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First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupé. Image by Porsche.

First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupé
New Porsche 911 blows in with turbo power, increased agility and improved economy and emissions.


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Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupé

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Porsche's most significant engine change since it went from air- to water-cooled engines arrives with its new turbocharged line-up of 911 Carreras. Here's the S version.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupé
Price: £85,857
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, seven-speed manual
Body style: two-door, 2+2 coupé
CO2 emissions: 199g/km (Band J, £265 per year)
Combined economy: 32.4mpg
Top speed: 190mph
0-62mph: 4.3 seconds (3.9 seconds with PDK and Sport Plus, 4.1 seconds PDK alone)
Power: 420hp at 6,500rpm
Torque 500Nm at 1,700-5,000rpm

What's this?

A seismic step in the evolutionary development of Porsche's iconic 911 model. The entire 911 Carrera range now features turbocharging, with both the Carrera and Carrera S models receiving a newly developed twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat-six engine. This fundamentally changes the character of the 911, the blown six's outputs growing despite the capacity drop over its naturally aspirated predecessors. That's to the benefit of emissions and economy; the Carrera S in PDK guise, for example, has a CO2 emissions figure of just 174g/km, which is remarkable given its ability to reach 62mph in a Sport Chrono assisted 3.9 seconds - making it the first 911 Carrera to sneak under the four-second barrier. The manual car reviewed here manages a still credible 199g/km and 4.3 seconds.

Along with the engine revisions come the inevitable styling and specification changes, the 911 presenting a new face with larger (active) air apertures, revised front lighting, new taillights, restyled door handles, a new engine cover, exhausts and rear bumper. That rear bumper and engine cover have been shaped by the needs of the 911's new heart, the vertical slating directing air both to the engine and the turbos' intercoolers, while the spent air from the intercoolers vent from outlets in the lower bumper behind the rear wheels. Inside, the '911.2' benefits from a completely new infotainment system, operated by a large touchscreen with supplementary buttons below. With it comes greater connectivity for smartphones and apps, along with significantly improved operation and clarity. There's a new 918 Spyder-inspired steering wheel too, and the hybrid hypercar link is even greater if you option the £1,125 Sport Chrono pack, which adds a Mode Switch with individual calibration of the various standard and optional driving functions.

How does it drive?

It was inevitable that the switch from natural aspiration to turbocharged power would fundamentally alter the character of the car. Turn the key for the first time though and you could miss it; the turbocharged engine is slightly muted, though not lacking in aural charm. The redline drops from the heady 8,400rpm of the old 3.8-litre unit in the 911 Carrera S to 7,500rpm, but the way the new engine delivers its performance is the biggest change.

There's more torque for a start; not masses more at 500Nm (over the old car's 450Nm), but with the new car's peak arriving at 1,700rpm and hanging around until 5,000rpm - and its maximum power developed above that at 6,500rpm - it's far more linear. It's the torque curve that changes the 911's character the most, as there's less need to chase that redline, the urge from low revs making the 911 a more flexible and easier car to exploit. That greater potential is offset by the very slight loss of immediacy to your foot, but it's a faster car more of the time. As ever there's the option to tailor the 911 to your specific requirements, as evidenced by the S tested here, which came with around £20,000 of optional extras.

The lengthy list includes PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) sports suspension (over and above the standard PASM - Porsche Active Suspension Management), ceramic carbon brakes, rear-wheel steering, Sport Chrono (with active engine mounts), lightweight sports bucket seats, 20-inch RS Spyder alloy wheels and a sports exhaust. Unusually, and welcome here, is the omission of the PDK automatic transmission, this car featuring with the standard seven-speed manual gearbox. Like the rest of the car the manual has been modified for this 991 gen II model, its shift benefitting from improvements that debuted on the GTS model, as well as a two-disc clutch with a centrifugal pendulum that both improves the shift quality and dampens vibrations from the driveline at low speeds.

The changes to the gearshift are marked, the lever crossing its gate with far greater precision and speed, its weight and accuracy significantly enhanced too. PDK is no longer the default choice in the 991, though it too benefits from changes to its operation for quicker speed and improved efficiency. What's clear with the gen II is that the 911's ability as a rounded and capable GT car have been improved further; it's smoother, lower rev power delivery is to the benefit of day-to-day driveability, but that's not to the detriment of its credentials as a engaging sports car. The suspension has been recalibrated for the updated model too, with new spring and damper rates, while a wider rear tyre and, here at least, the option of rear-wheel steering, adding to the car's agility. The steering weight and feel is vastly improved too, the nose more immediate to turn in, assisted by that rear-wheel steer system, making it worth the £1,553 premium it carries.

The 20hp increase in power the engine gains isn't as notable as the engine's greater flexibility, which, allied to the improved steering response, makes the 911 Carrera S a sensationally capable car. The optional PDCC system allows it to ride with a suppleness that's remarkable given the 20-inch wheels and low-profile tyres. Those active anti-roll bars allow near roll-free cornering even at the exceptional speeds it's so adept at carrying. Grip levels are, unsurprisingly, high. The PSM (Porsche Stability Management) features three levels of assistance: on, PSM Sport with heightened thresholds and off. Brake heavily enough in either PSM Sport or off to have anti-lock brakes activate and the PSM's full range of assistance activates until the brake pedal is released.

The 991's core competence remains then; it's a ridiculously capable and enjoyable sports car that's also able to deliver the full GT experience when the roads are less interesting. The brakes, here featuring the optional carbon ceramic discs, are unending in their ability to wash off speed, the pedal never going long, the response consistently strong. Not all the options are welcome though; choose the Sport Chrono pack and the Sport and Sport+ modes bring a throttle blip on downshifts, so it only leaves you to it if you switch PSM to off - the non-Sport Chrono (but still Sport button equipped) standard Carrera S does without the electronic heel and toe. You'll forsake active engine mounts for that, but it's worth it for the lack of artificial interference it brings.

You don't need to be quite as busy with the manual transmission, either. The engine's greater low-rev torque means you no longer need to wring it out to its upper revs for it to produce its best; corners that would have required second gear in the gen I 991 can be taken in third. There's still fun to be had in wringing it out in second, it just gives you more choice and, regardless of your decision, it's fast, everywhere. The sports exhaust is a must if you're to really revel in the engine's aural output, as it's slightly muted without it. Thankfully it retains the flat-six character of old, though layered with the occasional gasp and flutter that betrays its blown nature. With the sports exhaust there's the odd crackle on the overrun, Porsche doing well to retain the 911's aural signature despite its forced induction.


The Porsche 911 is nothing if not extraordinary in its ability to evolve to suit the prevailing economic, political and social conditions it lives in. With the 991 Gen II Porsche has downsized the engine, improved economy and emissions, yet gained performance. Unsurprisingly, it's a slightly different drive as a result, the turbos, despite their greater performance, add some civility to the proceedings, yet the car retains at its core the agility and performance that makes it such and incredibly able and engaging sports car. It requires some careful option box ticking for it to be at its best, but get that right and it's a ridiculously difficult car to beat.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Kyle Fortune - 12 Nov 2015    - Porsche road tests
- Porsche news
- 911 images

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe. Image by Porsche.


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