What’s new with the ‘new’ Porsche 911? David Khoo finds out in Tenerife
Facelifts come and go. Is this ‘new’ 911 really that new?
It’s not a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes, because this facelift of the ‘991’ 911 (also known as the 991.2) features some tweaks that are more than skin-deep. The ‘entry-level’ rear-drive Carrera and Carrera S (C2 and C2S) are the harbingers to the 991.2, and it looks like Porsche has gone the way of forced-induction with the 911 in the name of increasingly stringent emissions requirements, although turbocharging does come with the expected performance benefits as well. That applies to the Coupe and Cabriolet versions, by the way.
Wait, what about the Turbo models?
We were just getting to that: previously, it was a simple enough distinction up to the 991.1 – unless it was badged ‘Turbo’ (or ‘Turbo’ and ‘GT2’ up to the 997), you could be certain that the engine in your 911 was a naturally-aspirated howler. With the 991.2, both C2 and C2S are now powered by the same 3.0-litre biturbo flat-six, albeit in different states of tune. The C2S produces 420bhp and 500Nm, while the C2 sees 370bhp and 450Nm (both ahead of their naturally-aspirated predecessors), with ample shove available from a low-enough rev-point to negate any dynamic waywardness that might come from old-school turbo-lag.
‘Entry level’? Can any Porsche be regarded as such?
That’s why we used the inverted commas. Rear-drive is where it’s at for 911s, but that’s because we enjoy driving’em, so if the GT models are too hardcore for your sensibilities, the C2/C2S (and presumably GTS to come) make sweetly-balanced driving companions… and will seat two in the rear to boot. However, if you’re the sad sort more concerned about price=status than driving these cars hard, then these could well be ‘entry-level’ to you, but we’ll beg to differ.
Does the 991.2 look any different?
Like the Ferrari 488 GTB, the 991.2 features aesthetic/aero elements that are concessions to the new turbocharged engine and its ancillaries, but the whole package also includes subtle yet effective touches. The nose has been redesigned, and the 991.2 gets active cooling flaps in the front air-intake, the first Porsche since the 918 Spyder to get them.
However, like its engine placement, the rump-end is where it’s at for the most eye-catching bits. It’s got a distinct light signature now with the three-dimensional rear-lights, as well as a redesigned air-intake screen with prominent vertical slats that clearly differentiate it from its predecessor. Another distinguishing factor of the turbo’d Carrera models are the exhaust vents of the intercooler, which are positioned low and far to the sides. Ticking the Sport Exhaust option now makes a visual statement (in addition to the shoutier noise), because the twin-round dual tail-pipes are brought closer to the centre of the car within a different rear apron from standard.
The new models also get a Miami Blue colour, which in pictures seems to mirror the Riviera Blue/Mexico Blue of the air-cooled 911s, but in real life it is a lot more turquoise. In any case, it garnered plenty of positive attention since it was the most striking of the launch colours that were available for test.
How do they drive?
Unlike its mid-engined Cayman/Boxster counterparts with their optional six-speed manual transmission, the 911 gets a slick-shifting seven-speed manual, in addition to the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. We’re told the stick-shift can be ordered in Singapore, but there’s no difference in price from the PDK, so the choice between one or the other depends on how you swing.
First seen on the 991.1 GT3/GT3 RS and Turbo/Turbo S models, the 991.2 C2S can now be optioned with active rear-steer, which helps with turning at under 50km/h (the front and rear wheels turn in opposite directions to make it behave like a shorter wheelbase car), but helps achieve stability at speeds of 80km/h and above. This makes it benign for more people to drive the cars fast, but arguably takes something away from the traditional dynamic characteristics of a rear-engine, rear-drive car that owners of 964s/993s continue to enjoy.
There’s a new knob on the steering wheel that comes in conjunction with the Sport Chrono Package to let the driver toggle between various driving modes. For PDK models, this knob has a centre button to let the driver engage a customised performance burst that lasts 20 seconds – this can be activated during overtaking for instance.
There’s tonnes of grip from the C2S’s 20-inch rubber, so it’s possible to attack the corners with plenty of confidence, especially with the engine in full fury. However, we also enjoyed the sweeter balance of the C2; its deficit in engine performance versus the C2S was barely noticeable on the winding roads. Furthermore, the standard 19-inch footwear gave it an agility that belied its size, and permitted you to lead it on a merry dance along the serpentine roads. The new models sound angry and appropriately belligerent, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t miss the distinctive mechanical soundtrack of the naturally-aspirated cars.
What does this mean for the other models in the 991.2 line-up?
Turbocharging puts cars in a whole new performance bracket compared to their naturally-aspirated counterparts. At full flight, the 991.2 C2S now hits 100km/h from standstill in under 3.9 seconds (with Sport Plus and PDK). To put this in perspective, the 991.1 GT3 takes 3.5 seconds, but we’re guessing a 991.2 GTS (if/when it appears) will nudge the 0-100km/h time even closer to this. Now we already know that Porsche isn’t in a habit of letting the regular models come close to its motorsports-fettled GT brethren, so what happens to the rumoured manual-only 911R? Will it get the rumoured GT3 engine or something more now?
NEED TO KNOW Porsche 911 Carrera (Carrera S)
Engine 2,981cc, 24V, flat-6
Power 370hp (420hp) at 6500rpm
Torque 450Nm (500Nm) at 1700-5000rpm
Gearbox 7-speed PDK
Top Speed 293km/h (306km/h)
0-100km/h 4.2 (3.9) seconds (with Sport Plus)
Fuel efficiency 7.4 (7.7) L/100km
CO2 169 (174)g/km
Price $446,088 without COE ($508,888 without COE)
Availability First half, 2016
READ MORE > Why Porsche switched to turbo power for the 991