It’s been a long time since anyone read fairy tales to me, but here’s what I remember about Goldilocks: she did a B&E on the bear’s place and found most of their stuff not to her liking. Their porridge (whatever the hell that is) was either too hot or too cold and their mattresses too firm or too soft. She finally found porridge that was just right and a comfortable bed, just before the bears came home and ate her. Or something like that, but the point of my story is this: when it comes to the Porsche 911, previous models have either been too cold / soft for my tastes (911, 911 SC, Carrera, Carrera 4) or too hot / firm for my tastes (930, 911 GT3). Porsche’s new-for-2011 Carrera GTS, on the other hand, is just right.
I had a chance to drive it, albeit too briefly, at this weekend’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and it’s the very first Porsche 911 that I really liked. Scratch that: it’s the first 911 that I absolutely loved, and I find myself wondering just how much kidneys go for on the black market. I’ve got two, and I really only need one, but I doubt that selling my own kidney to the highest bidder would cover the 911 Carrera GTS’ $113,000 price of admission. Still, it’s hard to believe that 30 minutes behind the wheel was all it took to make me a believer.
First, there’s the engine, which puts out 408 horsepower and makes one of the best exhaust notes to ever come out of Zuffenhausen. In terms of power, that’s 23 more than the 911 Carrera and 27 less than the 911 GT3. It pulls harder than you expect, nearly all the way to redline, and shifts from the six speed manual gearbox are superb. Clutch effort is light, and the car is as easy to drive in stop and go traffic as a Mazda MX-5. Punch up sport mode and find a break in traffic, and the Carrera GTS accelerates with enthusiasm. Zero to sixty comes up in about four seconds, and Porsche says that the tops speed is 190 miles per hour. I didn’t get a chance to verify that, but I see no reason to doubt them. Even the balance is the best I’ve experienced in a 911, with no trace of power on or lift-throttle oversteer.
The Carrera GTS even looks like a bit of a sleeper. From the outside, it’s easy to mistake it for a plain vanilla Carrera, and the subtle increase in stance is hard to see unless you’re parked next to a new Carrera. The Carrera GTS shares a body with the Carrera 4, which is nearly 1.75” wider than a standard Carrera. Like the Carrera, power goes to the rear wheels only, just as Ferdinand Porsche designed the platform some 45 years ago.
The 911 Carrera GTS may be the ideal blend of track day terror and daily driver, and for me it’s the first 911 that feels “just right”. Maybe if I can track down Goldilocks’ agent and get a book deal like she did, I can even afford to put one in the garage.