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2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Review

The Porsche 911’s legend continues to grow. Some cars slow down, but a handful of examples refuse to be overshadowed by others. I’m thinking, in North America, about the Ford Mustang, the Chevy Corvette, and, well, that’s about it. 

The 911 has become more than just a car in the last few years: Owning one is nothing short of being part of something great and almost cult-like. However, unlike a cult, the rules are simple: Enjoy the car, drive the car, and love the car. 

When you’re talking about a car with such pedigree and performance as the Porsche 911, how could any owner not? 

Those joining the 911 clan this year are lucky and perhaps unlucky at the same time. With the 2017 model year comes critical changes that leave the skin practically unscathed, but the story below is completely different. The new 991.2 generation 911 Carrera has abandoned its normally aspirated engine for smaller-displacement, turbocharged units. The results are both good and bad.

The Good
The new 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera is faster and more efficient than ever. This part you might have guessed. The 3.0L flat-6 cylinder engine replaces both the 3.4L and 3.8L units, and output variations between the Carrera and Carrera S are mostly boost-related. The bottom-ring 911 now produces 370 horsepower, which is more than enough for serious fun. 

Only 10 years ago, a balls-out, crazy-fast 911 Turbo pushed out 470 horsepower; today, the relatively tame 911 Carrera S delivers 420. With the Sport Chrono package and superb PDK dual-clutch transmission, this model will reach 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. A manual 997 Turbo hits it in 3.7 seconds. I believe I mentioned fast. 

My tested 911 Carrera S Cabriolet featured the PDK and tallied nearly $150,000 with all the options that were included. Normally, I would chastise a car like this one for being a luxury poseur car, but this specific Porsche is designed to do exactly what it will be purchased to do. Unlike the new Nissan GT-R for example, no specific efforts were put forth to make the 911 quieter or smoother. If the desire is for something more hardcore, there are other versions for that. 

Once under way, the twin-turbo H6 produces gobs of torque, more precisely 368 lb-ft from 1,700 to 5,000 rpm. The push is sustained and impressively linear all the way beyond 6,500 rpm, when max power is delivered. In the course of crushing nearly all other cars from the line, the PDK masterfully coaxes each gear to do its thing ― it’s a real marvel of technology. 

Personally, a Porsche 911 Carrera must be driven in Sport mode, the suspension on normal, and the PDK in manual mode. With the top down, the sense of wellbeing is difficult to describe. If only for one week a year, I feel like I’m part of that cool cult, as if I’m automatically a friend of my neighbour who owns an Inca Gold Carrera from the mid-70s.

The Bad 
It’s just not the same. I love all things turbo, of course, but some things are usually better left as they are. Would you dip your veggies in spicy mustard? No, but it might be good. Most of us prefer onion dip. A normally aspirated Porsche 911 Carrera is onion dip, while the 3.0L turbo is mustard. My point is that a turbocharged Carrera is an acquired taste. 

Throttle response is rubbery compared to the previous generation. Yes, torque is rapidly on tap, but it feels very different ― the event as revs climb has all but disappeared, the flat-6 crescendo no more. 

Heck, the sound produced by the engine is muffled (a typical characteristic of turbocharged mills), even with the sport exhaust activated ― I honestly kept double-checking every other minute to see if I had turned it on while driving. From 400 metres away, I know when my neighbour revs up his 911; with the new car, I need to listen in. 

Oddly, the changes made to the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster did not affect me as much, but then, it’s not a 911. 

A brilliant road car
Regardless of the trim or body style, the Porsche 911 Carrera is and will always be an outstanding driving machine that excels at speed and behaves like a true gentleman in the city. 

Steering is typically Porsche where response is immediate and communication is clear. A rear-wheel drive model transmits no falsehoods, whereas an all-wheel drive Carrera 4 can sometimes blur the information due to the added weight. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is now standard across the board and plays a huge role in the 911’s endearing road manners. “Normal” mode is suitable in 99% of road conditions, while “Sport” is perfect for highways, or better yet, the track. 

The 911’s refinement flows from every aspect that makes it whole. The chassis is built with high-strength steel and aluminum, thus making the car feel solid and rattle-free despite the power soft-top. Cowl shake is nearly non-existent ― this is a properly sorted road car.

The cabin is equally brilliant. The optional Power Sport Seats do a wonderful job of countering Gs and long distances. The new Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system is beautifully integrated into the dashboard. The 7” touchscreen provides navigation, audio, and all manners of communication functions. 

Aesthetically, the new 911’s aerodynamics were revised, while the rear air intake and its new longitudinal vanes look absolutely fantastic. I also applaud the 918-inspired taillights and the beefier front end. The 911 continues to evolve, but its design remains timeless ― an impressive feat.

The big picture says this is the way to go
The new 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera is better on fuel, obviously quieter, and by default more cultured. Although I’d rather not see sports cars go in this direction, it is inevitable. Thankfully, we can always count on Porsche and its numerous versions of the 911 to keep everyone happy. Happiness is good for the soul. 

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Photos:M.St-Pierre
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S cabriolet pictures