The Porsche 911 is a great car for making memories. While not uncommon – the 911 is one of the most successful sports cars of all time – every experience I’ve had behind the wheel of one has been incomparably unique and sticks in my brain.
My first-ever 911 drive was in a mid-70s model with the nearly forgotten “Sportomatic,” which has two pedals, a vacuum-operated clutch, and a stick-shifted transmission. A rust-free Michigan car with a damp interior and the undesirable trans, I test drove it but declined to buy for the then princely sum of about $4,000. Yes, I am an idiot, but it was the 90s.
Years later, and largely thanks to the easy access provided by the automotive media fleet, I’ve piloted examples from the 996, 997, 991, and 992 generations. I can still remember how light the rear end of a 996 Turbo felt at stupid speeds on a two-lane road near the Michigan lakeshore, despite all that wing. And somewhere I still have the audio file of running through the gears in a 997 GT3 – a sound so arresting I had to send it to all my car nerd friends.
As you’ll read below, my week in the 2022 Porsche 911 GTS will have a special spot in my personal pantheon of Porsche drives and has no doubt been added to the memory banks of my fellow Motor1.com editors, as well. The mid-range GTS would’ve qualified as a supercar back when I was sampling that first Sportomatic – 3.2 seconds to 60 miles per hour and a 193-mph top speed would’ve been nearly unrivaled back then – and today it’s a verified memory machine.
Seyth Miersma, Editor-in-Chief
- Favorite Thing: Surprising Storage
- Least Favorite Thing: Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (And My Own Human Frailty)
I’m poisoning Jack’s 3-year-old mind. By the time he’s old enough to drive legally, we’ll almost certainly have crossed into a world dominated by electric vehicles, car sharing, and general transportation efficiency. Yet, I’m leveraging my access to awesome cars in this last gasp of ICE tech to stuff the boy in the backseat of as many stunning gas burners as possible.
To that end, he and I took the GTS on a road trip across Michigan over an extended weekend. It’s a dreamy thing to drive any 911 over long distances, and getting the kiddo in on the action sweetened the experience considerably.
Of course, hopping into a mid-engine 2+2 coupe with a toddler who’s still in diapers and still sleeps in a crib isn’t as simple as dropping your overnight bag into the backseat. This trip required some planning. First on the list was figuring out if I could fit a portable crib, said crib’s mattress, a beach bag, a snacks bag, a diaper bag, a portable potty (we’re potty training), a duffle bag with all of our clothes, my laptop bag, and various and sundry toys into the compact Porsche.
Oh, and I needed to get Jack in there, too. No mean feat when you consider the relative sizes of the 911 rear seats (extremely narrow and shallow) and your average forward-facing car seat (massive).
Fitting the luggage turned out to be pretty simple. The 911’s 4.6-cubic foot trunk is usefully deep with a large opening and easily swallowed the crib, mattress, potty, and large duffle. The trick here is soft-sided containers and nothing too precious to get squeezed a bit when you drop the front trunk lid. The other bags fit handily in the unused passenger footwell or in the seat behind me. There was even room to spare in the shallow space behind the rear seats and over the engine.
As for the car seat, well, I spent a bucket of money on an excellent, tiny, and overengineered unit from a company called Wayb. The super-slim seat feels like it was made to NASA specs: only about eight pounds and sized perfectly for the 911’s rear chairs. With the passenger seat all the way forward, it was kind of like he was riding shotgun, which made the trip that much sweeter.
Jack and I both loved the ability to drop a gear or two by way of the very good seven-speed manual transmission, and rocket the GTS forward. Whatever weight I’d packed into the nose didn’t seem to have the slightest deleterious effect on acceleration, and the kid kept asking to “make the race car go real fast, Dada.” Like I said, poisoned.
The biggest downside to putting hundreds of miles on a 911 GTS with your baby? I’m going to blame the huge amount of tire roar and churning exhaust note… but the reality is I’m just getting old. When I was younger and childless, driving fast, loud cars everywhere was no problem. This time my ears were ringing for quite a while after I shut the engine off, and Jack had to have his iPad turned to full blast just to hear Dwayne Johnson sing “You’re Welcome” for the 700th time.
The 911 GTS might not be quite as refined a GT car as I’d remembered from previous generations, or I’m just going soft. Either way, the racket was worth it by a long stretch, both for the inspiring backroads driving and for the smiling baby boy at my right elbow.
Clint Simone, Director of Video
- Favorite Thing: Dialed-In Powertrain
- Least Favorite Thing: Exotic Pricetag
I don’t have a baby, but I’m happy to see we have that test covered. My week with a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Convertible took place in Southern California, with a wonderful mix of roads and plenty of smiles. This is one of those cars you think about months after driving. The GTS is a top-tier sports car, offering the best of all words for a roadgoing 911.
During our video review shoot, I was running the car back and forth to get extra footage, and couldn’t help but dig into the throttle enough to feel out the turbos. As the boost kicks in, the GTS really comes into its full self. Porsche says 473 horsepower, but I have driven cars with over 600 that don’t feel as mighty in the moment. And as ever, the PDK automatic is heroic, firing off gears up and down with zero hesitation. If you want the manual, Porsche offers one – but for LA traffic duties, the automatic seems like the way to go for me.
In almost every scenario the engine feels like the right tool for the job. It’s lively and eager to play at high speeds, but with an approachable power band. The GT3 is the most admired model in the range, but that car’s 9,000-rpm redline is only reachable in specific scenarios. Blasting through gears in the GTS is at the ceiling of what is possible on a public stretch of road. As an added bonus, a less spirited drive well return fuel economy numbers north of 20 mpg. This flat-six can do it all.
There’s not a lot that I can hold against the GTS. With unlimited money, it would probably be in my driveway, banana yellow paint and all. The cost is really the only major bummer. My test car has an MSRP of $175,000 which is a lot of money for a car that you can see five times in one day around town. If you want something a little flashier, the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster and Mercedes-AMG SL are priced slightly better and both look the business.
Jeff Perez, Senior Editor
- Favorite Thing: Fantastic Powertrain
- Least Favorite Thing: Harsh Ride With The Wrong Setup
At the risk of echoing Clint’s sentiment about the powertrain, it’s just perfect. The twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six offers just enough power to make you feel butterflies in the pit of your stomach at full tilt, and yet, the 473 horsepower and 420 pound-feet are perfectly obedient at lower speeds. This makes the 911 GTS is a joy to drive around the city, as opposed to the unwieldy, hammer-like grunt of the Turbo S and GT3 models.
With the adaptive PDCC suspension setup and the 18-way power-adjustable Adaptive Sport seats equipped, the 911 GTS is extremely compliant, too. While it still isn’t the softest configuration in the world, still taut enough to take you around a corner better than most, it won’t send you to the chiropractor after too much time in the driver’s seat.
If you don’t opt for the PDCC suspension and/or the 18-way adjustable sport bucket seats, prepare for minor back pain. In my first drive of the 911 GTS coupe with the manual sport buckets and no PDCC, I noted how harsh this car felt. The ridiculously high side bolsters of the seats and the inability to adjust the rear seat back were both annoying, and the lack of cushioning compared to the 18-way Adaptive Sport buckets meant that suspension rigidity was more obvious.
But the great thing about the 911 GTS is how highly configurable it is. If you don’t want that harshness, just get the better seats and the adaptive suspension. If you can live with a bit of back pain for the sake of extra agility, go for it.
Brett T. Evans, Senior Editor
- Favorite Thing: Just A Bit More Of Everything
- Least Favorite Thing: Limited Design Palette
On lazy Sunday mornings, my auto-loving boyfriend and I like to spend pretend money on online car configurators. We’ll set a budget and try to build the best possible vehicle for that cash, and because of our own personal tastes, the results usually skew toward sporty, luxurious performance. We’ve built (virtually, obviously) Audi R8s, Aston Martin Vantages, Corvettes, BMW M cars, Mercedes-AMGs, and myriad others, but more often than not, he or I or both of us end up on the Porsche website for a 911.
That’s because the rear-engined sports car is still the gold standard for accessible everyday performance, a trait proven by a few days behind the wheel of a Racing Yellow Porsche 911 Carrera GTS cabriolet. With 473 horsepower under your right foot, there’s definitely more than enough grunt to get to extra-legal speeds in a hurry, and a firmer suspension relative to the Carrera S helps you keep those speeds up even around corners. So it’s got the performance box ticked.
Then, when it’s time to settle down, you’re rewarded with tight, rich-feeling interior construction, and even my tester’s relatively meager window sticker brought plenty of comfort and excellent cabin materials. The familiar shape yields good forward visibility, which is nice when navigating heavy traffic. And there’s a deep trunk up front to go along with the finely upholstered, seatbelt-equipped cargo area – Porsche calls them rear seats, but let’s be honest, no adult will want to sit back there, especially with the top up.
The GTS also includes some design touches that some will love, but that I kinda hate. Darkened head- and taillight bezels, gloss black accents, and limited wheel selections confine your choices somewhat, and I’m not as big a fan of blackout packages as everyone else seems to be. In my opinion, they make the 911 a bit too flashy and bold, making you the target of the jealous types who make it their mission to cut off fancy cars.
Otherwise, the Carrera GTS is pretty close to perfect. Within the first few minutes of setting off that first day with the car, Noah and I understood why a Porsche 911 is the default sports car choice for many, because it’s just so good. I’m sure I’ll be dreamily revisiting the configurator for years to come.