TENERIFÉ – We travelled to the Canary Islands to sample the substantially revised Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S…
Substantially? It doesn’t look very different…
No it doesn’t. But changes between different generations of 911s are hard to spot, let alone mid-life facelifts. Look closely, though and you’ll notice subtle front-end updates that include headlamps with four-point daytime running lights and a new bumper with active cooling air flaps. On each corner, at standstill the louvres are opened, but if there is no need for more cooling air, they close at speeds above 15 km/h and open over several stages starting at 160 km/h. When closed, say Porsche, airflow around the front end is improved, and this lowers air drag and lift at the front axle.
At the rear, functionality has dictated more changes with redesigned rear lid with black vertical louvres that manage airflow to the new turbo powerplant. New, notched rear lights are the other main update.
The real change, though, is beneath that rear boot lid.
So they’ve worked on the engine then?
Correct. But not just a mild revision to the existing powerplant, this is an entirely new one. The beloved naturally aspirated fat-six engine has been binned in favour of an all-new bi-turbo 3,0-litre flat six.
What?! No more naturally aspirated 911?
I know, the purist in you might be concerned with the demise of one the world’s iconic engines, but I assure you, it’s for the better. Both derivatives have 15 extra kilowatts and 60 N.m more torque. Both boast 0-100 km/h acceleration times 0,2 sec quicker than before and they both have marginally quicker top speeds. But the real clincher is the how that powered is delivered. Thanks to the forced induction, those extra Newton metres kick in at a low 1 700 r/min and remain on tap up to 5 000 r/min.
In real world terms it means exiting corners just that bit quicker as the torque instantaneously hooks up in this wonderfully tractable new powerplant. Its this flat-torque-curve characteristic that also means you use the gearbox far less, with fewer down shifts need to keep it on the boil.
Sounds like its cornering ability has improved…
Indeed, and it’s through these corners that this 911’s other piece of new technology comes to the fore – active rear-axle steering. Adopted from the 911 Turbo and GT3, it’s an option on Carrera S. Not only does it mean improved stability while changing lanes at high speed and a smaller turning circle at low speeds, but where you really notice it, is at turn-in when pushing on through tight corners.
Accelerate out of tight corners at speeds above 80 km/h and the rear wheels orientate in the same plane as the front ones (though not to the same degree). Initially it feels a little weird – like the rear end loses grip – but it’s the rear-axle steering placing the back in the direction indicated by the steering wheel. Co-ordinate your turn-in and throttle inputs and it makes you feel like Walter Röhrl. Over cook your entry speed and it spares your understeery blushes.
Standard-spec transmission is a seven-speed manual (now with a two-disc clutch), but most owners these days go for the seven-speed PDK dual-cutch auto transmission. The PDK has been tweaked for better fuel efficiency and, according to Porsche, the new cars to use 12% less fuel than the models they replace.
What other fancy stuff does it have?
Well, the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system is now standard on all Carrera models and it offers a wider spectrum between comfort and the sport modes. It’s also been re-engineered to lower the 911’s centre of gravity with a 10 mm lower ride height for improved cornering stability.
The Sports Chrono Package is definitely an option you’d want to tick. It’s now operated via a rotary dial on the steering wheel that will switch between “Normal”, “Sport”, “Sport Plus” and “Individual”. The PASM, sports exhaust system, and PDK dual-clutch shifting strategy are all reconfigured accordingly.
And what’s that little button in the middle of the rotary switch?
That’s an overboost button. Press it preconditions the drivetrain and chassis control systems for enhanced sprinting performance. The fun lasts for 20 seconds.
So you liked it then?
Put it this way… even before these revisions, I reckon this was the best car in the world. It may not have been the fastest, or most dynamic, but nothing comes close to the 911’s duality as both a perfectly comfortable daily driver and all the performance car you could possibly need on public roads.
The new engines, updated PASM system, and the rear-axle steering and Sports Chrono package options have only added to this. As ever, the 911 Carrera remains a nuanced driver’s machine and Porsche’s engineers have done well to make sure this aesthetically subtle but mechanically major facelift retains these qualities.