Latest suave lines of Porsche evolution

For a company that, for the vast majority of its 70 years has offered just one model, there's an amazing amount of nuance and variety across Porsche's fabled 911 range.

While the casual observer might not appreciate the differences, there are no fewer than 21 variants of this archetypal sports car, each with its own target market and each with its own pros and cons (OK, not many cons).

Five variants bear the GTS motif beneath the maker's name on the rear boot lip, including the model tested here - the 911 Carrera GTS Coupe.

It might sound like it's over-catering for a confused market, but the opposite is actually the case. Porsche buyers are, by and large, the most informed, discerning and detail-oriented car buyers of them all.

The core product is, and has always been, exhilarating performance and sheer driving joy in a car that looks, feels and behaves like a modern classic.

Everything else is an afterthought which, it must be said, affords buyers the luxury of choice in just about every facet.

Sunroof? Certainly. How about a cabriolet? Or a targa?

Turbo or not? Or twin-turbo, if preferred.

All wheel drive or two? Manual or automatic?

A dab of luxury. Or just the "basics" to keep weight down and performance high.

Pricing is just as diverse, from the cheapest, unadorned 911 Carrera Coupe ($241,200 plus on-road costs), right up to the flagship 911 Turbo S Cabriolet ($502,500).

Tested here is the model generally considered to be the "mid range" value pick of the 911 crop. The Carrera GTS - interestingly the only model of 21 to offer a seven-speed manual transmission. Every other model gets the eight-speed doppelkupplung (dual clutch) self-shifter.

Each Porsche model offers a GTS variant, all with blinding performance and impressive comfort.

The 911 GTS acceleration is staggering.

From a standing start it scrabbles and scampers on any loose surface before launching itself at the horizon. And then the fun starts.

It's not just the 3.3 seconds it takes to reach legal maximum speed on a road. At this point the wondrous twin-turbo six is just warming up.

Beyond that point, the twin exhausts emit what can only be described as a symphonic wail as scenery becomes rather blurry.

Then, just as the horizon looms near, it's heavily onto the brakes to avoid running out of tarmac, to the tune of a snapping, crackling, popping return to some form of normality.

Not that there's anything vaguely "normal" about this car.

But there's nothing superfluous, either.

Yes, it's inevitable that some people won't be able to see $334,000 (plus on-roads) worth of value in this iconic, pure performance machine. It fits only two people, and a relatively limited amount of cargo.

This latest edition brings a slight massaging of one of the most unmistakable and timeless silhouettes anywhere in the automotive world

Same goes for the way it performs and, perhaps most uniquely, the way it sounds.

Three litres, six cylinders and two turbochargers deliver a rather lively 353kW, 570Nm and a spine-shivering blast from its twin exhausts. A long list of electronics help keep it on the road.

Sit inside the 911 and the hefty price tag becomes difficult to justify.

It's certainly not particularly luxurious, although the GTS is impressively compliant to drive and way more comfortable than models like the racing-bred GT-3, for instance.

That is, of course, after the driver has lowered themself into that cockpit until skimming along with trousers no more than 50mm above the asphalt.

The driver-angled cockpit is the place from where the true theatrics are controlled. The sound. The smell. The looks. The balance.

And, of course, the acceleration. Three parts exhilarating, two parts just a little bit scary.

Then, finally, mercifully the brakes - all 408mm discs at the front, and 380mm at the rear, take over.

The cockpit has very little in terms of adornment. There is the chronograph clock that sits, recessed into the upper middle of the dash. Otherwise the finish is a bit sparse, but still incredibly classy.

The centre console is all business. Once the destination and radio are set, there are just a few adjustments to make. One primary button sharpens everything - from those gearshifts to the stiffness of the suspension and tuning up the already raucous exhaust note with the twist little knob.

Everything is about the driver, and his or her ability to drive this car safely, quickly and according to the conditions. Not that it lacks some thoughtful gadgets to help.

Like the voice recognition software that eliminates the need for the driver to take their hands off the wheel. Say "I need petrol" and the satellite navigation provides directions to the nearest fuel spot.

Say "I'm cold" and the same system will turn up the climate control a degree or two.

The beautifully presented instrument panel uses the latest display technology but retains the very retro, very Porsche "sports chronograph" format that has served this model so well for so long.

There is a back seat, but it has no more useful purpose than somewhere to put groceries. Actually, the "boot" in the front of the GTS is pretty decent for a large weekend suitcase or a couple of slabs of beer. It's an advantage of having the engine pushed to sit above the rear axle.

Considering the Porsche designers have stuck pretty much to the same design cues since the first Carrera was penned back in 1964, it's remarkable how this car has changed and evolved through the years, yet hardly changed at all.

Park this 911 next to a model from, say, a decade ago and it's plain that they share DNA - but equally obvious is the extent to which those lines have been sculpted and enhanced with each successive version.

The current silhouette is beautiful in the most simple way imaginable. It just is.

This car gets noticed.

Two questions remain. Firstly, after building and constantly improving the 911 for more than 50 years, how did Porsche manage to make this car so much better than the previous model? And how have the Porsche designers and engineers kept it at the top of the heap for so long?

Perhaps it's just because that GTS recipe is such a good one.

Very fast. Surprisingly comfortable. Totally Porsche.

PORSCHE 911 Carrera GTS COUPE

* HOW BIG? Perhaps a little larger than imagined, but it's strictly a snug two-seater.

* HOW FAST? It will reach the speed limit in less time than it takes to say "Porsche 911 Carrera GTS".

* HOW THIRSTY? If that question matters, don't buy this car.

* HOW MUCH? Prices for a 911 range from about $250k on the road to $500k (plus on road costs).