Better boosted?

Porsche embraces turbocharging for the latest 911 Carrera; we hit the jump seat

NATHAN PONCHARD

IT TAKES barely 10 seconds of fullthrottle action in the new twinturbo base 911 Carrera to realise that Porsche fans needn’t have feared the worst. The re-engined 911 sounds just like a flat-six Porsche should, only this entrylevel model goes so much harder than I’d expected it to. As quick as the previous Carrera S, apparently.

It feels incredibly strong from the passenger seat as my slightly crazed driver, Frankfurt local Arnd, throws this 991 Series II PDK around the short circuit at Hockenheim. “I love my job,” Arnd tells me, and it isn’t difficult to understand why. With sports exhaust switched on, the now-standard PASM adaptive suspension in Sport Plus mode, and torque vectoring distributing drive to each outside rear wheel, Stuttgart’s rear-engine icon is slaying this incredible track.

With the tacho needle hitting 7500rpm at each upshift, and plenty of exhaust crackle under brakes, I keep reminding myself this is what we call the ‘base shitter’. All 272kW and 450Nm of it, now capable of hitting 100km/h in 4.2sec and clocking the standing 400m in 12.3sec. Indeed, the slowest new 911 Carrera – a stock seven-speed manual – is good for 4.6, 12.8 and 295km/h.

“[This is] the best Porsche 911 that we have ever developed,” says August Achleitner, Porsche’s ‘king of 911’ engineering. “For more than 40 years we have accumulated experience with this technology [turbocharging] … it’s a response to fuel consumption and tougher limits, but also the key to greater driving pleasure.”

Achleitner admits they had “several difficult discussions” about the 911 Carrera going turbo and decided: “If the new car is not better than the old one, then we don’t let it see the light of day.” But he’s sure the outcome will please the faithful. “To be honest, I love this engine; it is one of the best”.

Porsche wanted its all-new 9A2 bi-turbo flat-six to be better than the 3.8-litre version of the previous atmo 9A1, already one of the greatest engines of our time. And on first acquaintance there’s no reason to doubt Stuttgart’s claims.

Besides some turbo whistle on light throttle, at full noise you’d honestly never know it was boosted. Which sounds like objective achieved.

ALL CHANGE

01

Besides an external valve seal, the engine is completely new. Design is oversquare with 91.0mm bore, 76.4mm stroke, centrally mounted fuel injectors and 10.0:1 compression ratio. Injection-moulded oil pan saves 2kg and has an integrated dry sump. Carrera runs 0.9bar boost for 272kW at 6500rpm and 450Nm from 1700-5000rpm.

More powerful Carrera S runs 1.1bar boost, larger 51mm turbine wheel, different exhaust and modified ECU for 309kW at 6500rpm and 500Nm from 1700-5000rpm.

02

PUMP UP THE VOLUME

All-new 2981cc bi-turbo flat-six is elegantly packaged into 911 Carrera bodyshell without resorting to wider hips or side air intakes, though it weighs 20kg more. It retains a naturally aspirated feel and has its induction howl enhanced by a pair of tuned sound symposers. Sports exhaust is optional on both Carreras, signified by two round centremounted pipes. Standard Carrera gets twin oval pipes, Carrera S round twins on each side.

“IF THE NEW CAR IS NOT BETTER THAN THE OLD ONE, WE DON’T LET IT SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY”– 911 chief August Achleitner

03

RAPID RESPONSE

Sport Plus mode allows the turbochargers to keep spinning when off the throttle by not opening the wastegates, effectively eliminating lag completely. Prioritises response over efficiency when necessary, though the twin-turbo 3.0-litre is up to 12 percent more economical on the combined fuel cycle.

04

BOXING CLEVER

Porsche’s manager for ‘boxer’ engine development, Thomas Brandl, admits the new-generation 9A2 flat-six “will be transferred to future engine concepts”. It has the same bore distance as before, so it could essentially be stretched to 4.0 litres, though 911 product director Achleitner admits that “for the foreseeable future” Porsche will “keep normally aspirated at least for GT3 to offer a different character”.