Porsche’s strategy of ever more variants for the 911 range is paying dividends: worldwide deliveries reached 25,000 cars in the first nine months of 2015. The GTS line, new earlier this year, is a good example of how the company constantly finds ways of expanding sales of its rear-engined supercar.

Anyone wanting the 430hp 3.8-litre engine in a 911 has the choice of no less than five variants. Four of these – Carrera GTS and Carrera 4 GTS, in both coupe and cabriolet body styles – were first seen just under a year ago at the Los Angeles motor show. The Targa 4 GTS was then announced and revealed at the Detroit auto show in January. It went on sale two months later. 

For the moment at least, Porsche is holding off on giving these cars the same styling refresh that will soon be applied to multiple other, albeit cheaper 911s. A mid-life facelift and new 2,981cc biturbo engines for the Carrera and Carrera S will become available from December. In the Carrera and Cabriolet, the power output is 370hp (272kW) with torque of 450Nm, while the S and S Cabriolet have a 420hp (309kW) version of the same capacity engine with an extra 50Nm.

Porsche has also just announced six all-wheel drive variants powered by the same 3.0-litre engines: Carrera 4, Carrera 4S, Carrera 4 Cabriolet, Carrera 4S Cabriolet, Targa 4 and Targa 4S. The first deliveries (in Germany) are due in January. 

All GTS versions of the 911 have enough in the way of subtle exterior touches to render them undated, despite the adjustments to the appearance of the 3.0-litre cars. There are 20″ centre lock alloy wheels; 8.5J at the front and 11.5J at the back and these are painted black. This theme continues with the headlights, which have a dark backing. And if you’re following any GTS in the dark, you’ll know it by the illuminated strip which runs across the top of the engine cover connecting the tail lamps.

You can see the key in one of the accompanying images: it’s a nice touch to colour-code it to the exterior. In the case of the press test vehicle, this was Carmine Red, which costs an additional GBP1,805. Just as you would with a metal key, you insert this plastic one into a slot to the right of the trademark three dials which make up the instrumentation. The middle of these is a large tachometer. This has a red background and GTS in white letters and it reads to 9,000rpm but the redline is at 7,600rpm. The speedometer to its left has markings which go all the way up to 200mph. And the third dial? This is a multi-function screen – you can even call up the SatNav to be displayed on it to save you having to gaze left to the middle of the dashboard.

As with any 911, this one looks and feels as though it’s going to last for many, many decades. That impression comes from things such as the solid metal used for the door handles and PDK gearbox paddles (the double-clutch transmission costs an additional GBP2,817) or the way the door pockets flip out precisely and are the opposite of wobbly-flimsy. Another pleasing detail is the fantastically over-engineered cupholders. These hide behind a fold-down panel ahead of the passenger and pushing each one gently commands it to emerge from its resting spot. I wouldn’t be putting a scalding flat white in there before heading for some fun roads, though – they’re designed more for small bottles of water. Or in other words, times when you’re not enjoying the phenomenal power of the flat six at high revs, and testing the capabilities of the AWD system, torque vectoring and the rear axle’s mechanical limited slip diff.

You can try as hard as you like but on public roads it’s not easy to make this car’s rear end step out of line. It is tremendous fun though. Trouble is, the exhaust note is surprisingly ordinary, even in Sports mode, which is activated by a button on the centre console. Maybe I was spoiled by the sensational sounds emerging from the four tailpipes of the Jaguar F-TYPE R a few weeks ago? 

Next rung up the 911 ladder above the GTS is the GT3. This is powered by a 485hp (350kW) version of the 3.8-litre H6. Then comes the GT3 RS. It has its own 4.0-litre engine which produces 500hp (368kW). The RS’ body is made from aluminium and steel composite while the rear lid, rear wing and full bucket seats are manufactured from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). Forged aluminium is used for the air intakes and wings; magnesium for the roof and polycarbonate for the rear and front side windows.

At the top of the tree sits the Turbo, but there are two versions. The standard one has a 520hp (383kW) flat six, while the Turbo S’ engine pushes out 560hp (412kW). With that sort of power available, Porsche has no need to add a 600hp 911. Instead, what it’s planning to do, is address some criticism that’s been coming its way from those who love the idea of the lightweight GT3 but wish it didn’t have a standard PDK automatic gearbox. Ironically, the dual clutch transmission shifts faster than any owner could in a manual transmission car but purists will be purists, so next year should see yet another 911 variant added to what has become a vast range. The (rear-wheel drive) R will combine the body and engine of the GT3 with a seven-speed manual. 

Porsche models for 2016 and beyond

It’s been another big year for Porsche sales worldwide and the UK is one of the stand-out markets. September registrations shot up by 87% to 1,910 cars, and year to date, they’re up by 47% to 9,559 vehicles. The Macan is much of the reason for that, but the 911 and Cayenne have also been doing especially well. The new GTS version of the Macan has just had its world premiere at the Tokyo motor show, so we’ll be seeing that car in showrooms soon.

The 911 has another three years in its lifecycle so expect to see more variants such as the R added to the range, as well as facelifts in the coming months for the GTS, GT3, Turbo and Turbo S. The Macan is also due for some styling tweaks within the next 12-18 months, but before then, a new Panamera should appear. This will be based upon the new MSB platform. Not only will there be replacements for the standard hatchback and long-wheelbase Executive, but a shooting brake might also be added later in the new model’s cycle plan.

Next year will see facelifts for the Cayman and Boxster as well as a range of fresh engines. This should include the much anticipated four-cylinder boxer units. Unless Porsche springs a surprise and launches the Audi S7-sized car it is said to be planning, 2017 should be a quiet year compared to 2016. Things get busy again in 2018 though. That’s when the next Cayenne is set to appear, as well as the 992 series 911, which should include the first plug-in hybrid powertrain for a 911.