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2022 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS First Test: The Best Reason Not to Buy a GT3?

The 911 GTS is the way to go if you’re looking for extra performance but don’t want to pay GT3 prices.


Aaron Gold | Writer; Brandon Lim | Photographer | Mar 24, 2022

From our very first drive last year, the 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS impressed us with its blend of performance and civility—the perfect middle ground between the entry-level Carrera and the high-end Turbo and GT3 models. At least, that's what we said before we took it to the test track. Now that we've seen the numbers, we stand corrected: The word "middle" does a disservice to a car that performs like this.

Before we dive into the numbers, a quick refresher: Porsche offers five 911 GTS models, situated right in the middle—whoops, sorry—of the 22-model-strong 911 lineup. All share a 473 hp, 420-lb-ft version of the company's 3.0-liter horizontally opposed twin-turbo six-cylinder, with an eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic as standard equipment and a seven-speed stick as a no-cost option.

The version we tested was the middle of the middle (damn, this is more difficult than we thought): the Carrera 4 GTS, with all-wheel drive and a fixed roof. The rear-drive Carrera GTS coupe and Cabriolet sit beneath it; the AWD GTS 4 Cabriolet and semi-convertible Targa 4 GTS are above, at least in price. The Carrera 4 GTS is priced at $145,350, $18,400 less than the GT3 and just a bit more than $31,000 less than a 911 Turbo. Options including Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control ($3,170), rear-wheel steering ($2,090), and Carmine Red paint ($3,270) brought our test car's as-tested price to $169,330.

Porsche says this version of the GTS—all-wheel drive and PDK—is the quickest, with a 0-60 time of 3.1 seconds, a pretty serious number for what is supposed to be the midlevel model. That said, we know from experience that Porsche's acceleration figures tend to be conservative. We were pretty sure we'd get a quicker time, and man, did we ever.

In our very first acceleration run, the 911 GTS made it to 60 in just a hair more than 3 seconds, with a wiggle from the back end indicating the tires were still cold. As the rubber warmed up, the times tumbled, and we recorded a best figure of 2.8 seconds. Yowza! A $197,670 PDK-equipped GT3 we recently tested did the run in 2.7.

But surely, given more space, the GT3 would have walked away from the GTS, right? Wrong, at least in terms of straight-line acceleration. With its higher turbo count—two versus zero for the GT3—the GTS blasted through the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds at 126.7 mph—again, 0.1 second (and 1.2 mph) behind the GT3.

This is a marked improvement compared to the previous-gen 911 GTS. Although we didn't have an all-wheel-drive tin-top in for testing last time around, we did get numbers on a rear-drive GTS coupe and an all-wheel-drive Targa 4 GTS, both with the PDK. They made the 0-60 run in 3.0 and 3.1 seconds, respectively, with quarter-mile times of 11.3 seconds at 123.5 mph and 11.4 seconds at 120.8 mph.

Braking has always been a 911 strength, and the GTS did not disappoint, drawing down from 60 mph in 99 feet. Still, that was 6 feet longer than the GT3 with carbon-ceramic brakes. Pedal feel was outstanding, and even with a bit of fade imparted by repeated stops from 125 mph, we got all the feedback we needed to compensate.

On the skidpad, the 911 Carrera 4 GTS produced an average lateral load of 1.09 g, and it circled our figure-eight course in 22.7 seconds at 0.91 g. This is where the track-tuned GT3 shows its advantage: Its figures were 1.15 g on the skidpad and a figure-eight time of 22.3 seconds at 0.95 g. To put things in perspective, however, the new GTS' handling figures were comparable to the previous GT3's. On top of that, its consistency stood out; our lap times were all within a tenth of a second of each other. That doesn't happen by accident, and it's easy to find the limit and maintain it, over and over again.

Drive the 2022 911 Carrera 4 GTS on a twisty road and you'll echo a similar sentiment, as it's an utter delight. Despite delivering power to both axles, the Carrera 4 still has enough power to slide the tail. If you like trail-braking, you're in good company, because the GTS loves it, too. Indeed, understeer is generally not an issue in the 911 GTS' world, as it tends to let go from the back, if it lets go at all. Of course, the days are long gone when a sloppy 911 driver could expect to be flung tail first off the side of the road—better living through electronics, right?—but the GTS will slap your wrists or, more precisely, your butt if you're too jerky with your inputs.

Drive well, though, and you're rewarded with grip and balance that defy belief, not to mention the 911's lovely flat-six soundtrack. And while it's incredibly good fun to push the car as hard as you dare, it's no less enjoyable to dial back to six-tenths and cruise through the curves. Porsche has distilled the 911 driving experience to the point the company could practically bottle it, and every drive in the 911 GTS is a joy, be it a long run through a curvy canyon or a quick run down the street to the grocery store.

As the saying goes, familiarity is bound to generate some modicum of contempt, and a few more days of seat time reminded us of a few 992-generation faults. Most annoying among them is probably the ultra-wide cluster, the outer digital gauges of which are partially blocked by the steering wheel. Porsche loyalists will no doubt point out the big center-mounted analog tachometer is all that really matters; we'll point out that even a $14,000 Mitsubishi Mirage gives its driver an unobstructed view of the fuel gauge. And then there's the tiny frunk and nearly imaginary back seat, but can we even call those flaws in a 911? At this point, they're simply traditions.

For those contemplating which 911 to buy, we feel duty-bound to mention the GTS does ride a bit harder than lesser Carrera models, but we'll never call it objectionable. The 911 GT3 is the more amazing vehicle on the track—it won our first-ever Performance Vehicle of the Year award—but daily-driving one is overkill for some people. The GTS is the higher-performance model you can live with, and as our testing proved, its day-to-day comfort comes with only the narrowest non-track-driving performance penalty. If this is the 911's middle ground, then the middle is an amazing place to be.

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