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Opening up the Porsche 911 Carrera S

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Justin Pritchard
The flat-six bolted to the rear of the Porsche 911 Carrera S is curiously clattery and unrefined when it first achieves ignition and settles into idle. Until there’s some heat in the engine, it sounds delightfully messy – sort of like an old VW Bug with an exhaust leak.

It’s part of the Porsche flat-six charm – and a prelude to the aural melody waiting on the other end of the tachometer once things warm up. Other drivers drop their windows at intersections to catch a bit of the sound effects, and even the youngest car nuts yell “FLOOR IT!!” when you drive by.

Hit the Carrera S’s SPORT PLUS button and slip the PDK gear shifter into its manual gate, and you’re provided with fingertip control over 7 forward gears and sound effects typically heard only in exotic Hollywood car chase action sequences.

Set up thusly, every prod of the throttle results in an instant, rewarding increase in exhaust volume and forward momentum. Some 400 of the most suspiciously athletic horsepower on the road are all now on full alert, ready to deliver 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds or better while blasting the new 911’s sleeker, lower body along on a never-ending wave of peaky power.

If there was an automotive doping committee, they’d want to have a few words with the Carrera S’s new flat-six engine. I’ve driven cars with 100 or more horsepower than this that don’t pull as hard.

Porsche 911 Carrera S engine
Photo: Justin Pritchard

Buried down low in the back, the naturally aspirated 3.8L unit revs freely and ramps power output sharply upwards at higher revs, thanks to a slick variable valve timing system. It’s like German VTEC.

Hammer on it from a dig, and a deep burble floods the cabin, transitioning into a creamy high-RPM howl that’ll play in your head for hours.

It’s a sound unlike that made by any other engine. Sharp, effortless, and purely mechanical, it leaves a carefully-balanced overlap of intake and exhaust harmonics in its wake. The highest-revving part of that sound is downright angry and alarming. It’s a noise drivers should probably only coax out of their Carrera S on a track.

A 7,600 RPM redline and tall gears mean you’ll get a lot of that flat-six serenade in every gear.



Into second gear, around 70 km/h.



Entering third happens around 120 km/h, or two demerit points – give or take. Max out this gear and you’re going to jail. Four gears remain.

Upshifts take milliseconds and crank the tachometer needle counterclockwise a few degrees at an impossible speed. The advanced dual-clutch gearbox executes those upshifts with a ‘leap’ into the next gear, and with no interruption in power flow.

So, the very sound and sensation of the Carrera S at full rip will coax even the most strong-willed drivers into frequent exploration of its soundtrack.

Careful with the abundant power and tall gears, though. If you’re not, keeping your driver’s license may require bribing your local radar-cop like a Norwegian woman’s soccer referee.

So, it’s perhaps thankful that the Carrera S will achieve great mileage and laid-back comfort when driven gently. And that it has a button to toggle the exhaust system between ‘quiet’ and ‘loud’.
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Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert