The 911’s flat-6 engine has been one of its greatest strengths. The naturally aspirated boxer engine, in displacements ranging from 3.4 to 4.0 liters created great sounds, and put out linear, tractable power that somehow delivered than its power figures would indicate.
For 2017, however, Porsche has updated the 991 generation of the 911, adding turbochargers to the base and S models.
The new so-called 991.2 generation 911 features two new twin-turbocharged flat sixes. The base version displaces 3.0 liters and puts out 370 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers represent increases of 20 and 44, respectively.
CHECK OUT: 2017 Porsche 911 first drive review
In S models the displacement is the same but the ouptut is up to 420 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque, increases of 20 and 43.
I was skeptical. Why change what isn’t broken? Would the new turbocharged engines keep that same special character? Would turbo lag be a problem? What about the sound?
I recently had the opportunity drive a new 911 Carrera 4S over a weekend, and it soon became apparent that my fears were misguided.
The Graphite Blue Metallic car I drove was the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S, which comes with a starting price of $111,350, including destination. It came with $27,210 worth of options for a total of $138,560.
Notable options consisted of the PDK dual-clutch transmission ($3,280), the PASM Sport Suspension with a 20 mm lower ride height ($890), the Front-Axle Lift System ($2,590), the interior goodies of the Premium Package Plus ($3,970), and the $6,810 Sport Package, which has such features as rear axle steering, a sport exhaust system, and the Sport Chrono equipment (dynamic engine mounts, analog and digital stopwatch, launch control, and expanded drive modes).
If anything, the new turbo (not to be confused with Turbo) engines are better than the naturally aspirated engines they replace.
The 420-hp engine in the 4S retains all the character of the outgoing engine, but adds a bit more power and a lot more low-end torque. The 0-60 mph run takes just 3.7 seconds, and the top speed is up from 188 to 191 mph. In the all-wheel-drive 4S model I drove, the added traction drops the 0-60 run by another tenth. At its fastest, it’s three tenths quicker than the outgoing 3.8-liter flat-6.
I sensed no turbo lag and felt a bigger kick in the pants off the line. More power is always better if you ask me.
Here are some other notes from my four days in a 911:
- One of the things I love about Porsches is how sturdy they are. The launch control mode bears that out. Simply choose the Sport+ mode (now on the steering wheel), hit the brake, mash the throttle, and watch the revs spin up to about 5,000 rpm. Then, let off the brake and the car vaults forward, snapping your head back into the sport seat. You can do this time and again without damaging the car. Excellent.
- Even with the Sport package and the lowered ride height, you can live with the 911 on an everyday basis. The ride is firm but not harsh. How Porsche makes 305/30R20s soak up bumps this well is beyond me.
- The updated infotainment system is starting to approach what other luxury automakers are doing. This year it adds Google Earth and Street View maps, as well as Apple CarPlay. The touch functions make it easier to use than it has been in the past, but I still found it time-consuming to change radio stations, especially when choosing from the smorgasbord of satellite stations.
- The PDK dual-clutch transmission continues to be one of the best gearboxes on the market. It’s smooth in the tamer modes, but chose the Sport+ mode and it snaps off quick shifts. Porsche provides steering wheel paddles for those who want to choose their own gears, but Sport+ will do better than you can on a racetrack. While I’d buy the manual, I’m more comfortable with the PDK on a track.
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