2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S Test Drive: Newest 911 Breaks from Tradition [Review]

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S

The Porsche marque has long been steeped in tradition, particularly within its 911 stable of super sports cars. Yet, even within that traditional scope, the iconic Porsche 911 Carrera offerings have always seemed to up the ante each and every year with some significant evolutionary change or changes that improve not only the car’s looks but its performance capabilities as well – all without sacrificing any of it’s DNA or visual appeal.

The 2017 911 Carrera models prove to be no exception to that rule – well, sort of. The 911 Carrera is still recognizably a 911 Carrera, but the entry level now incorporates turbocharging to the menu of its least expensive entry level models – an asset formerly held in abeyance for its higher priced sports vehicles displaying the GT or Turbo badge.

But turbocharging, as important as it is to the revised character of this new Porsche 911 Carrera stable, is certainly not the only significant contribution to the car’s enhanced persona and performance. There are a wealth of advancements that go along with the turbocharging (but without the appearance of any Turbo logos or badging), that boost not only the power and torque range, but the handling prowess of the car as well. In addition to exhibiting impressive enhanced high-performance properties, this latest iteration of both the 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S is also more user-friendly as a refined everyday driver, and the base 911 Carrera now produces more torque than the old 911 Carrera S did.

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S

New for 2017 are new headlights with 4-point running lights, new taillights with 4-point brake lights, and a new 7-inch touch-screen dashboard display. The rear wheels are now 0.5-inches wider; the three-spoke steering wheel design is from the 918 Spyder, with an optional GT Sport steering wheel available. Plus the rear deck lid now features longitudinal vertical vanes rather than horizontal.

Suspension componentry has also been upgraded, with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard fare, which now provides adjustable ride characteristics to all 911s. It has also received a few minor updates, with the Normal setting moving more to the comfort side of the equation in terms of ride quality, especially for a car with 19- or 20-inch wheels.

Porsche has also tweaked the Sport and Sport+ settings, firming them up for enhanced handling capability. There is definitely a clear distinction between the Normal and Sport suspension settings. Ride height has been dropped by nearly a half inch with the center of gravity lowered for improved stability in cornering (and it lowers an additional half inch with the available Sport Suspension). The new 911 Carrera now offers a front axle lift system as an option priced at $2,590 that raises the front end by 1.5 inches to help clear elevated entryways and lowers back to regular ride height automatically at approximately 37 mph.

The available Sport Chrono feature now includes a mode switch on the steering wheel, with Normal, SPORT, SPORT Plus and Individual settings. A Sport response button engages the optimal gear, with a rev step-up and build-up of charge pressure. There are three exhaust systems: a standard central dual exhaust for the 911 Carrera; a flap system split dual exhaust (quad) for the 911 Carrera S, and an optional, multiple flap Sport exhaust with two centrally positioned exhaust tips.

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S 3.0L twin-turbo Boxer engine Cabriolet

The new 911 Carreras also benefit from a weight reduction, resulting from the use of lighter weight materials and engineering improvements, such as a polymer oil pan with an integrated dry sump and fewer components, turbo size adjustment, virtual gears, Start-Stop plus, and a coasting function.

Both the Porsche 911 Carrera and healthier 911 Carrera S models draw their motive force from a reduced displacement 3.0-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, twin-turbo flat opposed six cylinder “Boxer” engine with direct fuel injection. Both benefit from horsepower and torque increases over the old larger displacement engines while yielding improved fuel economy. The horsepower (bhp): ratings for the 911 Carrera are 370 at 6,500 rpm along with 331 pound-feet of torque in a range from 1,700-5,000 rpm. The 911 Carrera S produces 50 more horsepower (420) at 6,500 rpm while developing 368 pound-feet of torque (a plus of 37 pound-feet) from 1,700-5,000 rpm. The difference in power is the result of the S model’s modified turbocharger compressors, a different exhaust, and distinct engine management tuning. Air flow control and intercooling operate on a forced induction concept.

The rear-mounted engine gears energy to the rear wheels through either a 7-speed manual transmission with a two-disc clutch for lighter effort or a 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) automatic with modified gear ratios and a new dual-mass flywheel using a centrifugal pendulum. Active rear axle steering is optionally available for Carrera S models, which enhances the driving stability and reduces the turning circle by 1.6 feet. There are also all-wheel drive models that are designated by the numeral 4.

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S

Coded internally as a 991.2, the new Porsche 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S models do not appear dramatically or radically altered from the preceding models. The basic form’s styling remains essentially the same, but has received a refresh in several areas. Among the design highlights: the front and rear fascia display sharper profiles; active cooling flaps have been incorporated, and in addition to the new headlights and taillights, new exterior door panels appear without grip shells.

The new rear decklid grille’s longitudinal air vanes are sprayed high gloss black. There is nothing new beneath the front bonnet or hood – its configuration remains the same for both Coupes and Cabriolets.

The 2017 Porsche 911 2+2 sports car offerings will consist of: a Carrera and Carrera S coupe; a Carrera and Carrera S Cabriolet; a Carrera 4 and 4S in both Coupe and Cabriolet form; and a Targa 4 and 4S model, with base pricing ranging from $89,400. to $175,900. The price obviously escalates with optional features and equipment, and the $1,050. Destination and Handling charge.

Carrera and Carrera S models may generally be differentiated externally by the exhaust – as already referenced, standard Carreras feature two centrally positioned dual exhaust tips, while Carrera S models have split dual or quad exhaust tips unless equipped with the active Sport exhaust, in which case, there are centralized dual exhaust outlets. The Sport exhaust emits a pleasing note, but there will be those who feel that the exhaust tone produced by the old normally aspirated flat six motors is more satisfying. You be the judge. In my opinion, the added torque derived from turbocharging is of greater relevance than quibbling over the tone of the exhaust. Engine noises are also pumped into the cabin by sound symposers through a duct without any artificial embellishment.