The Carrera S as driven here is claimed to come in at 1415kg with its optional PDK gearbox – some 40kg under the kerb weight of its predecessor.
What’s it like
Inside, there’s a new dashboard, a high-set centre and contemporary looking switchgear. It’s a classy, modern driving environment but it’s not devoid of classic touches.
The first thing that hits you as you set off is the all round improvement in refinement. Never lacking in this area, it is now considerably quieter than before, with less buffeting around the door mirrors, lower levels of mechanical noise from the rear and, despite those 20-inch tyres, less tyre roar.
Cruising at a steady 80mph in the tall seventh gear, the 911 feels remarkably relaxed. The reworked suspension absorbs transverse joints in the road surface and copes with potholes with greater aplomb than before. With the Porsche Active Stability Management PASM in Normal mode the chassis takes on a new-found calmness. Switching the PASM into Sport instantly heightens the responses – not only in terms of damping firmness but the directness of the steering and sensitivity of the throttle, too.
But there is still less initial impact harshness than with the previous 911, something that makes Sport mode more suitable over a wider range of road surfaces, and body movements are wonderfully controlled.
A big surprise are the unfamiliarly subtle messages – or is the lack of them – being relayed back from the newly designed steering wheel. Over the years we’ve become accustomed to the joggling inherent in all 911s up until now. Anyone who has driven one will know what I mean. This inherent on centre movement of the steering wheel at the straight ahead, a measure of liveliness and feedback many consider part and parceled of the driving experience, has been eliminated entirely through the adoption of a new electro-mechanical steering system.
It is certainly a big change in character, making the car feel almost anaesthetized on first acquaintance – if only because it’s so unfamiliar to drive a 911 whose steering wheel does not constantly fidget, even at moderate speeds. But it seems the further you drive the more you come to appreciate the added calmness through the steering wheel.
Despite holding on to what is essentially the same engine as the old model, Porsche has held true to 911 tradition by raising the output. Power climbs by 14bhp to a new peak of 394bhp at 7400rpm, in the process taking its specific output beyond 100bhp per litre. Torque also improves by 13lb ft to 234lb ft at 5600rpm. With the drop in weight figured in, the bump in reserves provides for a 16bhp per tonne increase in the vital power-to-weight ratio at 282bhp per tonne.
Unlike the engine, the gearbox the new 911 Carrera S uses is all new – and rather special, too. Replacing the old six-speed manual is the first ever seven-speed manual to make its way into a series production road car. Based around the seven-speed PDK gearbox, the ground-breaking manual uses a mechanical lock-out to stop you from inadvertently shifting into seventh. The new top gear can only be selected via fifth or sixth.
Another interesting development is a so-called sailing function, which sees the engine disconnected from the gearbox via the clutch on periods of trailing throttle, allowing it roll freely at idle on slight downhill grades.
The detail changes Porsche has made to the engine give the new Carrera S a gutsier feel across a wider range of revs; it might lack the sheer intensity of some of the engines used by its supercar rivals, but the evergreen flat six remains as stirring as ever.