Porsche 911 turbocharge plan revs up owners
Porsche 911 owners are a faithful and rabid bunch who do not like their car to be messed with. In the late 1990s, when the people in Stuttgart switched from air-cooled to water-cooled engines, loyalists were certain the move caused the financial collapse in Southeast Asia and tsunamis in Papua New Guinea. Perhaps even that dreadful movie Armageddon.
It could be deja vu all over again. With the 2017 model year, all 911s are now turbocharged. That’s right: technically it means you can buy a base Carrera and crow to your friends you own a 911 turbo, which you would, just not a Turbo model (which still exists, with fender intakes and 540 horsepower, so that’s quite a white-lie buster).
Visually, only eagle-eyed Porschephiles will spot the redesigned front and back fascia, doors and a rear air intake that gulps more air on the 2017 version. No controversy there. The twin-turbo version of the flat-6 engine is smaller now at 3 litres and more fuel-efficient. It also packs additional horsepower – 420 in the Carrera S Cabriolet model I drove, which drinks premium fuel at a rate of 20 miles per gallon (11.8 litres per kilometre) city, 28 (8.4 litres per kilometre) highway, according to the government.
And then there’s the torque – 368 pound-feet of it delivered in a wonderfully linear manner from 1700 through 5000 rpm, whereas the outgoing engine’s power built progressively as the revolutions built up. Enthusiasts should hug the engineers.
This new motor is more drivable, especially when teamed to the seven-speed manual transmission I’m rowing. The seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox is a brilliant piece of machinery. Both transmissions are redesigned.
Manual 911s dash from standstill to 96 km/h in about four seconds, while the PDK – which stands for Porsche Doppelkupplung, not Pretty Darn Kwik – is a couple of ticks faster.
Sonically, the 911’s precision clockwork-on-amphetamines characteristic remains, save for a whisper of a whistle added by the turbos that should be a deal breaker only to those sensitive to ultrasonic dog whistles. That symphony of mechanical delight is deliberately guided into the cabin.
Corner hard and the 911’s heroic abilities feel different from those of the mid-engine Cayman and Boxster. The rear-engine 911 essence is a perceptively heavier tail that’s easier to rotate in a controlled manner. Brakes scrub speed off like nobody’s business. Front vents and an active rear spoiler improve aerodynamics on the fly. Drop the perfectly tailored fabric top (something you can do while moving at speeds up to 48 km/h) and air management in the cockpit is well managed.
Not much changes in the familiar cabin, which treats eyes and fingers to materials with visual and tactile heft. The world’s most over-engineered cup holders spring from the dashboard, and the new entertainment system is fully modern with pinch-to-zoom features, Google Maps and Apple CarPlay. A front-axle lift option means steep driveways will no longer keep people from owning a Porsche.
The “frunk” is roomier than you might expect; two carry-on suitcases will fit. Anything else will need to go in the back seat. I use the term “seat” loosely.