GTS: three letters that, when siphoned together, evoke a strong yet wonderfully nostalgic sporting spirit in the Porsche world. As you’ll know, the legend started more than 50 years ago with the 904 Carrera GTS, a Targa Florio-winning car that gave rise to the infallible 917, and was reignited for the 911 production line in 2010 with the 997 Carrera GTS. A run-out special with high quality options appointed as standard to the specification, a 997 GTS is an exquisite Carrera with genuine sporting intentions.
This is one of our favourites and, if that’s not reason enough for you to fi nd similar endearment with it, just take a look at the classifieds to see its current value. Certainly, no other 997 outside of the GT2/3/RS lineup has enjoyed such refusal to significantly depreciate. Then came the 991 GTS, this time introduced for the fi rst generation. Rolled out across Coupe and Cabriolet body styles in two and four wheel drive along with, for the first time, a Targa variant, worldwide Porsche marketing wasted little time in billing this new GTS lineup as ‘driving purity’.
And, in context with the rest of the first-generation 991 range, there’s a genuine case in favour of that PR slant emanating from Zufenhausen: all are naturally aspirated and have a passive rear axle, with a manual gearbox ofered as standard – a setup you’ll never see roll out of Werk II ever again. However, such a blanket approach to the entire lineup would be naive. The rear driven manual Coupe quickly found favour on our first drive, making it a top choice to any passionate driver’s vision. The Cabriolet is described as an all-wheel drive form with PDK as “evidence in spirit and reality that the GTS badge should be limited to a handful of models rather than the entire 911 line-up.”
There were similar musings too when the Targa was later unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show. Suddenly, Porsche had evolved the GTS moniker into an entire sub-brand within the 911 range, but has it proved the right thing to do? It’s a question that our site needed to investigate, and only a trip to our favourite blacktop in rural North Wales with every current GTS variant would suice. That’s why I find myself sitting at the wheel of a Sapphire blue 991 GTS Cabriolet as I zip along the A55 past Anglesey. The drive has seldom proved arduous though aside for the monotony of multiple motorways, a testament to the 991’s grand touring credentials if nothing else. However, on the proving ground of the Snowdonia asphalt that sits just 20 minutes down the road, an altogether more pressing challenge awaits as our GTS triplets seek to prove themselves as ever-capable sportscars – the final bastions of quintessential Porsche driving purity – and worthy of sitting just below a GT3 in the 991’s model lineup. We turn of the A55 and head south towards Llanberis and its eponymous pass.