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FIRST DRIVE: 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS 

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ATLANTA – Since the current eighth-generation Porsche 911, or the 992 as it is commonly known, went on sale in 2019, the Stuttgart-based sports car maker has wasted no time in filling out the model range.

A perusal of the company’s Canadian consumer website reveals 21 variants with more surely to come. The abundance of models backs up what Porsche reps often say about the 911: they can’t build them fast enough.

At any rate, the newest addition to the stable served as the rationale for my recent trip to Atlanta for some much-coveted seat time during a media preview. Of course, I’m talking about the all-new 2022 GTS, which has five models available for order now: two coupes, two cabriolets, and a Targa.

All GTS models are outfitted with a 3.0-litre turbocharged flat six-cylinder engine (473 hp / 420 lb-ft.), that can be paired with either a seven-speed manual or an eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission. Carrera GTS models (coupe and cabriolet) are rear-wheel drive, while Carrera 4 GTS grades (coupe, cabriolet, and Targa) are fitted with all-wheel drive.

The first GTS was introduced 12 years ago as a mid-range variant for the sixth generation 911 (997), with unique styling details and more power than the Carrera, but less than Turbo and GT3 models.

The 2022 model carries that tradition forward, with unique styling cues and more power (23 hp) than both the previous GTS and the current Carrera. New GTS models feature blacked-out trim elements, which include a spoiler lip, centre-lock alloy wheels, engine cover louvres, and GTS script lettering on the lower door panels and at the rear.

Other bodywork elements are part of the Sport Design package and include model-specific trim for the front, rear and side sills, along with darkened headlight rims, daytime running light surrounds, and unique taillights.

2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

On the inside, the GTS receives standard Sport Seats Plus with higher bolstering, along with Race-Tex microfibre trim throughout the cabin, including on the steering wheel rim, door handles, armrests, storage compartment lid, and gear shift lever. The latter has also been shortened by 10 mm for faster shifting.

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The GTS also sports a unique steering wheel with Sport Chrono mode switch, along with Porsche Track Precision app and tire temperature display. Seatbelts and headrests feature GTS embroidery, and an optional interior package adds decorative inserts to the dash and door trim that are finished in a matte carbon material.

Porsche also notes that some cabin sound insulation material has been removed to enhance, “emotive driving acoustics,” which I’ll get to shortly. Less sound insulation also reduces weight, a factor Porsche engineers are focusing on with the GTS. Further to that end, a Lightweight Design package is being made available for the first time on the GTS, which reduces the car’s weight by up to 25 kg (55 pounds) through a variety of weight-saving measures, such as the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) front seats, removal of the rear seats, lightweight glass for the side and rear windows, rear-axle steering, and aerodynamic enhancements.

2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

Mechanically, the GTS uses a suspension set-up derived from the 911 Turbo. It comes standard with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) that offers millisecond damping adjustments based on dynamic driving conditions. PASM is standard on Coupe and Cabriolet models, as is a 10 mm lower ride height. Of note, the PASM used in the Targa 4 GTS is the same as the one found in the Targa 4S.

The GTS also borrows the Turbo’s high-performance braking system alloy wheels (20-inch, front / 21-inch, rear), but Porsche says its standard sports exhaust system is unique.

So, with all that said, how fast is it?

Really fast.

With the extra power from the 3.0-litre turbo flat-six, which is also rated at 15 lb-ft. more than the previous model, the GTS will scoot from rest to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds (Carrera 4 GTS coupe with PDK), which is three-tenths of a second faster than the previous model.

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2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

As one might imagine, the foregoing makes the GTS an absolute blast to drive.

For mid-September, the weather in Atlanta wasn’t as hot as one might imagine. Daytime highs during my 48 hours in town were mired in the low 70s Fahrenheit (about 22C), with overcast skies and a steady drizzle that morphed into heavier rain at various times during the drive.

Speaking of the drive, the new GTS wasn’t the only car Porsche had lined up. My time was also split wheeling new versions of the Cayenne and Macan (stories coming soon), along with a spicy Cayman T, so my impressions are drawn from limited seat time.

That said, I spent enough time behind the wheel of pre-production European-spec GTS coupe and Targa GTS units to say that they were simply a delight to drive. The former is a Carmine red copy fitted with a manual, while the latter is finished in white with the PDK gearbox.

The drive route wound north from our hotel adjacent to Porsche’s dazzling U.S. head office and Experience Center and the Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta airport to Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery, located in Dahlonega, Georgia, about 90 minutes northeast of Atlanta.

2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

A steady rain accompanied the trek north, so I sadly had to put the roof up on the Targa GTS shortly after clearing the Atlanta city limits. The process was quick, however, and I was soon on my way.

The Targa 4 GTS is comfortable and beautifully finished, both inside and out. Having driven a 2020 911 Carrera last fall, I was familiar with the large digital displays and simplified control schemes of the eighth-gen model, and those positive impressions were reinforced this time around.

Toggling through each of the four drive modes (normal, sport, sport plus, and wet), is blissfully simple and the updated PCM (Porsche Communication Management) system offers easy smartphone pairing (iPhone, in my case) and a touchscreen menu system that isn’t unduly distracting or needlessly fussy.

I was driving in heavy rain on divided highways, so I couldn’t evaluate the Targa’s handling in as much detail as I would have liked, but the abundance of power on tap is impressive and the 3.0-litre turbo flat-six sounds as mellifluous as ever, especially in sport and sport plus. Steering effort and feel are crisp and precise, and power delivery is pin-sharp, but in normal mode, which I used for much of the drive, I found the Targa GTS to be a pleasant highway cruiser. If only it hadn’t rained!

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2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

After lunch, I took the Carmine red GTS coupe out for a short loop drive, which lasted for about 20 minutes – way too short, but enough to get a taste for how great a 911 is with a manual transmission.

Unlike, the Targa, which feels more like a cruiser (as much as any 911 can be), the GTS coupe has the character of a track car, an impression that hit me between the eyes as I awkwardly climbed over its (very) high seat bolstering to get behind the steering wheel.

The straining was well worth it, however, as once ensconced in its cockpit, I immediately took to its precise short-throw shifter, medium-effort clutch and the rocket-like tuning of its flat-six. This thing wants to go fast all the time but given the proliferation of Georgia sheriffs on the mountain roads surrounding the winery and accompanying 35 mph (56 km/h) speed limits, I resisted the urge to independently verify the GTS’ 0-100 km/h time.

However, the twisty two-lane roads offered enough elevation change and sharp turns to give the car’s PASM a good workout, which I was only too happy to oblige. I have to say, that as much as I would have loved to track the GTS coupe, there is still lots of fun to be had slaloming through windy stretches of narrow blacktop in third and fourth gear. Everything I said about the Targa applies here, but with greater intensity and urgency.

Bottom line, it was great fun – just wish I had more time.

A sentiment surely everyone feels after driving a 911.

The writer attended this media drive as a guest of the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.

The post FIRST DRIVE: 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS  appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

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