On Christmas Eve (!), during a couple of hours, I test drove the brand new turbocharged Porsche 911 Carrera S, i.e. the 2nd iteration of the current 991 generation.
The main change, compared to the 1st generation 991, is the all new 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine. Adding turbos to the standard Carrera and Carrera S models is the biggest change in the history of the 911, since the controversial (at the time) introduction of water cooling in the late 90s.
How is the new turbocharged engine?
Let’s get straight to the point, does the turbocharged engine transform the car? If so, how? Does it ruin the character of the car? How does it sound?
The power delivery has changed a lot; the engine is now much stronger at low revs. This allows you to drive the 911 in a different way; relying more on the torque. Since a couple of generations back, the 911 and the Boxster/Cayman suffer from very long gearing; one of the few criticisms that have been thrown at these cars. If you drive modern Porsches spiritedly on twisty roads, you are only using a couple of the available gears. But, with the new turbocharged engine you have the option to drive it in a different way. You can change gears more often and use more gears. In some ways, this makes the driving experience more fun; downshifting a couple of gears while braking before a turn, upshifting a couple of gears, even on short straights, etc.
But more importantly, the new engine doesn’t force you to drive it in one particular way. It gives you two options; you can either short shift and rely on the torque, or if you wish, you can still chase the engine to the redline. Although the rev limiter is lower than in its predecessor, it is still high enough to be worth chasing.
To summarise, I liked the power delivery of the engine much more than I anticipated. Having owned a couple of 911 GT3 (never a 911 Turbo) and a Ferrari V8, I am a huge fan of atmospheric engines. I was very sceptical about the 911 going down the turbo road, but I realise that the power delivery of a turbo engine can be engineered in such a way that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even in a sports car. Porsche has done a fantastic job with this engine. Although the engine feels torquey at low revs, it doesn’t feel turbocharged because there is no (or imperceptibly little) lag and because it still likes to rev!
Downsides? I found the sound of the engine lacking character and excitement. The car I drove didn’t have the optional Sports Exhaust which, according to other reviewers, improves the sound a lot. I will come back to this subject when I have driven (or rather, listened to) a car with the Sports Exhaust installed. Nearly all press cars that Porsche had at the international launch on the Canary Islands had the optional Sports Exhaust; I believe there is is a reason for that…
Anything else Porsche has changed?
The infotainment and navigation system (PCM) is hugely improved with better graphics, Apple CarPlay, etc.
There are also small exterior changes to the front and the back of the car. The car looks slightly better to my eyes, compared to its predecessor, but the differences are minor.
Apart from a fantastic drive along a twisty road (Barcelona – Vallvidrera – Molins de Rei), which was deserted on the morning of Christmas Eve, I also drove a quick drive with my family; wife and two kids, aged 8 and 5. Everybody was delighted. The 911 is a very tempting proposition as a family sports car. The only “problem” is that I am awaiting delivery of a much more hard core sports car (watch this space!) and I can’t have both…
I would like to thank Centro Porsche Barcelona for letting me test drive the car.
More info regarding my test drives of the Porsche 911 generation 991:
- My original test drive of the 991 Carrera S, pre-facelift, atmospheric engine, in Swedish
- My test drive of a 991 Carrera S Cabriolet rental car, in English