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ROAD TEST: 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera exterior. PRESS.PORSCHE.COM.
Shari Prymak, Special to CP24.com
Published Thursday, July 21, 2016 10:56AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 9, 2016 10:13AM EDT
The Porsche 911 has had over half a century to refine the formula of the most rounded sports car in the market. Making changes to it is not an easy task, but given the age of tightening emissions standards, change is a must. Like the rest of the industry, Porsche has moved with the times and has introduced turbocharging to most of the 911 range in place of its much-loved naturally-aspirated flat-6 engines. The change has resulted in a 911 range that, on paper at least, is more efficient, more flexible, and more powerful than ever. Whether it has resulted in a better 911 is the concern of many enthusiasts.
The 911 may have entered a new world from an engineering standpoint, but in terms of exterior design, it remains as faithful as ever to its past. Though recognizable in shape to its predecessors, there’s no doubt that the 911 has grown significantly over the years. This became especially apparent after having an opportunity to sit inside an older 964 generation 911, which felt significantly more intimate than my 991.2 Carrera test car. Though just as attractive and timeless, the greater size certainly nudges the 911 across the spectrum from sports car towards GT car.
An enthusiastic drive down some twisty roads is all that it takes, however, to confirm that the involvement and intimacy is still there. The Carrera is able to control its body motions better than most, and remain nicely balanced through corners. Everything from the steering, to the pedals, to even the seat beneath your bottom, deliver this lovely sensory feedback that’s comparably numb in many competing sports cars. It’s an engaging car that prods you to push it harder, yet it can still coddle you just enough to make the daily commute enjoyable.
Although there’s no denying the all-weather advantage of all-wheel drive or the ease of use of the PDK gearbox, the comparatively simple rear-wheel drive Carrera with the manual gearbox has its own appeal. Even with the high level of grip, the chassis still has an endearing playful nature to it that only rear-wheel drive can deliver. The 7-speed manual is a joy to use as well. The shifter has a light positive feel with a well-defined gate pattern. Despite driving through a fair amount of traffic, at no point did I feel fatigued by having to change gears the old fashion way. Going with the standard rear-wheel drive layout and manual gearbox also saves a bit of weight, 1430kg versus 1500kg, which is always a good thing.
Fans of the metallic howl and crisp response of Porsche’s naturally aspirated flat-6 engines may be skeptical, but the new 3.0L, twin-turbo flat-6 is one of the most impressive force-fed engines out there. The ample low-end torque gives the Carrera a level of flexibility and urgency that was largely absent in its free-breathing predecessor. The one undeniable letdown is that the naturally-aspirated unit’s fizzy aural symphony delivered in that last 1500rpm of the rev band is more or less gone. Instead, there’s now a bellowy rasp that builds towards the 6500prm power peak, and levels off up to the pleasingly high 7400rpm limiter. To maximize aural delight, it would be wise to spec the sport exhaust option.
The sport exhaust was one of only a handful of options added onto my Carrera test car, which carries a base MSRP of $102,200. With the sport exhaust, Carrera S wheels, heated seats, and auto dimming mirrors, the total for my tester came in at $108,650. In typical Porsche fashion, the Carrera offers a seemingly endless list of options that can significantly increase that total. Many buyers will likely option up their Carrera with all-wheel drive, as well as the latest fancy acronyms such as as PDCC, PTV, PCCB, and, of course, PDK. The base Carrera, however, comes very well equipped as is, and at no point did I wish for anything more.
The interior feels well-built and appropriately upscale. The standard sport seats are covered is a nice leather and offer a modest amount of both manual and power adjustability. The standard steering wheel feels incredible to grip and is refreshingly free of any buttons. Porsche’s new PCM infotainment system is responsive to inputs, easy to use, and offers sharp looking graphics. It includes navigation, Apple Carplay capability, and a reversing camera with front and rear sensors. Other notable standard features include effective bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights, and electronically-adjustable dampers courtesy of Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM).
Despite losing a bit of aural drama in its changeover to turbocharging, the Carrera has improved in enough areas to maintain its status as one of the most rounded, talented sports cars money can buy. Other desirably options exist, such as the excellent Jaguar F-Type, but it’s no secret why so many continue to praise the 911. Even in its entry-level form, for those seeking character and performance matched with flexibility and daily usability, it’s one of the finest.
Shari Prymak is a member of the Car Help Canada team and as an auto expert, has published countless articles for auto sites.