Tenerife, Canary Islands – Yep, this is a big deal.
The legend. The icon. The world’s most famous sports car. The backbone on which Porsche has built a dynasty. The car whose trio of digits line up with those you dial when someone falls off a ladder. We’re speaking of the Porsche 911, and it no longer draws its own breath.
Hang on. That sounds a bit melodramatic.
To clarify, all new Porsche 911s (with the exception of the GT3) are now turbocharged. Air is forced into the cylinders by a pair of exhaust-gas driven turbines. It’s the times we are living in. With ever more stringent emission and fuel economy targets looming, automakers are going to smaller displacement, force-fed engines. So the 911, which has been all but defined by its rev-hungry naturally-aspirated flat-six engines, now tows the line as of this mid-cycle makeover of the seventh generation 911 (code number 991), a car that broke cover as a 2012 model.
Both the Carrera and Carrera S share a 3.0L twin-turbo six, down from the 3.4L and 3.8L in the outgoing models. Naturally, the S has a higher state of tune. By the numbers, power is up 20 horses for each car (now 370 and 420) and torque increases by 44 lb-ft and 43 lb-ft respectively (to 331 lb-ft and 368 lb-ft). Granted, not huge numbers, but it’s all about how that torque is delivered. The naturally aspirated engines had to spin well north of 5,000 rpm to find the grunt – now it’s on board from 1,700-5,000 rpm.
We are here in the Canary Islands to see what Porsche hath wrought. Yes, there’s been plenty of hand wringing. Just like when the 911 went from air-cooled to water-cooled in 1997, and when its steering switched from hydraulic to electric in 2012. Seems we all survived, as did the 911. Once the fuss died down everyone just went on with driving, and darned if the Porsche 911 didn’t keep weaving its magic.
But are we saying goodbye to the hair raising howl of those naturally-aspirated engines, their escalating power curve and deadly accurate throttle response that allowed one to mete out the power one horse at a time?
I’m strapped into a 2017 Carrera S (starting price $118,200) in striking Miami Blue. Hanging out beyond the rear axle is the all-new 420-hp bi-turbo 3.0L flat six. While an improved 7-speed manual tranny is standard kit, this one is fitted with the $3,660 7-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox. Having recently spent a week in a 2015 911 GTS with its naturally-aspirated spinner making 430 hp and 324.5 lb-ft at a lofty 5,750 rpm, those electrifying runs up through the gears still echo in the old cranium.
On autoTRADER.ca: One More than 10 Puts the Singer 911s on Your Coffee Table
Winding mountain roads are beckoning. First impressions: this S is bloody fast, the now standard and revised PASM adaptive damping files the rough edges off the ride, the front end feels more planted, handling more secure, and the turbo-motor’s midrange punch transforms the character of the car. Yes, you can take it to the 7,500 rpm redline in each gear if you want, as the 3.0L is very happy to do so, but it’s not necessary.