The Evolution Continues – Is Porsche’s latest 911 platform the best one yet? We review the 420-hp 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S to find out
Few companies have more experience with turbocharging than Porsche, and it is from this wealth of knowledge and technological wizardry that the German manufacturer has managed to make the latest variant of its venerable, and iconic, 911 platform (991.2) arguably, the best yet.
Also check out: Porsche 911 Reviews
Porsche has embraced the turbocharger to the point that virtually every model in their catalogue now features this marvel of engineering that allows them to produce more power, more efficiently. While turbo technology helps the company meet the increasingly stringent global fuel economy targets and emissions standards set in major markets, it also results in substantial gains in engine performance.
Powertrain: 420-hp 3.0L
The 2017 Porsche Carrera 4S we tested produces a very healthy 420-horsepower and 368 foot-pounds of torque from its all-new twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-6 engine. These figures represent a significant, and very welcome, gain of 20-hp and 43 lb-ft over the previous model’s numbers from its naturally aspirated 3.8-litre engine. The smaller displacement engine comes with the additional benefit of sipping 12-percent less fuel.
Mated to either a 7-speed manual transmission, or a 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, the 911 C4S will accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in a mere 4.2 and 4.0 seconds respectively when launch control is activated. For those PDK buyers looking for an even more visceral experience, adding the Sport Chrono upgrade drops the acceleration figure to a blistering 3.8 seconds.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the PDK, which is undoubtedly one of the best engineered and quickest transmissions available today. The transmission will actively adjust itself so that you are always in the most efficient gear given parameters such as vehicle speed and driving conditions, or you can elect to operate it in manual mode using paddle shifters or the console mounted shift lever.
The driver can enhance its performance using a clever steering-wheel mounted mode dial which offers two additional settings – Sport and Sport Plus – which will alter shift points and reaction time and appeal to the enthusiast or track-day driver. This system also features an “I” setting which can be programmed to the settings of your choice for quick access.
The car also features auto start/stop technology and a brake regeneration system to help offset performance gains with new levels of overall efficiency.
On the road: Driving impressions
When you accelerate you can hear a very subtle whine as the turbochargers spool up to achieve maximum boost and propel the car with authority. The PDK gearbox seamlessly transitions up and down its ratios as required, while the mechanical symphony created by the combination of the flat-6 engine and sport exhaust system will tickle your eardrums and facilitate endless smiles.
Acceleration is strong and there is virtually no turbo lag as the engine sprints towards its 7,400 rpm redline. A novel new feature is the presence of what Porsche calls the Sport Assist button, which when activated will instantly spool up the turbos to maximum boost, engage the aforementioned Sport Plus mode, and select the best gear to execute a 20-second surge of unbridled power. The nose will lift slightly as the car settles back on its haunches, but the tremendous grip of the tires and the assistance of the well-sorted electronic aides on board (Porsche Active Suspension Management –PASM- is standard), will automatically lower the ride height and adjust suspension damping levels as needed.
If you are lucky enough to attend a track day or have a place where you can really extract the most from both the car and driver the 911 C4S is equipped with the Porsche Stability Management Sport system. When activated PSM Sport will neutralize the car’s suite of electronic safety systems and reveal the car’s natural, and very dynamic, handling capabilities. Set up in such a manner the car is best left to the professionals with high-level driving skills and the ability to communicate with the car through the seat.
The car handles with precision, especially when asked to wind its way through a series of turns in succession. There is a minor hint of tail wag when pushed hard, largely due to the car’s weight distribution which is slightly more rearward than that of the previous non-turbo car.
If you pony up the additional funds required to add the Sport package to the menu the car gains rear-axle steering capabilities which will sharpen handling during high-speed transitions and reduce the car’s turning circle.
Porsche’s automobiles always manage to shine in the braking department, so the driver is always guaranteed to have the assurance that the car’s big binders will help scrub off momentum in short order. Should the occasional track day or aggressive driving be on the agenda, Porsche offers ceramic composite rotors as an option.
The 911 Carrera 4S is one of the few sports cars that can be utilized all year round due to the fact that it is equipped with all-wheel-drive. The system transmits power to all four wheels guaranteeing traction under acceleration and when traipsing through the twisty bits of your favourite back road. Its presence helps inspire driver confidence and with a proper winter tire fitted, I suspect the car would be just as impressive in all but the harshest winter conditions.
Revised Styling: Exterior and Interior
The new car also benefits from a host of styling and equipment updates including the move to a quad-LED headlight treatment countered at the rear of the car by low profile elongated LED taillights connected by a narrow light bar. The front fascia has been aerodynamically optimized and now houses the latest in LED fog lights, as well as improved venting.
The side profile is familiar, long and lean, and the car features new wheel designs and low profile door handles. Revisions to the rear deck include an array of vertical, rather than horizontal, vents to help feed air into the turbos and engine. There are also some subtle rear mounted ports that are used to help evacuate hot air from the intercoolers.
The interior has been revised as well, but the improvements and changes are subtle. The most noticeable change is the steering wheel, which now includes the aforementioned drive mode dial to facilitate tweaking the car on the fly. The cabin offers the driver a true cockpit feel, as the leather-clad sport bucket seats used up front fit snugly and hold the occupant in place. The dash is uncluttered and the majority of the controls and switchgear is within easy reach of both hand and eye.
At the top of the centre stack resides the new 7-inch PCM touch screen infotainment system (Porsche Communication Management) which features the latest in apps (Apple CarPlay for example) as well as impressive resolution and improved map characteristics (thanks to access to Google Maps and Street View).
Overall the transition to the turbo power plant has resulted in a more capable car with improved performance characteristics and enhanced fuel economy. The continued evolution of the 911’s styling, both inside and out, delivers a much more refined package which will help the now iconic model maintain its solid share of this increasingly crowded segment of the automotive marketplace.
Learn more – Porsche Carrera 4S
Technical specifications: 2017 Porsche 911 Carerra 4S
Type: Four passenger coupe
Layout: All-wheel-drive, rear-engine
Base price (CAD MSRP): $127,900 (Manual) – $131,560 (PDK)
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-6 cylinder.
Horsepower: 420@ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft): 368 @ 1,700
Transmission: 7-Speed manual or optional 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic
Brakes (front/rear): Disc/disc
Weight: 1.510 kg.
Cargo capacity: 125 litres
Fuel Economy (L/100km): 11.0 city / 8.5 highway
2017 Porsche 911 Carerra 4S Gallery: