Track­ing the 2017 Porsche 911

Now even non-turbo mod­els have gone turbo

Ignition - - 1st Gear - STORY AND PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY LEE BA IL IE

Aday spent turn­ing laps on a race track, re­gard­less of the ve­hi­cle be­ing driven, is usu­ally time well wasted. But when the car be­ing wrung out is a Porsche 911, well, that's fun on an en­tirely dif­fer­ent level.

Porsche Cars Canada re­cently in­vited a group of au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ists to Cana­dian Tire Mo­tor­sport Park (CTMP) to sam­ple a hand­ful of 2017 Porsche 911 Car­reras on the Driver De­vel­op­ment Track (DDT), which sits ad­ja­cent to the daunt­ing 10-turn, 3.957-kilo­me­tre Grand Prix track.

Sadly, there were no laps turned on that cir­cuit this time out, but the tar­mac of the up­dated 18turn, 2.88-kilo­me­tre DDT is plenty chal­leng­ing in its own right, es­pe­cially when driven with Porsche ma­chin­ery.

Speak­ing of the cars, Porsche brought sev­eral vari­ants of the 911 along, in­clud­ing the Car­rera S, Car­rera 4, Car­rera 4S and Targa 4S. All were equipped with Porsche's ex­cel­lent PDK 7-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

A rather sig­nif­i­cant change has oc­curred for the 2017 model year – which be­gins the sec­ond it­er­a­tion of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion, known in­ter­nally as the 991-2 – on the en­gine front.

Across the range, the 3.4-litre nor­mally as­pi­rated flat six-cylin­der en­gine has been re­placed with a 3.0-litre twin-tur­bocharged flat six, which de­liv­ers more power and bet­ter fuel econ­omy.

On the non-s mod­els, horse­power and torque from the 3.0-litre checks in at 370 / 331, which is up sig­nif­i­cantly over the 350 / 288 de­liv­ered by the 3.4. Things get even more thrilling on the S mod­els, where the 3.0-litre pumps out 420 horse­power and 368 lb-ft. of torque.

The afore­men­tioned ef­fi­ciency gains are also note­wor­thy. Non-s vari­ants equipped with the 3.0 and PDK now achieve a city / high­way slash­line of 10.6 / 8.0 L/ 100 km, a marked im­prove­ment over the 11.6 / 8.4 fig­ures from a sim­i­larly equipped 3.4 model.

Raw num­bers aside, the 2017 911 is an ab­so­lute de­light to drive on a race track. It sounds great, loves be­ing driven hard and its han­dling is su­perb. While I'm not a race car driver, I pushed these cars as hard as my abil­ity would al­low (which is still quite ag­gres­sive), and was re­warded with an en­gag­ing and en­joy­able driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The 3.0 screams with de­light as I mash the gas and let the PDK go to work with pre­cise shifts that launch the car con­fi­dently through cor­ner ex­its and along the DDT'S long front straight – it was great fun.

Porsche's ad tagline for years has been `there is no sub­sti­tute'. That line has never rung truer.

"ACROSS THE RANGE, THE 3.4-LITRE NOR­MALLY AS­PI­RATED FLAT SIX-CYLIN­DER EN­GINE HAS BEEN RE­PLACED WITH A 3.0-LITRE TWIN-TUR­BOCHARGED FLAT SIX, WHICH DE­LIV­ERS MORE POWER AND BET­TER FUEL ECON­OMY."

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