In Porsche 911 speak, the GTS label defines a variant that walks the fine line between the everyday useable comfort of the Carrera S, and the much harder edge of its track biased GT3 and RS counterparts.
In the case of the Panamera however, the GTS moniker is applied to a more focused variant that holds the middle ground between the 4S and the autobahn storming Turbo. The extra 20hp and 15Nm that the original GTS made over the 4S came from tweaks to its air intake, camshafts, and exhaust system.
The original GTS was the best drivers’ car in the Panamera range, and we were eager to find out if Porsche had been able to work the same magic on their latest model. Importantly for those who need a bit more load carrying capability, there is also a GTS version of the Sport Turismo.
This means a black background to the headlight lenses, black rear light reflector strip between blacked out taillights, and a black lower valance insert. The 20-inch alloy wheels are also painted black, although alternatives such as black wheels with a polished outer rim, as well as silver wheels are available too.
The dashboard with its big 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen is not just modern but also downright good looking with intuitive control buttons on the centre console. Small details matter in a car of this class and we like the fact that the volume control for the audio system is a practical knurled roller knob rather than one of those silly digital controls that is so hard to work accurately on the move.
The GTS look consists of black leather seats with Alcantara centres, Alcantara headlining, and Alcantara steering wheel rim. A good option to tick the box for is red seatbelts, red stitching for the seats, centre console and dashboard, as well as red GTS lettering in the headrests as this delivers a splash of colour to the otherwise monochromatic trim. The carbon-fibre package provides inserts for the doors, centre-console, and doorsill panel inserts, and adds further perceived value to this high quality cabin.
A new feature introduced for the first time on a Panamera and available as an option on all models is the Head-Up Display (HUD). This allows you to have up to six functions projected onto an area perceived as being 2.3 metres in front of the driver on the road ahead.
THE V8 MOTOR
The deep growl of a bent crank V8 has been a Panamera GTS hallmark from day one and nothing has changed in this respect. But recent emissions and fuel economy demands have resulted in downsizing, and the Panamera 4S is now powered by a twin-turbo V6.
Because V8 power is such a vital part of the GTS hallmark Porsche had to come up with an alternative. The solution was to install a detuned version of the 4.0 litre engine from the Turbo. The engine hardware right down to the turbochargers between the cylinder heads is identical, with the wick turned down via ECU mapping.
The reduction in boost pressure from 1.5 bar to just 0.8 bar gives the GTS motor a significant amount of headroom, and the engineers use some of this to ensure the car is able to maintain its full performance irrespective of altitude.
This means that every single one of the 460 horses will be present and accounted for when you are charging Alpine passes in summer. It also means that the Turbo cooling system is over specified for the GTS engine output, so race track stints or flat out autobahn driving in high ambient temperatures will never be an issue.
The new big numbers are 460hp from 6,000-6,500rpm, with a healthy 457 lb ft (620Nm) of torque between 1,800 and 4,500rpm. With traction off the line helped by the all-wheel-drive system 100km/h comes up in 4.1 seconds, with 160km/h passed in 9.6 seconds, and 200km/h in 15.4 seconds. Top speed is 292km/h.
As with the other engine variants in the current Panamera range there is also a GTS Sport Turismo, so you can have a spacious load carrier with no compromise in driving enjoyment. Tipping the scales at 1,995kg the 30kg heavier and marginally less slippery GTS Sport Turismo (saloon Cd 0.31, ST 0.33) has an identical 0-100km/h time, but takes 0.1 and 0.2 second longer to get to 160km/h and 200km/h respectively, and is 3.0km/h down in top speed.
The new Panamera 4S, GTS and Turbo all use the same ZF eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, with the clutch sized according to power and torque. In line with the power and torque it has to handle the GTS clutch occupies the middle ground, with the 550hp Turbo spec motor mated to the beefiest clutch, and the smallest unit absorbing the output of the 3.0 litre bi-turbo V6. The clutch will thus be the Achilles Heel for aftermarket tuners who want to uprate the GTS motor to Turbo output levels or more.