Since Porsche created the 911 more than 50 years ago, it’s been an evolutionary process, more than a revolution. The model generally changes shape minimally and the way it generates its power comes from a flat 6, horizontally opposed, hung out over the rear axle. A layout that shouldn’t work, but does. In the standard Carrera model, you could maybe name a handful of major changes to the car since its creation. Most notably being the switch from air cooled to water cooled in the late 1990’s when the 993 gave way to the 996. The change caused stir with 911 purists, however the result was one of the most popular 911 models of all time and a far more efficient power delivery system. Having owned a 996, I can honestly say the car was bullet proof.
As the 996 gave way to the 997 and then on to the 991 v1, few changes were made with the engine, until now. For the 2017 991, Porsche has launched all Carrera models with a turbo charged engine. A company first. Typically, only models with the designated turbo badge in the 911 range have a turbo engine. However, in a move which we are seeing across the industry, manufacturers are downsizing and adding turbos to make their cars more energy efficient, while at the same time generating more horsepower and torque. Have turbos killed the legend?
I had the opportunity to try out the new model. A rear wheel drive Carrera S model with a downsized 3.0 litre engine displacing 420 HP, 500 Nm of torque and equipped with a revised 7 speed PDK gearbox. From the outside there’s relatively few changes from the previous 991 and the new 991. Like most Carrera facelifts, unless you really know what to look for, they can be difficult to see. To name a few, if the sports exhaust is fitted, it now features two mid mounted pipes, somewhat similar to the GT3.
Also, to get air to those twin turbos, the air flows through vents above the engine and small vents that can be found near the splitters at the back of the rear wheels. On the inside, a steering wheel similar to a 918 and a revised multimedia interface with Apple Play is now available.
From the moment you climb into the sumptuous cockpit, you instantly begin to recognize why this is such a useable sports car. It’s comfortable, has all the latest gadgets, yet remains so very driver focused. Even with the improved interior quality over the years, you always know you’re in a 911. It feels so familiar every time. Those 5 dials with the large rpm gauge centrally mounted, calling at you that this car means business.
In historical Le Mans starting fashion, the ignition is still on the opposite side of the steering wheel to the gear lever. As I insert the car-shaped key and turn, the familiar flat six sound burbles to life. Instantly my heart starts to race. We pull away, I start to flip through the driver settings on the steering wheel, until I reach sport and then sport +. Suddenly the exhaust gets louder, the suspension sharper, the gearshifts quicker. Yes, I think that’ll do.
There’s a gap in the traffic, I blip down a couple gears, the exhaust crackling and popping with each downshift. It’s time to go. Whoosh! I’m instantly pushed back in my seat. First gear, second gear, each change coming with racing like millisecond precision. The engine revving to just over 7k and the rear mounted spoiler rising just before I hit third gear. Turbo lag is non-existent and the response is effortless. 0 – 100 km/h on this Carrera S model is clocked at 3.9 seconds by Porsche, however they tend to state slower times then what the car can actually do. I wouldn’t be surprised if this model can hit 100 km/h in 3.6 or 3.7 seconds. It definitely felt like it.
I reach a long sweeping bend. The electronic steering which was so heavily criticized in the 991 v1, now has so much feel that I really couldn’t tell that it wasn’t hydraulic. Within a matter of seconds, we are back in traffic and I get the opportunity to try out the huge rotors equipped to the 305 rear and 245 front Pirellis. The stopping power is immense. No matter how much larger the 911 gets, it’s still feels light and on its toes when you need it to be, while being extremely planted at speed.
I have few complaints about this car, I do miss the higher revving naturally aspirated engine. The sports exhaust does help and the new car is definitely faster and more efficient, but it may have lost a little bit of its soul. I’m sure as we get more used to it, the turbos won’t come into question anymore, a bit like how hydraulic steering no longer seems an issue. Also, the rear seats, while still useable, haven’t really changed much since the first time I went in a 911, which was an early 1980’s 911 SC. Other than that, this car will be hard to beat by any of its nearest competitors. It deserves 5 stars. Porsche has managed to retain most of the 911’s core personality traits, while keeping in line with the government imposed industry trend. It will be interesting to see how the new V8 R8 by Audi and Aston Martin’s next generation Vantage stand up to the German benchmark.
Engine 3.0 liter twin-turbo horizontally opposed six
Horse Power 420 @ 6,500rpm
Torque 500 Nm @ 1,700rpm
0-100 km/h 3.9 (official)
Top Speed 307 km/h
This article was first published in Palace.