First Drive: 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet

The island of Tenerife is situated off the coast of West Africa. It is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands and provides a unique setting in which to test drive the new 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe and Carrera S Coupe and Cabriolet. A one-of-a-kind locale fit for a radically different 911.

Welcome to the turbo era at Porsche. My initial thought was this could cause the Porsche faithful to stampede in protest, but after spending time driving the new 911 and 911 S, I can say with a fair amount of certainty; the added power of twin-turbos is certain to put a smile on even the most devout water or air-cooled boxer believer.

Power comes in the form of a 3.0-lite 6-cylinder twin-turbo horizontally opposed engine. The 2017 911 Carrera develops 370 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 331 lb-ft of torque at 1,700- 5,000 rpm.  Zero to 100 km/h takes just 4.6 seconds when equipped with a manual transmission or 4.4 equipped with the PDK (4.2 with Sport Chrono package). Top speed is listed at 295 km/h.

By comparison, the new 911 Carrera S Cabriolet I am driving inspires with 420 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 368 lb-ft of torque also at 1,700- 5,000 rpm. In this case, reaching 100 km/h takes 4.5 seconds in the manual, 4.3 with the PDK and .2 seconds less when adding the Sport Chrono package for a total of 4.1 seconds. Top speed is listed at 306 km/h in manual form.

To put this in perspective, turbocharging the 6-cylinder engine provides a 20 horsepower increase and an improvement of 44 and 43 lb-ft of torque respectively. Redline is set at 7,500 rpm and I push it hard on several occasions to the maximum. Surprisingly, the sound of the exhaust is comparable to that of the previous normally aspirated Porsche 911, with an occasional whir of the turbo added for good measure.

Exterior changes are mostly cosmetic, the obligatory bulging round headlights, dramatically sloped rear quarter and slippery outer shell are iconic. Changes include new four-spot LED headlights, larger front air intakes, and side intakes with active flaps for improved aerodynamics and 3D rear taillights make a dramatic statement.

Interior driving dynamics offer everything you expect in a Porsche 911 and more. The leather-wrapped 3-spoke brushed metal steering wheel feels prefect in my hands, thumb grips and an indented rest provide the ultimate control. Porsche’s typical 5 round dial dash layout is centered as always by the tachometer, with speedo and oil pressure to the left, navigation and info plus engine temperature to the right.

The sweeping center console has become a lot busier over the years, my initiation with the Porsche 911 began in 1984, but it doesn’t overwhelm to the point of useless excess.

A 7-inch multi-touchscreen provides important information and navigation. Below this resides a series of easy access buttons for the heated seats and HVAC control. The center gear lever is comfortable in my hands and clutch pedal feel is excellent, taking me back to the days when a manual transmission was the only way to drive. Not so anymore with PDK.

Seats are right up there with any comparable exotic sports car and maybe just a little bit better. Back, hip, thigh and shoulder support is exceptional. There is even a back row with seating for two children or a great place to toss your briefcase and a few other items on your way into and out of work. Trunk space, though minimal, is in the front, of course, and the ignition key to start the newest Porsche 911 remains to the left of the steering wheel.

Driving the 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet on volcanic Tenerife inspires me to push hard through the severe S-turns and two-lane highways that circumnavigate the island. The twists and turns come fast and furious, sometime to the point of nausea, but I am not complaining. It’s as if the car and road are one. There is a lot to be said for German engineering at its best and a 54-year track record of fun. Meet the new boss; same as the old boss only better!

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet:

Base Price: $132,900.00
Price as tested: $153,900.00
Freight: $1,085.00
Configuration: rear engine/rear-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.0L 6-cylinder/ 6-speed
Power/torque: 420 hp/ 368 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): regular (64.1L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): N/A
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Audi R8, Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar F-TYPE, Maserati GranTurismo.

Related Links:
The Globe and Mail
Porsche Canada

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