Porsche 911, with Liam Bird

This month, Liam Bird got behind the wheel of the Porsche 911, one of Europe's Most Recognisable Cars

Porsche 911 Carrera GTS – Driving the Dream

“In the beginning, I looked around and couldn’t quite find the car I dreamed of, so I decided to build one myself” – not my words, but those of Ferry Porsche. In 1948 Porsche hand-built his first car in Gmund, Austria and the rest as they say is history.

Since then Porsche has become synonymous with two things, engineering excellence and the 911, one of the most recognisable cars ever to hit the streets. The latest version of which is this one the 911 Carrera GTS.

Available like all 911s, as both a Coupe, and a Cabriolet, the GTS uses the broader hipped body from the Carrera 4 and couples it with a Powerkit upgraded 3.8 litre version of Porsche’s legendary flat six boxer engine plus a switchable sports exhaust system. As a result power is raised by 22bhp to 402 while torque remains unchanged at 310lbft but becomes available lower down in the rev-range. To help cope with the extra urge Porsche have fitted beautiful 19” centre mount rims, 305 section rear tyres, plus revised springs and anti-roll bars. The exterior benefits from new side skirts and Sport-Design front apron plus of course the all-important Carrera GTS logos on the doors that hark back to the legendary Carrera RS of the early 70’s

Inside there are ever-so comfortable hard-backed sports seats, a liberal smattering of Alcantara, and a near-perfect fat-rimmed steering wheel. Tick all of those boxes on the options list when you’re ordering a Carrera S and Porsche will charge you an extra £8421 for the engine and exhaust upgrades alone, relieve you of a further £3329 for the wheels, and you’ll still be left wanting the interior goodies. However, choose a GTS and they’ll ask for only £2152 more. At £76,758 for the coupe or £85,249 for the soft-top the GTS suddenly begins to makes sense.

It’s on the road though, where the GTS makes the most sense. The steering is beautifully weighted and it communicates in the way only a rear engined car’s can. The stiffer suspension and extra grip from those steam-roller wide rear tyres inspires confidence; traction out of corners is superb, and combination of balance and solidity makes you feel that this is a car that rewards the driver whilst retaining its poise.

There’s a familiar Germanic firmness to the ride but it’s never crashy and even in the Cabriolet I spent time with, road and wind noise were kept to a minimum. However should you want to make the GTS scream, you only need to flex your right ankle. 0-60mph is covered in a whisker over 4 seconds, overtaking is effortless, and they say it’ll do 190!

Despite its super-car qualifying performance, the GTS never feels intimidating.  Its compact dimensions, slim pillars and almost conventional driving position – it’s even got a decent sized boot – mean that in traffic it feels as easy to drive as a Golf .Especially if, like this car it’s been fitted with PDK.

The snappily titled Porsche DoppelKupplung is the optional automatic gearbox that employs not one clutch but two. As the ratios are selected all you’ll feel is a change in engine revs as road or traffic conditions change. If you’re in a hurry, all you’ll feel is relentless acceleration.

Call me old fashioned, but I’d prefer a manual, and even though I appreciate the Cabriolet I’ll take a Coupe please, maybe, in dark green or blue, or possibly white. 18 or 19 inch rims? Hmmm…… for some of us the Porsche dream continues.

Many Thanks to Porsche Centre Chester for the loan of the 911 Carrera GTS

Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet
3800cc 24V flat six.
Transmission:  7 speed PDK Automatic with manual option, rear wheel drive.
Power: 402 bhp @7300rpm
Torque: 310lb ft @-4200 -56000rpm
0-62MPH: 4.6 Sec
Max Speed: 190mph
CO2: 250g/km
MPG: 26.6 (combined)
Price: £85,249

Are you experienced?

If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the £85,249 that Porsche ask for the GTS Cabrio but you crave a drive in a 911 then a YouDrive Course at The Porsche Driving Experience alongside Silverstone’s world famous Hangar Straight might just be what you need.

Starting with an hours discussion on advanced driver theory with Fifth Gear’s Vicki Butler Henderson in which you’ll discover just how much you know, and just how much you thought you knew about the correct way to drive YouDrive then lets you put your own car through it’s paces on both Porsche’s Kick-plate and their Ice- Hill.

Designed to simulate driving on ice the Kick-plate allows you to learn how to correct the effects of over-steer without ruining your tyres or any- ones garden fence. The Ice Hill allows you to learn how to control a car whilst driving down hill on a surface more suited to Torville and Dean. It’s not easy, believe me; under-steer, and over-steer in equal measure is the order of the day, but eventually, with encouragement you’ll get down without embarrassment.

Get all that right and they’ll let you loose in a 911 on their handling circuit. All for less than the price of a back tyre on a GTS, what more do you need to know?

PorscheYouDrive £165 www.porsche.co.uk/experience

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