2017 Porsche 911 Carrera
If you listen closely, you’ll notice a low murmur, a quiet whisper.
It’s from Porsche 911 purists, bringing up that old chestnut of air-cooled engines, nattering on about how the sports car company is moving further away from its roots with a new line of turbocharged flat-sixes.
If you’re feeling argumentative, ask them if they want to bring back the original’s rear drum brakes, too. But to really silence the whiners, talk about how the new 911 Carrera and Carrera S are the fastest ones yet, and that the Carrera S now gets to 100 km/h less than four seconds. Soon, you shouldn’t hear much complaining at all.
And certainly not if they drove one of these extensively refreshed 911s, designated the 991-2 model; these Carrera and Carrera S in coupe and cabriolet forms are the first to receive twin turbocharging for their 3.0-litre flat sixes. The base model gets 370 horsepower, while the S ups that to 420; that’s 20 more horsepower for both models. But that’s not even the best part.
What makes these engines so good is the huge gobs of torque, all available from just 1,700 rpm up to 5,000 rpm, thanks to those twin turbos. Previous non-turbo models had to be flogged to nearredline to access the whole torque curve. The Carrera puts down 332 lb-ft, while the S has 369 and, with no discernible turbo lag, that means heavy, usable grunt from a standstill right through the mid-range – though, with a redline of 5,700 rpm, thrashing that engine is still an option if you’re finding its peak performance on a track. On a closed mountain road at the 911’s launch in Tenerife, the base Carrera with a PDK transmission pulls away hard with the flick of a right foot, often without the need to downshift like you would have had to with the previous model, and its curve-hugging qualities become frighteningly apparent.
The new engine sounds more like those fabled air-cooled flat sixes and, only with the roof down in the cabriolet, can you hear the low whine of the turbos spooling up behind you. And, if that weren’t enough, both of the 3.0-litres now get up to 12 per cent better fuel economy than the last versions.
The march of progress goes on for Porsche, and for the better. If purists aren’t happy with the new turbo engines, the enthusiasts will be.
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- Base prices: Carrera: $102,200; Carrera S: $118,200
- Engine: 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged boxer six-cylinder
- Transmission: Seven-speed PDK; seven-speed manual
- Fuel economy, combined (litres/100 km): Carrera: 7.4; Carrera S: 7.7
- Alternatives: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Audi R8, Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes AMG GT, BMW M4
- Looks: Most big changes are underneath, but the 991-2 now has a slightly sharper and reshaped nose, the Porsche-signature four LED driving lights in the headlight clusters, new door handles, a redesigned air intake at the back and three-dimensional tail lights. New five-spoke wheels are standard.
- Interior: The new rotating dial on the steering wheel reduces the swath of buttons on the centre console, making it easier for a driver to go from normal to sport to sport+ to individual without taking eyes off the road.
- Performance: The engines are only part of the package; along with a nowstandard Porsche active suspension management (PASM). In dynamic cornering, it feels absolutely sucked to the road, and even on uneven pavement the chassis stays flat despite ridiculous speed around the curves.
- Tech: Notable changes include post-collision braking and adaptive cruise control as standard on all models. The Porsche communication management infotainment screen operates with swipes like a smartphone and offers Apple CarPlay.
- Cargo: The trunk isn’t very large, but it will accommodate a couple pieces of luggage.
The benchmark for all sports cars is now better in every way dynamically.
The 911 Carrera and Carrera S have twin-turbo, flat-sixes that produce 370 hp and 420 hp, respectively.