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Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Coupe Drive Review : Abstract Art

David Khoo
David Khoo • 8 min read
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Coupe Drive Review : Abstract Art
Porsche 992.2 Carrera GTS Coupe Slate Grey Neo / PHOTOS BY Porsche
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Porsche interprets the hybrid powertrain in inimitable “t-hybrid” style with the 992.2 Carrera GTS – its first road-legal hybrid 911

Malaga, Spain - Apart from its proximity to the Ascari Race Resort, we learn that Malaga is also the birthplace of abstract art maestro-maverick Pablo Picasso.

We are here for the launch of the 992.2 iteration of the Porsche 911, arguably one of the world's most evocative and enduring cult automotive icons, with an instantly recognisable silhouette that has seen it ingrain itself into pop culture consciousness.

Beyond that, it is also a bit of a maverick — like Picasso himself — and manages to ignite the passions of Porschephiles around the world.

See also: Porsche Experience Centre Singapore opens in 2027

It is particularly abstract with the 992.2 because it is still hard to believe that a Porsche 911 has gone hybrid in our lifetime as the brand introduces the t-hybrid-powered Carrera GTS.

See also: Porsche announces new hybridised 911 Carrera GTS for 992.2

Like Picasso’s abstract masterpieces, understanding and appreciating the t-hybrid system in the latest Carrera GTS requires some introspection and plenty of driving because it is not as straightforward as it seems.

For starters, Porsche did not bother turning the Carrera GTS into a plug-in hybrid, nor is the t-hybrid system capable of electric-only drive.

Porsche's “hybridisation” objective is to deliver the sort of hard-hitting, dynamic performance 911 purists have become accustomed to, with lower CO2 emissions as a happy consequence.

It is also interesting that the GTS is making its debut alongside the C2 at the 992.2's debut. Traditionally, the GTS is launched after the base models have made their rounds.

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Introduced for the 911 range during the type 997 generation, the Carrera GTS model has always been regarded as the sweet spot of the Carrera range.

It is sporty without the uncompromising performance of the hardcore GT models, yet retains a modicum of luxury and comfort that ensures it can be daily-driven. 

The t-hybrid drive at the heart of the new GTS is underpinned by a 400V battery, which works in harmony with the familiar flat-six 3.6-litre engine — no politically correct downsizing here.

An electric motor is integrated into the single turbocharger between the turbine and compressor that all but eliminates turbo lag while another motor is integrated into the 8-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox to provide additional drive torque of up to 150Nm and a 40kW (about 54hp) maximum power output.

True to the Porsche form, the motorsports-inspired t-hybrid system is compact and lightweight.

At 1670kg (EU kerbweight), the new GTS weighs just 50kg more than its ICE (Internal combustion engine) predecessor — and this is in spite of the new car’s additional standard equipment, which includes rear-axle steer.

However, we should also qualify that the default configuration for the 992.2 is now a two-seater, with 2+2 an option. This means weight savings also factor in the deletion of the rear seats.

If purists had their way, every generation of the 911 would be like the last, but this is not how technology, progress and evolution work.

Having said that, every major evolution in the 911’s life cycle has led to huge flames of grumble-grousing.

In fact, we would not blame the Porsche product and engineering team for taking a break from social media and the Internet in the week following any new 911 announcement!

Just off the top of our heads, the drama raged on these occasions: When 356 first evolved into 911 sixty-one years ago, air-cooled became water-cooled from the 993 to the 996 and then again when "Mezger" engines fully made way for direct-injection engines after the 997. 

In more modern times, turbocharged engines replaced naturally-aspirated ones in the Carrera models (from 991.1 to 991.2), the GT3 and GT3 RS became PDK-only in the 991.1, with Porsche then responding to the ire and reversing this decision to offer only the GT3 in both manual and PDK from the 991.2 onwards.

There is so much conflict and challenge with every evolution because of how passionate the legion of Porsche fans is, but you know what? We still love the brand.

The way every Porsche drives, as well as the technology used in the cars demonstrate the brand always has its finger on the pulse of every petrolhead and believe us when we say this is no exception with the GTS.

There is no fakery, feints or fluff with the brand, and this is particularly so with regards the cult 911 model.

However, if you are a hard-nosed purist, there is quite a bit to pick on with the new 992.2. For starters, the starter turnkey is now an engine start/stop button.

Also, the instruments are fully digital and for the GTS t-hybrid model, there is likely no more manual transmission option due to the integrated electric motor in the PDK gearbox.

All the front light elements have been integrated into the Matrix LED headlights, which creates space for larger cooling vents at the front of the car.

In particular, the active aerodynamic Darth Vader-style flaps in the lower bumper of the GTS are a bone of contention, with enthusiasts vacillating between loving and loathing it.

They close when power requirements are low to improve aerodynamics but open during maximum attack mode.

To counter additional front lift with flaps open, additional aero elements that deploy from underneath to keep the car properly planted when you are pressing hard are added.

At the rear, the redesigned engine lid now features integrated air intakes.

The GTS also sports a GTS-specific sports exhaust as standard, which is neatly integrated into the rear diffuser. And that glorious mechanical soundtrack accompaniment is hugely addictive.

As it rises in intensity towards the 7,500rpm redline, its sonic signature is not quite that of a naturally-aspirated flat-six nor a conventional turbocharged flat-six, but intensely thrilling and unique to the hybridised GTS.

With the Carrera GTS, it is as much emotional art as it is art in motion and truth be told, we were sceptical of the new car’s performance … until we drove it.

Eased slowly out of the pit lanes of the Ascari Race Resort circuit, the GTS is perfectly docile and tractable, with not a single hint of the howling mayhem it is capable of unleashing.

As the lead 911 Turbo S picks up pace on the straight, we put pedal to metal in the GTS t-hybrid and are completely unprepared by how this translates instantly to "scalded cat" responses and a seamless surge of furious forward propulsion.

In full "beast mode", the acceleration is of the warp drive, “make-it-so” variety, with reality blurring as the scenery descends into kaleidoscopic chaos.

I had to cling on to the steering wheel for a moment as my mind sought to make sense of what had just happened, even as I was hot on the tail of the 911 Turbo S lead car.

Don’t get me wrong, I have driven more powerful cars, but even on the best-tuned cars, we are used to a trickle of thrust before the tsunami onslaught arrives. With the GTS, it is how brutally and instantly the 541hp and 610Nm sucker punches us that boggles the mind.

The rear-drive GTS is light on its feet, delightfully agile and, best of all, remains engagingly analogue to allow you to carve up every apex with the murderous intent of a sniper's pinpoint accuracy.

With the eTurbo's power band, it is on-boil and on-tap throughout the circuit, so there's never the dithering you'd get from a rookie military section, just the savage, surgical strike of a rapid response team.

Rear-axle steer is standard, which aids with turn-in for the rear-engined, rear-drive GTS coupe and helps slake this carnivore's bloodlust for the Ascari track's many meaty corners.

Despite the storm of fire and brimstone from the GTS's powerplant, you quickly discover it is possible to put the power down from early on.

Thanks to the upsized 315-section rear rubber and accompanying downforce, there's a sure-footedness and supernatural grip that impart huge confidence when you are laying tracks with full-throttle ferocity into every corner.

Although the GTS is engineered to aid, abet and acquiesce to one's go-faster tendencies, it won't suffer fools gladly. Pull the entitled card to take liberties with the GTS and it will quickly school you in the laws of physics.

With the 992.2, Porsche has successfully harnessed and tamed the savage fury of the hybrid system for its go-faster application in the GTS.

We reckon this should bode well if the brand ever decides to implement it in the top-shelf 911 Turbo / Turbo S models — after all, 2024 is the 50th anniversary of the 911 Turbo...

Now, how's that for an abstract thought?

PORSCHE 911 CARRERA GTS COUPE

Engine 3591cc, flat-six, turbocharged
Battery, 1.9kWh, 400V
System Power 541hp at 6,500rpm
System Torque 610Nm at approx. 2,000rpm–6,000rpm 
Transmission 8-speed PDK dual-clutch
0–100km/h 3secs
Top speed 312km/h

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