Jekyll & Hyde

AS I APPROACH the 2023 911 Carrera GTS, coated in Carmine Red, the door handles – normally flush with the sculpted doors – spring out to meet my hand as if to say ‘Welcome Mr. Hebert, I hope you’re ready for this.’ And I am.

Scanning over the rest of the exterior of the car, it’s easy to see that this is a special car. Black is the established accent colour for the GTS, and it features across several exterior components. Elements painted in satin black include the lip of the front spoiler, the centre-lock alloy wheels, the GTS script on the doors and rear, and the slats of the rear lid grille. The two tailpipes of the sports exhaust system are black chrome-plated, and headlight rims and daytime running light edging are darkened.

Easing into the driver’s well-bolstered yet comfortable sport seat, and turning the “key” permanently embedded in the dash results in a gloriously raspy symphony of six growling cylinders – and it’s yet another clue that this car is a special variant of the 911. 

“Simplify, then add lightness”

Racing car driver Colin Chapman once said, “Simplify, then add lightness”. With that in mind, this particular GTS has the Lightweight Package – with full bucket seats made of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, lightweight glass in the front, side and rear windows, a lightweight battery, removal of the rear seats, reduced noise insulation – and also includes rear-axle steering. All of this saves about 25 kg – a significant weight savings. The most noticeable of these mods is the reduced noise insulation – you can hear the engine much more prominently than other models. You’ll have to decide for yourself if this a pro or a con – personally I love it.

Flicking the shifter into drive and pulling out of the parking lot, I’m surprised by how relatively docile the car is – one might say Dr. Jekyllish. This could easily be a daily driver. The suspension glides over our too-typical broken pavement, smoothing out the bumps. Modern conveniences like wireless CarPlay/Android Auto, voice commands and navigation with real-time traffic further the feeling of daily drivability.

The GTS feels both light and heavy at the same time. It’s a light, nimble sports car after all, and yet – because of its taut solidity – feels glued to the ground like it weighs a million pounds.

As the sun beams across the interior, it picks up on the red tachometer with the gleaming white GTS lettering in the centre. The sunlight then continues its journey across the dash to land on the matching red chronometer. There are people who disregard the Porsche chronometer – but I’m not one of them. I think it adds a classic yet modern centerpiece at eye-level – and personally I’d rather see that than the big screen TVs popping up on dashboards everywhere. Plus it’s part of an overall upgrade package that also includes additional drive modes, launch control and more.

Switching up the dial on the steering wheel from Normal to Sport transforms the car into Mr. Hyde. It’s a dramatic change that wakes the car up in every respect – from steering to throttle to exhaust tones. This is usually the case with the Sport setting in the 911, but in the GTS, Sport mode turns the car into a bad-ass, wild machine that loves to play.

Graduating from the monotony of the highway to the curvy hills of the Escarpment, Sport mode feels right at home. Although I’m sure the GTS would be very, very capable of navigating Mosport – it is perfectly designed for winding roads.

Going wide open throttle on this magical wildebeest punches a hole in the fabric of space and time to push you back in your seat and quicken your heart rate. At maximum acceleration, it feels like you’re gliding on the surface of the pavement – dancing on air. And yet, when you ask the car to turn, the car finds its grip and changes direction without hesitation.

The all-wheel drive system has a strong rear-wheel bias, allowing the car to express its 911 roots, while providing the sure-footed confidence that only an AWD can offer. Given that we Canadians are blessed(?) with a long winter, it’s nice to be able to get out for drives all year round – and this Carrera 4 mounted with proper winter tires is right at home on (plowed) snowy roads.

Bottom line: the GTS offers two distinct personalities – selectable at your fingertips – in one beautifully capable (and very quick) lightweight machine. </>

2023 911 Carrera 4 GTS
All-Wheel Drive
8-speed PDK Transmission
3.0 L Turbo Flat Six
473 HP @ 6,500 rpm
420 lb-ft Torque @ 2,300 rpm
0-100 KPH: 3.1 seconds

KEY ENHANCEMENTS
Carmine Red Paint
GTS Interior Package
Premium Package
Lightweight Package
Matte Carbon Fibre Trim
Price as Tested: $204K CAD

Review car courtesy of Porsche Cars Canada.

Photography by Christopher Hebert

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