The 18-way seats in my test car provided great comfort for a multi-hour drive to and from Michigan and the support needed for track driving. Even accounting for a reduction in sound deadening compared to the 4S, the car's overall noise level made it possible to conduct a couple of Bluetooth phone calls and listen to a "Game of Thrones" book on tape with only a little disruption when driving on louder concrete surfaces.
I drove the car 417 miles and got 19 mpg, and that's with a few hot laps on a racetrack.
If I owned this thing, I'd drive it all the time. Well, probably not in winter, though the thought of putting winter tires on it and driving it when the snow isn't too deep is pretty enticing.
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTSEnlarge Photo
It's amazing on a track.
That trip to Michigan was for the annual Midwest Automotive Media Organization Track School at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven. I was there all day as an instructor for less experienced track drivers, but at lunch I snock Porsche on the track for about five laps.
The turbocharged engine is a delight, delivering far more mid-range acceleration than the naturally aspirated engine of old. It rockets this car from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds with the manual transmission, and doesn't have a weak spot across the rev range. The manual shifts easily and positively, with natural clutch action, and when you put the mode selector in Sport+, it provides rev-matched downshifts that are quite helpful on a racetrack.
Dynamically, the 911 is made to handle a track. It's hunkered down and sticks to the pavement like a vacuum cleaner. The steering is quick and precise, and the car turns in crisply. At the limit, the handling is neutral, despite that mass of engine out back, and the optional rear axle steering helps it rotate through Gingerman's tight corners.
Since this car came with the Sport Chrono package, I used the stopwatch to time some laps. I was disappointed that I wasn't able to simply set a starting line and let the system do the work. By the time I figured out that I had to hit the stalk to mark each lap, I was only able to time two laps. My best time was a 1:43.01, which is the fastest I've ever gone around Gingerman. With the chance to get more laps under my belt, I'm sure I could have cut a second or two from that time.
And the best part? You can drive this car to the track in relative comfort, flog it hard, then drive it home, and it will handle the abuse just fine, thank you. That's Porsche engineering for you. Alfa Romeo could learn a thing or two from that.
This is a great swan song for the 991 generation.
It's hard to believe that the 911 generation is soon coming to an end. After driving this car, I don't really see how the next generation can get better. It feels like you are basically driving a race car tub with the engine out back, but the car is compliant, Porsche's suspension magic overcomes what is certainly a naturally tendency toward oversteer, and the turbocharged engine provides willing, tractable power for any need.
In the end, I loved my week in the Carrers 4 GTS, but I didn't love the sticker price. We've called the GTS the car to buy, and we'll stick by that for the better-funded Porsche buyers. But the base 911 has the same basic goodness without as many amenities or performance features for $50,000 less. I'm thinking that's the other 911 to buy.