Love letters: what GTS means to this Porsche stalwart
718 model line manager Jan Roth chats about the new flagship derivatives – and what the GTS badge means to him
Jan Roth has been with Porsche since 1996 and has worked on the 718 since the beginning. As model line manager he characterises the cars by saying “mid-engine sports cars have always demonstrated their advantages on tight corners and hairpin bends”. We quiz him about the new flagship derivatives: the 718 Boxster GTS and 718 Cayman GTS.
Q: So Mr Roth, what's the story behind the three letters "GTS"?
“A: GTS” stands for “Gran Turismo Sport”. This term was coined in the 1960s with the first model to wear the abbreviation – the 904 Carrera GTS, a racing car in the classic sense of the term. Porsche wanted to bring this car to the road and turn it into a vehicle suitable for long-distance driving. The result was the GTS, with added comfort and homologation.
Q: When applied to today’s models, the three letters mean they could actually race on the track?
A: Yes exactly. This is best illustrated by the Cayman and Boxster with their wide spread between tremendous sportiness and everyday usability. In terms of the GTS derivative models today, we approach the design from the opposite angle to that of the 1960s. When the Cayenne GTS was launched onto the market in 2007 as the very first 21st century GTS, we wanted to give it a sportier edge. This was also then rolled out in the Panamera, Boxster and Macan models.
Q: Where does the GTS 4.0 sit in the 718 family ranking?
A: The GTS always comes after the basic and the S model. When we launched the 2.5-litre GTS, we were developing the four-litre six-cylinder engine for the GT4 and the Spyder – the top of the range derivatives of the model series – at the same time. Even in those days, there were considerations to use this engine elsewhere, namely in a slightly downsized version. This evolved into the GTS 4.0, the top model suitable for everyday use, so to speak.
Q: Why doesn’t the 718 model series have a Turbo model?
A: For historical reasons. In the days of six-cylinder engines, we simply didn’t have the space. In any case, above the 718 series we have the 911, which is Porsche’s more powerful sports car. It makes more sense in our view to let our more track-oriented models such as the GT4 and the Spyder lead the field.
Q: How is the 718 model series ranked in the Porsche world?
A: The basic variant of the 718 is the entry-level model into the Porsche world. A relatively large number of buyers then advance to the higher specification variants, the S and the GTS, and then very often the next step is the 911. But statements like these always depend on the specific market.
Q: How do the markets differ?
A: In China, for example, we have an average customer age of 32, by far the youngest, and the highest percentage of women with 56 per cent. China is already one of the largest single markets for the 718. This is partly attributed to the displacement taxation there which is relatively low on the two-litre four-cylinder engine.
Q: What are the top three purchase reasons in the individual markets?
A: In China, our concept has helped us gain an edge over many competitors in this segment. As we are positioned in a segment that is within the financial means of many customers, we hold 80 per cent of the market share in this segment: an utterly amazing figure. Chinese customers state their main reasons for buying the 718 to be exterior design, brand reputation and the “suits my needs” category.
Q: And in the USA?
A: Here, performance is the top priority, followed by exterior design and brand loyalty. In Germany, exterior design is ranked highest and then performance and body type, in other words the two-seater concept with mid-engine. All very similar as you can see.
Q: Going back to the GTS 4.0. How would you sell this model to a potential buyer?
A: It offers a great package with all the options needed to have an optimum sports machine on both the racing track and for everyday use on the road. It also looks great and has an excellent sound courtesy of its six-cylinder engine. Not to mention that the car is also a financially attractive investment.
718 Boxster GTS 4.0: Fuel consumption combined 10.8 l/100 km; CO2 emissions 246 g/km
718 Cayman GTS 4.0: Fuel consumption combined 10.8 l/100 km; CO2 emissions 246 g/km)?