So the iconic German sportscar company has designed a virtually all-new 3.0-litre flat-six with twin turbochargers. Downsizing the powerplant from 3.8 to 3.0 litres hasn’t been as extreme a loss in capacity as with other German makers’ engines.
Our road test Porsche 911 was the Carrera S, the more powerful of the revised models. With a recommended retail price of $252,800 it’s about line ball for its class.
Our review machine had the PDK automated manual, $5950; a sports exhaust system, $5890; a full natural leather interior, $11720; powered glass slide and tilt sunroof, $4990; Porsche’s Sport chrono package, $4790; adaptive cruise control, $4690; great looking 20-inch Carrera Classic wheels, $2710; SportDesign door mirrors, $1290; and a Light Design package, $990.
All of a sudden we were riding in a $295,820 Porsche, and the dealer and government charges were still to come.
What can you say about Porsche 911 styling? The classic shape has been around for decades and changes are deliberately subtle. Only the front bonnet of the latest edition is unchanged, but you really do have to sit the old and new side by side to spot there are more differences than are immediately obvious.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Porsche’s new 3.0-litre flat-six comes in different stages of tune; power outputs are 272 kW in the Carrera, and 309 kW in ‘our’ Carrera S, the latter due to higher turbo boost.
Strong torque is the biggest advantage of turbocharging and the engines have 450 and 500 Nm. Peak torque is achieved at a ridiculously low 1700 rpm and runs all the way through to 5000 revs – there’s bulk grunt on offer virtually all the time.
The biggest trouble with turbo engines is lag – the time it takes for the boost to build up. The 911 engineers have worked hard to minimise the problem: the incoming air is electronically managed in different ways according to driver’s need, road surface, even climatic conditions. The engine takes in air centrally in front of the rear spoiler. Air also flows from two other ports into two induction channels that lead to the turbochargers. The turbochargers compress and the air which then flows through two intercoolers behind the wheel arches and then into the intake manifold via the throttle flap.
Porsche’s double-clutch (DuppelKupplung in German) automated manual transmission is the faster of two gearboxes on offer. Those who like the pleasure of sitting in front of a manual gearbox can take charge of a seven-speed – yes, seven-speed – full manual ‘box.
The Sport Chrono Package is our favourite piece of kit. A mode switch mounted on the steering wheel gives the choice of “Normal”, “Sport”, “Sport Plus” and “Individual”. The Individual setting lets you configure PASM, active engine mounts, PDK shifting strategy and sports exhaust system.
New 911 has the latest Porsche Communication Management system (PCM) with a new-design touchscreen that lets you operate it like a smartphone. Porsche Car Connect (PCC) features include traffic information in real time, Google Earth and Google Street View. The system can be networked with a smartphone to give access to many apps.
Getting from zero to 100 km/h in the Porsche 911 Carrera PDK takes 4.2 seconds if the Sport Chrono Package is fitted. The Carrera S just sneaks into the three-second bracket, taking only 3.9 seconds to get to 100 km/h.
When the PDK transmission is fitted, the mode switch has an additional push button in its centre. Porsche says it’s a Sport Response Button (SRB) and asks for us not to call it “Push to Pass” system – so we won’t. When this button is pressed the drivetrain is pre-conditioned for the next 20 seconds to provide maximum acceleration the moment you hit the accelerator. No lag whatsoever. Great fun!
The new engines have tremendous urge and even without engaging the SRB there’s little turbo lag.
Porsche’s aural engineers, have ensured the new turbocharged 911s produce all the right noises, some of them artificially achieved in areas like the spitting and crackling on downchanges. Okay, we feel we should tut-tut when talking about artificial sounds, but it’s the enjoyment that matters so we forget about complaining and simply enjoy the sounds.
Still on the subject of sound, we have never heard so much road-roar from tyres on coarse-chip surfaces. Try for yourself before you buy if that sort of surface is going to be in your motoring life.
Handling is as tenacious as ever thanks to the taming of the rear-heavy layout. Obviously it will bite in the end if you switch off the electronic aids and push it to stupid levels.
The PDK is at weak link in the powertrain when moving at very slow speeds – well below walking pace, that is. Like many of the older double-clutch units it’s jerky when parking and really demands left-foot braking if you want to inch slowly into and out of parking spots.
We have enormous respect for the engineering teams at Porsche. Nothing ever seems to faze them and they have managed to make the switch from naturally-aspirated engines to turbocharged powerplants almost seamless. The 911 still sounds like a Porsche should, the steering is better than ever and the price isn’t outrageous for this class.
AT A GLANCE
Carrera S 3.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe: $217,800 (automatic)
Carrera S 3.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe: $252,800 (automatic)
Carrera 4 3.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe: $233,900 (automatic)
Carrera 4S 3.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe: $269,000 (automatic)
Targa 4 3.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe: $255,400 (automatic)
Targa 4S 3.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe: $290,500 (automatic)
Turbo 3.8-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe: $384,900 (automatic)
Turbo S 3.8-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe: $456,500 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Porsche dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Porsche 911 Carrera S 3.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door coupe)
Capacity: 2.981 litres
Configuration: Six cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 309 kW @ 6500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 500 Nm @ 5000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 98RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 199 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4499 mm
Wheelbase: 2450 mm
Width: 1808 mm
Height: 1296 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1440 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 64 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited km