Written by Karl Peskett
When Porsche changed its 911 Carrera from air-cooled to water-cooled engines, purists were incensed. Hang onto your hats, though; an even more dramatic shift is happening to the 911 – turbocharging.
For years, the 911 has been the poster child for throttle response and engine sound. It was touted as the technological leader in naturally aspirated powerplants. But a change is in the winds. Turbocharging is the enemy of a characterful din. It muffles the intake and interrupts a free-flowing exhaust. So news that the latest 911 Carrera has not one but two turbochargers will be an arrow through the heart of Porsche purists.
While they may cry foul, people who appreciate good engineering will ignore such empty speech. Turbos bring more power, a heap more torque, and reduced fuel use. Sound, therefore, may not be such an important consideration after all. But listen to the new 911 Carrera S and you’ll realise that ear-tickling mechanical symphonies are still on offer.
Sure, it’s different from what we’re used to from Zuffenhausen, with a slightly less metallic tune, but the induction roar and exhaust notes have been tuned specifically to keep more of the smile-inducing wail that Porsches are renowned for. More importantly, the engine now makes a healthy 420bhp, propelling it to 100kph in 3.9 seconds, the quickest the 911 Carrera has ever been. Porsche’s PDK gearbox is as fast as ever, switching ratios literally quicker than the blink of an eye. And the super-responsive steering means that turn-in is sharper than it’s ever been. But the 911 is now more controllable as well.
For years, the engine has been hung over the back axle, giving it a bit of a pendulum effect when the car starts to slide. While the engine is in the same spot, it’s smaller, meaning less metal and less inertia when carving up the corners. Combined with a brilliant stability control programme and an optional rear-steer system (which turns the rear wheels slightly), the latest 911 is far more balanced and neutral when searching out apexes.
There’s also a drive controller taken from the 918 Spyder hypercar that alters shift points, suspension firmness, and ESC settings to take the car from a cruiser to a bruiser. Inside, you’ll find the same beautiful build and high-quality materials we’re used to from Porsche.
With a move to greater efficiencies, turbos will become ubiquitous. The most important thing is how the car works as a package. A 911 has to be able to be driven every day, it has to be accomplished on a track, and it has to feel special. Put simply, this one does. It’s now a better car than ever.
If turbochargers are the future, then our future looks very bright indeed.
Like this car? Then also try this:
Jaguar F-Type CoupÉ R
With a supercharged V8 and rear-wheel drive, the swoopy F-Type Coupé R is something very special. It’s more than just its powertrain – it’s the combination of beautiful curves, an astonishing exhaust crackle, and sublime handling. Sure, it’s not the most practical car ever made, but when it looks, sounds, and goes like this, there will be few complaints. Except of course, the continuous, expensive tyre bill... well, we have to have fun, don’t we?