New Zealand Classic Car - - FEATURE CAR -

To­gether, the words ‘Porsche’ and ‘turbo’ con­jure images of fast wide-bod­ied rearengined flat-six cars with the abil­ity to tear your face off at a mo­ment’s no­tice (maybe sev­eral mo­ments, in the case of some of the older-gen­er­a­tion cars). To even the most ca­sual Porsche fan, the ‘turbo’ moniker rep­re­sents the brand’s abil­ity to push the lim­its of engi­neer­ing and add a dash of lu­nacy to the 911. But now when you think of a 911 that’s turbo, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean you’ll be go­ing home in a cas­ket. This is be­cause the new 911 has been fit­ted with not one, but two tur­bocharg­ers, in the name of bet­ter econ­omy and re­duced emis­sions.

I know what you’re think­ing: the 911 can’t be turbo un­less it’s the Turbo. Nat­u­rally as­pi­rated flat-sixes are what make 911s the cars they are.

Now, I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool Porsche fan, so I can say this eas­ily enough: adapt or die. If tur­bocharg­ing makes sense to the brand we ad­mire for cre­at­ing 911s year upon year — all the while mak­ing them eas­ier to drive, less likely to kill you, and a wee bit faster — so be it.

Of course, Porsche sen­ti­men­tal­ity means a good por­tion of read­ers won’t be con­vinced by be­ing told that as the world changes, we must change with it. They will ar­gue that in this PC world gone mad, surely our fi­nal refuge of sense­less in­dul­gence is that of the fast car. So, has Porsche man­aged to progress its most im­por­tant car fur­ther, while chang­ing tack en­tirely on what drives it? Let’s see.

The cool fac­tor

Im­por­tantly, the 911 looks great. Not so os­ten­ta­tious that you couldn’t take it to a TPPA protest with­out get­ting mauled, yet low and wide enough to say “I’m a so­phis­ti­cated thug who’s ready to play”. There have been sev­eral small tweaks around the body for this new-gen­er­a­tion 991, but, to the un­trained eye, it has stuck with what was work­ing on this car’s pre­de­ces­sor. The wider arches of the all-wheel-drive cars (44mm over the two-wheel drives) don’t nec­es­sar­ily let you dis­cern be­tween the two, so a seam­less light strip across the rear has been in­stalled on all four-paw mod­els, just so you know who’s go­ing to leave you for dust in the cor­ners or who might leave you in a cloud of dust if the trac­tion con­trol gets switched off.

Our test car for a few days was fin­ished in Agate Grey, which borders on a slate-brown colour (we liked it), and rode on 20-inch Car­rera Clas­sic wheels. Per­haps be­cause we drove mainly in and around cen­tral Auck­land, the 911 barely raised an eye­brow from fel­low com­muters and — in our opin­ion — this is a good thing. In days gone by, if you were driv­ing a 911, you were a con­sid­ered a bit of a — well, a 911 driver. Now that there are so many Audis and BMWS that have been done up by the fac­tory and the end-user to look fancier than the 911, you could al­most ar­gue it’s mod­est to look at. There is a sense that the gaudi­ness of Porsche own­er­ship has dis­si­pated some­what since the re­lease of the Cayenne, the Panam­era, and, most re­cently, the Ma­can, as the brand dips its toes into the fam­ily-friendly wa­ters of su­per­mar­ket runs and restau­rants at which one might eat free on one’s birth­day.

Re­place­ment for dis­place­ment

The new 911-stan­dard twin-turbo 3.0-litre en­gine has proven that there is, in fact, a re­place­ment for dis­place­ment. Although forced in­duc­tion has been a way of life for a num­ber of other brands’ per­for­mance cars for a few years now, Porsche has been squeez­ing ev­ery last bit of power it could from the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated flat-sixes. This midgen­er­a­tion change is a sen­si­ble move from Porsche. Get­ting the buy-in from cus­tomers who re­al­ized the first gen­er­a­tion was a good car means we can never look back at the en­tire 991 model range and say yuck, as some (many) did with the 996.

Both the Car­rera and Car­rera S have dropped their re­spec­tive 3.4 and 3.8 en­gines in favour of the 3.0-litre unit. The 911 Car­rera jumps from 257kw (345hp) to 272kw (364hp). The Car­rera S’s num­bers are even bet­ter — 309kw (414hp), up from 294kw (395hp). Pretty im­pres­sive given that, in terms of Porsche’s re­cent his­tory, th­ese are very, very sim­i­lar num­bers to those of­fered by the first gen­er­a­tion 997 GT3 and GT3 RS.

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