BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
View the latest news
First Look

Here’s how the new Porsche 911 GTS's ‘T-hybrid’ system actually works

Only the new 992 GTS is a hybrid. Porsche says it makes the best sports car better. But will it?

Published: 28 May 2024

The new 911 GTS is a ‘T-hybrid’ (T for turbo) and achieves 0-62mph in “less than three seconds". Sorry to kick things off with a cold, emotionless number… but isn’t that outrageous? The middle-of-the-range 911 is a 193mph machine. A ten-second car in the quarter-mile. How?

Let’s get into the hybrid bit of the new 992. Only the GTS model is electrified for now, but do you really expect Stuttgart to go to all this trouble and not roll it out across the family?

Advertisement - Page continues below

Know this: it’s not a plug-in hybrid, and it can’t travel on electric power alone. The 27kg battery is a mere 1.9kWh unit the size of a shoebox that lives under the front bulkhead and doesn’t invade boot space. It provides dollops of power to two electric motors.

One lives in the eight-speed PDK gearbox, and delivers a 55 horsepower, 110 foot-pound boost. The other is a 14bhp tiddler and its job is to gee up the turbo. Yes, the turbo, singular. Instead of twin blowers, Porsche binned one and decided on a solo, larger turbo in the new GTS because it spools up so fast thanks to its integrated e-motor. Lag is banished. They’ve got graphs to prove it.

In the old GTS, the graphs said there was a two-second delay between flooring the throttle and maximum torque arriving at the rear wheels. That delay is now half a second. Crikey.

We’ve had a prototype passenger ride, and felt the eerily smooth fury of the power delivery, which arrives with freakish linearity… and just keeps hauling. It’s a vivid blend of EV insta-punch and barrel-chested turbo thrust, with no peaks or voids inbetween. And rapid enough to give full-fat supercars sleepless nights.

Advertisement - Page continues below

The turbo scavenges exhaust heat energy, and does without a wastegate. Even F1 cars aren’t that clever, say Porsche’s boffins. But they stay quiet about any meaningful efficiency gains. When poked and prodded they concede the ‘T-hybrid’ drivetrain saves about 3g/km in emissions and fuel savings are so negligible, you’d never notice.

The reason the electricity is there is to erase turbo lag. Add power. Not increase range.

Obviously it gains weight too: 50kg gained versus the estimated 150kg penalty a PHEV system would’ve added. Porsche insiders admit their desperation to keep the 911 GTS’s mass below 1,600kg. Wouldn’t you know it – the claimed kerbweight is 1,595kg. Bet you there’s a German word for ‘by the skin of your teeth’.

By running a 400-volt electric architecture, Porsche’s big-brains have unlocked unexpected rewards. The high-voltage system takes care of powering the climate control, so the 3.6-litre flat-six no longer needs a parasitic belt drive for the air-con compressor. That not only helps the engine rev faster, but makes it a smaller, slightly lighter powerplant than in the old bi-turbo, belted GTS. As a result, said engine lies 110mm lower in the car’s bowels. Which leaves room for a new lithium-ion ancillaries battery on top.

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

Adaptive suspension reacts more quickly because of the powerful electronic nervous system. Apparently you won’t notice night-and-day handling changes – but you will appreciate the nose-lifter now raises the front in one second flat, instead of five. Steep driveway owners of the world, rejoice.

As you can see, the GTS doesn’t shout “ICH BIN EINE HYBRID” at onlookers. There are no badges or green brake calipers, though you can buy a ‘T-hybrid’ sticker for the door. Ought to be popular in Yorkshire.

How to spot one? The venetian blind shutters in the front bumper are the giveaway, opening and closing on demand to increase cooling or smooth out drag. The intakes are larger because there’s no longer a separate daytime running light up front.

Oh, and when the shutters are closed, Porsche says the brakes stay dry. So if you were to do an emergency stop in a downpour, the new one stops sooner. How German is that?

Inside, there are few clues you’re in the first electrified road-going Porsche 911 since 1963. In fact, you need to delve into the touchscreen to discover the Hybrid display which showcases how the on-board computers are depleting and replenishing the battery. In normal driving the car always aim to maintain a 70 per cent state of charge, so you’re never in a GTS with dead boost. Re-gen braking has been completely overhauled from the Taycan’s ‘never use the discs’ philosophy.

13 minutes

Only when you twizzle the drive mode toggle to Sport Plus does the car say ‘ahh, to hell with it’ and concentrate on emptying the battery ASAP, though it’s been calibrated to last an entire lap of the Nürburgring. The lap time for this mid-range Carrera, on standard tyres, is a scarcely credible 7m 16s.

That’s ten seconds faster than a Carrera GT. In a car with about 80bhp less overall. A big boot. And back seats (which don’t actually come as standard any more. Find out why here).

Prices for the GTS kick off at £132,600, which is £8,393 up on the old non-hybrid and £32,800 more than an entry-level Carrera coupe. You can be relieved of more money by speccing it with a cabrio or Targa top, or all-wheel drive flavour. Oh, the rear-drive car is actually quicker off the line, because the RWD version has unbelievable traction, and it’s lighter. Madness.

So no, it isn’t a styling revolution, because it’s a Porsche 911. But underneath the skin, Porsche’s biggest brains have left almost nothing untouched.

That’s a brave move, given the outgoing 992 was as good – as roundly talented and unflappable – as sports cars got. But that also makes the 911 the biggest scalp in the sports car world, and the likes of Aston Martin and Mercedes-AMG would love to knock that crown off its head. This is how Porsche reckons it stays one step ahead.

More from Top Gear

See more on Porsche

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine