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Driven: Queue forms for turbocharged Porsche 911

Puff daddy: Porsche’s facelifted 911 Carrera gets active suspension as standard equipment, to not only aid handling but smooth out the bumps.

Sales records set to tumble again as Porsche customers queue for new turbo 911

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Porsche logo10 Feb 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

PORSCHE Cars Australia (PCA) predicts turbo power will blow it to its fourth consecutive annual sales record this year, despite the misgivings of a few traditionalists about the introduction of forced induction on the 911 Carrera for the first time in its 53 years.

The company says that far from being unhappy with the move, customers are already queuing for the latest 911 coupe and cabriolet with the 3.0-litre turbocharged engine that is not only more powerful than its normally aspirated predecessor but – thanks to downsizing – more fuel efficient.

The new powertrain arrived this week in the 911 Carrera as part of a major mid-life makeover for the 991-model that breezed onto the scene in 2012.

It will not be the last model from the German luxury sportscar-maker to get turbo assistance this year, with the 911 Carrera 4 getting the new turbo flat six in a few months, followed later in the year by the revised Boxster and Cayman siblings that will get a new four-cylinder version of the blown boxer engine.

Of course, the granddaddy of the lot, the 2016 Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S with up to 427kW of power, will thunder along about mid year.

Speaking at the Australian press launch for the 911 Carrera in Tasmania this week, PCA public relations director Paul Ellis said loyal Porsche customers appeared to have no qualms about the switch to turbocharging.

He said he would not be surprised to see last year’s 911 sales tally of 377 units – second only to 2007’s record 522 vehicles – beaten this year, thus helping PCA to eclipse last year’s company sales record of 4090 units.

Mr Ellis said the 911 had remained “the king” of luxury sportscars in Australia through several generations, despite some major changes that had some motoring journalists predicting doom over the years.

“Remember when water-cooled engines were supposed to be the death knell for the 911?” he said.

Prices on the latest Carrera coupe and cabriolet ranges jump by between $9200 and $9800, which PCA attributes to a combination of additional specification and exchange rate slippage.

The range now kicks off with the Carrera coupe manual at $217,800 before on-road costs, and tops out with the Carrera S cabriolet automatic at $280,250.

As always with Porsche, the exterior design changes to the latest 911 are restrained, but aficionados will note the reshaped front bumper with bigger air openings and new-look headlights with four-point daytime running lights – a new Porsche signature.

To improve aerodynamics, the flaps in the front air openings close when not needed – a trick pinched from the 918 hybrid supercar.

New door handles (now a conventional pull type), a redesigned rear deck engine air intake grille and relocated twin exhaust tailpipes are among other tweaks.

The biggest change to the latest 911 is the heart transplant, with a new bi-turbo six-cylinder boxer engine replacing the normally aspirated flat six of the series one 991 Carrera and Carrera S.

At 3.0 litres, the engine is smaller than the 3.4-litre and 3.8 litre engines of the superseded Carrera and Carrera S, but nevertheless belts out 15kW more power and 60Nm of extra torque in both instances.

In the base Carrera, peak power of 272kW is achieved at 6500rpm, while top torque of 450Nm kicks in at just 1500rpm – considerably lower than before – and runs all the way to 5000rpm.

While the Carrera S’s engine this time around is the same capacity as that of the Carrera, some hot-rodding of the turbos, exhaust and engine management software lifts peak power to 309kW at 6500rpm. Maximum torque of 500Nm comes on stream at a slightly higher 1700rpm but also keeps churning until 5000rpm.

To put that in perspective, the very first blown 911, 1975’s legendary Porsche 930 with its prodigious whale-tail spoiler and equally prodigious turbo lag, achieved a mere 190kW of power and 343Nm.

And while the 930 had a four-speed manual gearbox, the new breed comes with choice seven-speed manual or optional seven-speed dual clutch PDK (add $5950), with the latter heavily revised compared with the ‘box in the series one 991 911.

The new turbo engine powers all the way to 7500rpm, when most blown productions engines have well run out of puff.

As always, the engine and transmission are mounted behind the 2+2 passenger cabin, driving the rear wheels.

With more engine performance on tap, the latest Carrera with the slick-shifting PDK and optional Sport Chrono package bolts from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 4.2 seconds – 0.2 seconds faster than before – while the Carrera S makes the dash in 3.9 seconds (also 0.2 seconds faster), and thus becomes the first 911 Carrera to bust 4.0 seconds. Top speed is said to be 345km/h.

Downsizing the engine helps to slash fuel consumption by 12 per cent, with the Carrera now achieving 7.4 litres of premium unleaded per 100km (a cut of 0.8 litres), and the Carrera S getting 7.7L/100km (down 1.0L).

The good news keeps coming with the adoption of Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) across all Carreras as standard fare. Apart from dropping the ride height by 10mm, the system offers two manually selected driving modes for sports driving and comfort.

Handling is said to be improved on uneven roads, thanks to new springs and dampers that soak up the knocks better. If drivers want more, a sports suspension package is optional.

For improved traction, 10mm wider rear 20-inch wheels with matching specially developed tyres have been introduced.

Carrera S buyers can tick the box for a four-wheel steering system that turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels under 50km/h for greater manoeuvrability, and then in the same direction as the front wheels above 80km/h at highway speeds for greater stability.

Inside, the biggest gain is Porsche’s new infotainment system with an easier-to-master touchscreen.

Adaptive cruise control is optional.

2016 Porsche 911 Carrera pricing*
Coupe$217,800
S Coupe$252,800
Cabriolet$239,300
S Cabriolet$274,300
*Excludes on-road costs

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