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The original Carrera GTS from 2011 was a highlight of Porsche 911 history. A special edition of swansong for the ‘997’ model, it combined the best tracks from other 911s into one perfectly resolved package. Even noted Porsche detractor Jeremy clarkson described it as “a great experience”.

Ben Pulman of CAR review agreed, calling the £ 76,758 sports car a ‘good deal’. And so it would prove. A decade later, the average asking price for a 997 Carrera GTS is still around £ 75,000. They just haven’t depreciated. After such a promising start, it was perhaps inevitable that the GTS would quickly become a staple in the 911 lineup: halfway between the Carrera S and the GT3. So, with a new version of ‘992’ on the streets, I drove all three cars back to back to see if the GTS remains the ideal solution.

The latest Carrera GTS is a true lineup of cars on its own, available in two or four-wheel drive, and in coupe, convertible or Targa bodywork. I chose to keep it simple with a rear-wheel-drive coupe – and a seven-speed manual gearbox (no-cost option), rather than the paddle-shift PDK.

With a turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six, the 480PS GTS is perfectly equidistant from the 450PS Carrera S and 510PS GT3. However, its chassis upgrades owe more to the 581bhp 911 Turbo, such as adaptive PASM shocks, auxiliary springs for the rear axle, and Turbospec brakes. An optional lightweight package adds thinner glass and throws in the rear seats, but the 25kg economy is modest on a 1,545kg car.

Visually, the Carrera GTS stands out with a 10mm ride height, black chrome accents (including roll bar on Targa models) and black center-locking wheels. The darker theme continues inside, where the Sport Chrono package – offering Sport, Sport Plus and Individual riding modes – comes standard.

I’m starting with the Carrera S at £ 94,350. After 57 years of evolving the 911, its manners are pleasant, its talents accessible, but its sheer speed (0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds) is not to be underestimated. This second-tier 911 blurs the line between luxury GT and sports car, going from calm to aggressive depending on your mood. Drive him in isolation and you don’t want anything more.

There’s more, however, and it carries a ‘GTS’ badge and a price tag of £ 108,920. The new car feels sportier from the get-go, with grippy Race-Tex suede on the seats and steering wheel, along with a chunkier shifter for quicker shifting. Even at low speeds, its suspension is tense and tightly controlled, like a tight muscle ready for action.

This extra 30bhp token only reduces 0-62mph time by 0.1 seconds and is rarely noticeable on the road. But the way this 911 rolls, steers, and stops is a step up. It feels more intense, more alive and ultimately more fun, with slingshot pull and a zen calm that promotes total confidence. Granted, you sacrifice a bit of comfort over the Carrera S, but the rewards are well worth it.

Even so, I saved the best for last – didn’t I? Well, yes and no. The £ 123,100 GT3 takes the 911 deep into supercar territory. From its rigid-backed bucket seats to the enormous wing that divides your rear view, it feels mercilessly fit for purpose. The double-wishbone front suspension lends newfound agility, while its ferocious, naturally aspirated engine pushes you, over and over again, in the red paintwork of 9,000 rpm.

Head to the North wales where the Nurburgring and the GT3 reign supreme. But its investment potential, not to mention its difficult driving and aversion to speed bumps, means you’d be hesitant to drive one to work. The Carrera GTS delivers a “beautiful experience” with every trip, so the total sum of your enjoyment can be greater. It’s the Porsche 911 I would choose.

Tim pitt written for motoringresearch.com

(c) 2021 City AM, source Newspaper

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