On Track: Porsche 911 Carrera (2016) review
Before we were allowed to fire up the 4-cylinder in the new Porsche 718, scattered down Yas Marina’s pitlane were several brightly painted and grumbling Porsche Carrera models in very racy specification. The plan was to familiarise ourselves with the new 2016 911 Carrera and Carrera S – launched in South Africa in January of 2016 – and give the models their due credit which was slightly overshadowed by the simultaneous arrival of 911 Turbo and 911 Turbo S.
To go a step further, 911 Carrera and 718 Boxster embody Porsche’s rightsizing strategy which sees smaller turbo charged engines replace the bigger, less efficient, less powerful normally aspirated ones. Success with the Carrera could directly translate to the 718. We’ll get to that soon.
This is the second time I’ve piloted the 2016 Porsche Carrera. I was among the first journalists to lay down thick bands of rubber around a newly refurbished Kyalami. To avoid reiterating those sentiments, I’ve added a few notes from my experience in Abu Dhabi.
While you expect this section to be short and predictable, new 911 Carrera is a modern two-seater with a handsome crispness to it. Small but impactful changes have occurred to the front bumper and with the new nose lift kit you can edge its snout up steeper driveways than before. Lights have advanced Xenon lenses while vents around the rear drive out hot gasses (accelerated by the turbo chargers). The rear spoiler’s vertical slats have elements of earlier designs and even the door handles are new.
The heart of the 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera tees the car up for a massive paradigm shift in firepower and number of new challenges. Both Carrera models are powered by a 3.0-litre six cylinder turbo and output rises to 275kW and 313kW. Fuel consumption has decreased by 12%. For the first time ever, 0-100km/h is dispatched under 4 seconds for Carrera S, closely followed by a 4.2 second sprint for the regular Carrera.
And the engine note is deep. It builds, changes, becomes edgy. It’s real. The engine makes it feasible to introduce new functions like the Sport Response Button which engages the optimum gear while releasing maximum turbo pressure for 20 seconds.
Carrera S models offer four-wheel steering but when compared directly to the fixed system, didn’t mitigate understeer to the extent where we would encourage that price premium. Around the Nurburgring, new Porsche Carrera is 8 seconds faster, quick enough to become a member of the rarefied 7 minute group.
Cornering is flat, brakes give plenty of feedback and driver assist systems allow you squeeze out the power confidently. The talents are bottomless, its level of patience is inspiring and when you dive into Yas Marina’s hairpin at over 200km/h for the tenth time, the mechanicals feel as fresh as they did on lap one.
A rotary switch conveniently located on the steering wheel moves 90 degrees triggering a different driving mode each time. The car starts in Normal mode but Sport and Sport + ramp up the things like throttle and gearbox sharpness while an Individual mode allows deeper customisation of things like Stop/Start and rear spoiler.
Carrera’s other trick is to wrap these motorsport-derived underpinnings in cotton wool for the drive to work and back. The 911 Carrera is the original master of multitasking and even though active dampers are available, they’re not there because Porsche couldn’t sort the fundamentals of a well-balanced ride.
Premium, the best driving position on the planet and for the first time a cabin that is truly connected to your phone. Apple CarPlay synchronises many of the phones’ functions and displays them on the car’s new 7-inch screen – a feature which is best demonstrated by bringing up live navigation which the phone is essentially processing. Shame it alienates Android users from having the same immersive experience.
Don’t be concerned by the move to turbo charging… the new engine brings opportunities that could not be achieved with a normally aspirated engine. Porsche 911 Carrera has raised the bar on every single facet resulting once again in the most resolved sportscar on sale today.