by: Mike Ginsca
Out with the old, in with the new. Porsche had just recently redesigned their flagship car, the 911, with new and fancy electronic technology that has some Porsche purists calling “heresy”. So has Porsche signed a deal with the devil or is this new 911 a gift from the heavens? Read on…
Performance – The new base Carrera has essentially the same engine as the old but it has been “de-stroked” from a 3.6L to a 3.4L. Now I could go into boring details and explain what de-stroking is and does but in short the pistons travel less in the engine which allows for a higher redline. Power has been bumped up by 5hp to 350hp and the torque figure is at 288 lb-ft. The engine doesn’t sound or feel particularly exciting below 2000rpms (it actually feels like it wants to stall) but take it north of 2000rpms and the engine screams into life like a banshee. Peak torque is delivered at 5600rpms but it feels like it’s available all the time and your back is firmly pressed in the seat when accelerating. Helping this 911 accelerate is Porsche’s PDK 7-speed dual clutch gearbox which shifts gears faster than your eyes can blink. In a head to head acceleration test between 2 identical 911s but with manual vs. PDK gearboxes, the PDK 911 would beat the manual 911 every time. One criticism I do have of the PDK transmission is that under normal driving conditions, it shifts up through the gears too soon and leaves the engine below 2000rpms in the limbo zone where it feels rough and like it’s about to die. However, a 7-speed manual gearbox comes as standard on these cars so you don’t have to pay the $4,600 price tag for the PDK gearbox if you don’t want to.
Handling is what the Porsche 911 is known for and this new version does not disappoint. A lot of 911 purists were very disappointed when Porsche announced that the 911 would have electro mechanical power steering as oppose to traditional hydraulic power steering. But I don’t see why because the steering is extremely responsive to every minute change of steering input that you give. Your fingers can feel every different type of road surface through the steering wheel like as though you were touching the road. The new 911 also has Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control which is designed to make the car corner flat and improve high-speed stability. And another new technology that the 911 is equipped with is torque vectoring. Torque vectoring applies the brake slightly to the inner wheel when cornering to help the car turn into a corner more quickly and reduce understeer. Next to the shifter there is a Sport button which when pressed, it sharpens the throttle response and stiffens the suspension to provide a more “race car” feel. Just don’t leave the sport button on when driving through a city otherwise the stiff suspension will break your back.
Comfort – Inside the car, the cabin fells like you’re in a spaceship. Right in front of you, there are 6 analog gauges and one digital which can be programmed to display 3 more engine parameters. The center console flows from the dashboard to the armrest incorporating button controls that look like they’re from the star ship Enterprise. The steering wheel is simple and not clogged up with buttons all over it like how most cars are these days. The heated seats can melt your bones even with the top down on cold sunny days, the Bose stereo system is as crisp and clear as a home theatre system, and the fit & finish of the interior rivals that of supercars costing twice as much. However, if you have kids then might I suggest getting a second car because if 2 adults that are over 6’ tall sit in the front, then there is absolutely no room in the back for anyone. Although no one can sit comfortably in the back seats, the front seats are surprisingly luxurious for a sports car and there’s plenty of head room (top up) for someone as tall as I am (6’5”) but I did find my feet to be a bit cramped in the footwell.
Odds and Ends – Porsche went to great lengths in developing the new 911 to meet new stringent government restrictions on fuel consumption. This 911 features start/stop technology which shuts off the engine when coming to a stop and then restarting the engine when setting off again. On the PDK equipped 911s, the clutches are sometimes disengaged completely when cruising or decelerating in top gear to let the engine idle and further improving fuel economy. These technologies (in addition to the electronically assisted power steering) help the Carrera achieve a fuel rating of 10.2 l/100km in city and 7.0 l/100km on the highway. In terms of styling, the new 991 911 looks pretty much the same as the 997 911. It has subtle changes to the rear taillights and the headlights as well as the grille, but there’s nothing substantially different between the old and new version.