-six is so ridiculously tractable that it could tackle everything this road could throw at it in fourth.

But doing that would rob a driver of the sweet shifter movement, and the free-spinning feel from the six cylinders slung out behind the rear axle. There’s practically zero lag, with a linear power delivery right past 7,000 rpm. Swapping over to Sport and Sport Plus modes adds an extra edge to throttle response, and a quick press of the Sport Response button ups the power in 20-second bursts.

The front-end grip is mega, courtesy of Goodyear Eagle F1 tires. The GTS stays locked in no matter how much power is coursing through those 305-section rear tires. There’s a real sense of lightness to the GTS, as it quickly flicks from left to right and back again. The latest generation of 911 may have shifted ever closer to a grand tourer, but the GTS reinforces the purer sports car roots of the model. On these roads, there’s more than a hint of the magical GT3.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe First Drive Review: Pick of the Litter

Targa is a touring sensation

Maybe you want that slightly softer side, though. The Targa GTS fills that role spectacularly. The best-of-both-worlds roof setup provides a sensory experience not possible in the buttoned-up coupe.

The driving experience is similar but different, like watching a movie at home after the theater release. The extra weight—some 385 lb (175 kg), largely from that roof and the AWD—does dull the reaction times, but we’re talking fractions. Its Pirellis may lack the outright bite of the coupe’s Goodyears, but the trade-off here is less tire noise.

The engine still sings as sweetly here, an airy rasp that belies its turbocharged nature. When North American models arrive early next year, they’ll sound even better: these Euro-spec testers have the particulate filters required in the Olde World.

Porsche’s PDK is as smooth here as it’s ever been. Left to its own devices it is uncannily good at finding the exact right one of its eight ratios for the task at hand. How many revs you want is determined by the drive mode: Sport Plus for more, normal for less. When puttering around in traffic, it does its thing seamlessly, never showcasing the low-speed jerkiness of other, lesser dual-clutch units.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4 Review: Performance Theater

Interior and goodies

Just as the driving experiences differ, so does the interior ambience between these two GTS models.

The coupe goes hard, with full bucket seats ($5,900 / $6,740 CAD) also meaning it’s a strictly two-seat affair. The seats hold me firmly in place, even if it takes a bit of work to clear the large side bolsters. The fixed-back nature means some will find them uncomfortable on long hauls—I didn’t, but then I didn’t spend multiple hours in them uninterrupted. Look behind those gorgeous carbon shells and there’s a parcel shelf where the rear seats used to be. The coupe features the lightweight package, which includes the rear seat delete, as well as lighter side and rear glass. There’s more weave around the interior, and almost anything that isn’t CF or leather is Alcantara, including the steering wheel. Carmine Red details like the stitching, tachometer and seatbelts lift the otherwise business-like interior.

On the flip side, the Targa is more luxurious. Its leather/Race-Tex seats feature 18 ways of adjustment, making them more forgiving. The wheel swaps back to leather here, too.

In both cars, the ergonomics are as impeachable as ever, with a low-slung position and a steering wheel properly close. The rim does still block the view of the outer-most digital dials, however. Visibility is all-around excellent, too. Stitched GTS logos in the headrests are the biggest tell you’re in something a pinch more special.

Sitting in the center of the dashboard is Porsche’s latest PCM 6.0 infotainment system. It’s quicker and easier to use than before, and for the first time in a Porsche, it includes support for Android Auto in addition to the usual Apple CarPlay. I’d love to go into more detail on the inner-workings of the infotainment, but when presented with these sorts of driving roads, my focus was on, well, driving. Hey, you’d do the same thing.

Dollars and sense

What price does the sweet spot of the 911 range command? The coupe starts at $138,050 ($158,150 CAD), including destination. For those keeping score at home, that’s a little north of $10,000 dearer than a 911 Carrera S, on either side of the border. This particular example has more options ticked than you’ll find corners at the Nürburgring. The final tally is $178,440 ($198,280 CAD), which just eclipses a 911 Turbo. You’d need to spend thousands more to match the spec, though.

The Targa is richer still, starting at $158,150 ($175,200 CAD). Its option list is slightly shorter, but we’re still talking a little shy of $194,000 as equipped ($215,700 CAD).

At these heady prices, potential buyers will be cross-shopping the Audi R8, Aston Martin Vantage, and Jaguar F-Type.

Verdict: 2022 Porsche 911 GTS First Drive Review

The 2022 Porsche 911 GTS is not a very surprising car. That may sound anti-climactic, but it isn’t: the GTS has long served as an important half-step between the “regular” 911s and the bonkers Turbo. It does the same job here for the 992-generation model, offering up more drama and exclusivity without the associated price tag of the big-T Turbo, at least before options. No amount of optioning on an S would match this, either.

What elevates the GTS is the breadth of experiences it offers. A Targa GTS with the PDK is a sweet boulevard cruiser, equal parts friendly and communicative. Meanwhile the GTS coupe, at least in two-seat, three-pedal form, can provide thrills near to those in a GT3. Ease off, and it’s just as comfortable and cossetting as the entry-level model. The 911 GTS is the great all-rounder version of the great all-rounder sports car. Call it a 911++, or the best everyday 911 there is.

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