It’s not an unfamiliar reaction: pin the throttle in the 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, and the car leaps ahead, power swelling up as the tachometer reaches the upper half of its sweep, and swelling up some more as the 7,400 rpm redline approaches. Gears shift, via the PDK transmission, at an impossible speed, and with impossible precision that sees the tachometer’s needle flick around faster than your eyes can track it.
It’s all powered up by a twin-turbo 3.0L flat-six lump, with the bigger all-motor unit propelling many former 911 models now relegated to the history books. Downsizing and turbocharging has arrived in the 911’s engine bay, and there have been some concerns about what that sounds like.
Turbochargers sit in an engine’s exhaust stream, mucking up the pulsations of engine exhalation as the gaseous stream gets all mashed up and discombobulated as it’s fed through the turbines. Among other things, this smooths out the pulsations key to the signature sound of so many hot engines. As a result, it’s harder (though not impossible) to make a turbo engine sound magnificent, especially when it comes to a pulsating, throbbing, wailing or otherwise distinctive sound signature.
But, the 911 still sounds boss. Sports exhaust opened up with a click of the console-mounted button, and the sound is loud, progressive, provocative and pleasing. It soaks the cabin. It sounds thrilling. And though it lacks the all-out zing of last year’s all-motor setup, and the signature low-RPM boxer-engine rattle-clatter from the rear of the car, it’s still a performance soundtrack, and a Porsche performance soundtrack, through and through.
Where the former engine had a transformative sound that started with a hollow howl and melted into a nearly furious wail as the rev-limiter readied for action, the new engine’s tonal notes are more steady and smooth. The turbo engine transforms more in volume and less in terms of the sound itself, though there’s still a marked and direct connection between throttle position, revs, and what’s hitting your eardrums.