Turbocharged Carrera review: one year on

Just over a year ago I attended the Frankfurt motor show, where I watched then CEO Matthias Müller unveil the new 991.2 Carrera to the world’s media. I don’t mind saying I was a little apprehensive in the run-up to that silk cloth being lifted from the framework of the latest 911, either.

The adoption of turbochargers for this latest generation Carrera was widely anticipated, the reaction of the final product from press and punters worldwide less so. This move to turbocharging was a greater step for the 911 than its switch from air to water-cooling at the end of the 20th century, so it was simply imperative Porsche got it right. The big question was whether the latest evolution, exacerbated by a need to meet ever-stringent emissions regulations, would ruin the fabled Porsche 911 as we know it.

On paper at least, the new Carrera’s specs impressed. Greater power, increased performance marked by a significantly quicker ‘Ring lap time (Porsche quotes 7 minutes 30 seconds for the 991.2 Carrera S, some seven seconds quicker than the naturally aspirated Gen1, but I’ve heard from reliable Porsche sources the true timing was in fact quicker still) as well as improved emissions and fuel economy.

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However, the acid test would come with a drive in the real world, and in the last year we’ve been lucky enough at Total 911 to rack up thousands of miles at the helm of various 2- and 4-wheel drive incarnations of the new Carrera and Carrera S across Coupe, Cab and Targa bodies. So what do we think of this game-changing new 911, one year on?

Headline news surrounds that ‘controversial’ turbocharged flat six. Far from being a disappointment, this new 9A2 engine is nothing short of a delight. There’s plenty of low-down torque available, which dispels those diesel estates that would previously embarrass Gen1 Carreras from the lights. Lag from the fixed-vane twin turbos is virtually non existent, and we’re rewarded with a peaky redline of some 7,400rpm. Essentially its character represents the best of both naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines. If we’re picking picky (which, of course, we are), the turbocharged unit lacks the initial, razor sharp throttle response of the naturally aspirated Gen1’s flat six, but that’s a minor blotch on the copy paper here. In the real world at normal road speeds, you’d be hard pressed to notice.

The elephant in the room is the exhaust note, with blown 911s notorious for their muted acoustics. However, our on-board blast around Laguna Seca with Hurley Haywood last year seemed to put people at ease and, with Sports exhaust optioned, the flat six’s guttural growl is preserved. Granted, it isn’t as raucous in the mid range to redline as Gen1 991 Carreras, but it’s still very animated in tone, even popping when easing off the gas in Sport mode. We like it a lot.

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Other improvements to the Gen2 car include the relocating of the Sport (and Sport plus, when optioned) button to a new Mode dial attached within the circumference of the steering wheel. This change is welcome from a logistical and safety aspect: the driver can now switch between mapping without having to take his or her eyes off the road while fumbling for a push button on the centre console. PASM is also standard equipment on the Carrera now, offering firm damping for sporty driving (read: track use) while retaining civility for day-to-day errands. Apple CarPlay is a useful addition too, though this is never going to be make-or-break in the spec for a true driving enthusiast.

To conclude, then, the new Carrera gets a resounding vote of confidence from Total 911 as a worthy improvement over the brilliant Gen1 without, crucially, abandoning the final strands of that true 911 DNA we know and love. In fact, in our head-to-head test between Gen1 and Gen2 991 Carreras in January, we commented on our surprise at how quickly the new turbocharged car won us over, head and heart.

After such a gushing appraisal I must point out I’ve no agenda with Porsche here. I truly shared the anxiety of 911 enthusiasts worldwide who this time last year suspected the new 991 would represent a change too far for the 911 as we know it. Luckily, we need never have worried.

 

Total 911’s 991.2 Carrera Positives

+ Turbocharged flat six is gutsy and high revving; has character

+ Sound track is still animated, familiar flat six howl still prevalent

+ Basic manual 911 now the sweet spot of the Carrera range

 

Negatives

– Lacks razor-sharp throttle response of NA 991

– Steering feel still far removed from mechanically assisted cars up to and including 997

– PDK too clinical for road use

 

What do you think of the Gen2 991 Carrera? Comment below or tweet us: @total911

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