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We drove the $120,000 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS to see if it was worth the price -- here's the verdict

Hollis JohnsonLookin’ sharp.
  • The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is both powerful and expensive.
  • But given the performance on offer, it’s worth it.
  • There’s a reason why the 911 is considered by many to be the greatest car ever made.

We like Porsches at Business Insider, and we especially like the legendary 911. In continuous production for over 50 years, it’s an icon.

Porsche makes numerous different versions of its rear-engined sports-car stalwart. One of the more noteworthy is the 911 Carrera GTS: it ain’t cheap, but it has a lot of oomph under the hood.

We borrowed one from Porsche for a few days and did our best to grapple with its glories without the benefit of a race track. The New Jersey suburbs and the mean street of New York City had to be enough. Here’s how it went:

Photos by Hollis Johnson.


Our Porsche 911 Carrera GTS test car landed in Midtown Manhattan wearing an absolutely dashing Carmine Red paint job. That $US3,000-plus option, along with a few additional extras, brought the sticker price up to $US129,000.

Hollis Johnson

The distinctive Porsche fascia — you either love it or hate it. Some call it “bug-eyed.” I call it a masterstroke of design that’s been with us for ever 50 years.

Hollis Johnson

The 911 once brought with it a sort of featherweight-boxer style, and sort of still does with the base models. But once you move up the cost ladder, the car gives off a burlier vibe.

Hollis Johnson

The overall stance of the 911 GTS is what …

Hollis Johnson

… a lot of folks would term “athletic.”

Hollis Johnson

Check out those fat red brake calipers and ventilated brakes discs. They provide ample stopping power. Also note that the front end can be raised to preserve the aerodynamic elements (they don’t like New York potholes). The rear can also be lifted.

Hollis Johnson

It’s impossible to talk about a 911 without getting into the offbeat placement of the engine.

Hollis Johnson

By the way, what do you think of the extremely narrow, almost slit-like tail lights? Personally, I think they contrast a bit too much with the headlights.


It’s mounted at the rear, over the drive wheels. Yes, just like an old VW Beetle. This design “flaw” has been progressively addressed by Porsche over five decades, making the 911 bit idiosyncratic — and singularly brilliant.

Hollis Johnson

The spoiler will extend automatically if you top 75 mph (my colleague Ben Zhang calls it a freeway-cop alert) and retract below 50 mph.

Hollis Johnson

What we have hidden away back there is a 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged, flat-six boxer engine, cranking out 450 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. The power is piped through, in this case, a seven-speed stick. Our GTS was rear-wheel-drive.

Hollis Johnson

The legendary Porsche badge.

Hollis Johnson

That rear haunch hides a substantial hunk of rubber. But even with that much tire width, I was able to feel some wheel slip when throttling aggressively. Our tester also had rear-axle steering, a $US2,000 extra.

Hollis Johnson

Let’s slip inside.

Hollis Johnson

The cockpit is luxurious but no-nonsense — black Alcantara, brushed metal, and a purposeful steering wheel.

Hollis Johnson

You get the idea. Maybe BMW isn’t the ultimate driving machine.

Hollis Johnson

If you’re riding shotgun, it kind of all about watching somebody drive a Porsche. There is no substitute.

Hollis Johnson

The gauges are analogue and the tachometer is front and center. The engine redlines at 7,500 rpm.

Hollis Johnson

The speedometer plays second fiddle. But that’s OK. You knew you were going fast.

Hollis Johnson

Driving modes are managed using this small knob. I kept it in Sport for the most part. Sport Plus maximizes the madness.

Hollis Johnson

The shield is an inspiring thing to look at, classic and reassuring. These guys know what they’re doing.

Hollis Johnson

The aforementioned seven-speed manual. I think anything more than five is pointless, but the extra gears do help get the fuel economy up to 18 mpg city/26 highway/21 combined. You can also opt for a dual-clutch automatic.

Hollis Johnson

Messing with these buttons enables you to firm up the suspension, open up the exhaust note, switch off the traction control, and raise and lower the vehicle and the spoiler. There’s also an auto stop-start and idle, which cuts down on emissions and enhances MPGs.

Hollis Johnson

Perhaps more buttons that one might want, but you can control features without taking your eyes off the road. The seats are heated.

Hollis Johnson

If you look closely, you can see the 911 GTS’s silliest feature. Can you spot it?

Hollis Johnson

Yes, it’s the infamous Porsche 911 swing-out cupholders. I wouldn’t trust them to hold much of anything.

Hollis Johnson

Finally, the center dashboard clock. So you can time your 0-60 mph runs and see if Porsche is right about it taking less than four seconds.

Hollis Johnson

Yes, the 911 GTS has a back seat.

Hollis Johnson

The 2+2 coupé layout is famous — and famously cramped. Little kids will be OK. Adults not so much. Think of it as a place to toss expensive outerwear.

Hollis Johnson

The center infotainment screen is fairly diminutive, but this is a Porsche 911 after all — a sports car where the focus is meant to be the road ahead.

Hollis Johnson

That said, the system provides everything you’d expect, from navigation to …

Hollis Johnson

… entertainment (the 150-watt audio setup sounds quiet good) to …

Hollis Johnson

… vehicle diagnostics. Bluetooth connectivity, along with USB ports, is also present.

Hollis Johnson

Can’t forget about the frunk! No engine up there, so room for … well, for an overnight bag.

Hollis Johnson

So what’s the verdict?

Hollis Johnson

The 911 Carrera GTS, at almost $US130,000 as-tested, is pretty darn expensive. Our rear-wheel-drive coupé version stands at the peak of what you might think of as the “first tier” of 911s. Move to the next tier and you’re looking at the pricier Turbo and a bump of 100 horsepower.

But for your dollars, you’re getting some epic performance. I honestly think that 450 horsepower is too much – the entry-level Carrera’s 370 is fine by me – but there’s no debate that it’s fun to feel the GTS get those ponies to the pavement. If anything, the the 450-hp motor punches above spec. It’s ferocious enough that it feels like it has more. No kidding.

The thing is fast, but straight-line velocity isn’t what 911s are all about. This is a car you’re meant to relish driving, and I did. Porsche 911s aren’t without their challenges, as I found during a speedy highway merge on cold tires when back end got jittery. But for the most part, the GTS, like all 911s, is a car that guides you in driving it.

It’s almost as if you can work the throttle and the steering and combine your inputs to plot exactly the vector you want through corner. The GTS will lead you through. That’s bonding, and no car does it better than the 911. Thank the glory of MacPherson front struts and an anti-roll bar fore and aft, with a multi-link rear suspension. Even though this is a lightweight car at just over 3,ooo lbs. (weight gets added if you check the all-wheel-drive or dual-clutch options), it always feels solid.

In GTS trim, with all that lag-less, linear pop under the hood, you can get on it an begin to sense this Porsche’s wild side. And made no mistake, it has one. On a track, one could easily enjoy the GTS’s more explosive elements, and that’s why it’s sort of a bargain, even at $US120,000 MSRP. You’re simply getting an epic amount of vehicle for the investment.

With great power comes great responsibility, in this case to your bank account. But let’s face it: you aren’t going to be sorry. The GTS is just that good.

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