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Porsche 911 Carrera S 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
8

There is a button in the latest Porsche 911 that changes the world.

It has the ability to transform the sports car flagship from an easygoing cruiser into a certified rocket ship.

Porsche dubs it the Sport Response button. It comes with the $4790 Sport Chrono pack and it’s positioned just below the right-side spoke on the steering wheel.

Touch it lightly at 80km/h in sixth gear and it whacks the transmission back to third, primes the turbo engine for maximum boost with 500Nm, changes all the settings to maximum response, and allows instant access to warp speed.

In the racing world it would be called a Push-to-Pass button and it does the same job on the road. Woo-hoo.

We’re talking about turbo with a small t and not the capital T of the 911 Turbo.

It’s the highlight of my time with the 2016 version of the 911, which somehow gets better every time I drive it.

This year, the 911 update is all about a change to turbocharged engines for the Carrera and Carrera S, with some minor cosmetic and equipment updates including bigger brakes and tyres. The same sort of turbo transformation is taking place with the smaller Boxster and Cayman.

We’re talking about turbo with a small t and not the capital T of the 911 Turbo. The latter is still one of Porsche’s halo cars, whereas the new turbo models are about certifying the 911 for the current generation of emission and economy legislation.

So they are quick but not stupidly fast. They are costly — the Carrera S for The Tick test runs at $295,820 and the base price is $252,800.

Porsche has been heavily into turbocharging of its flat-six engines since the racing days in the 1970s, so it’s a relatively easy job for the roadgoing 911.

There are plenty of plus points, most notably the torque rush and the access to 309kW of peak power, more than good enough for a 270km/h top speed in the rest of the world and, in Australia, a 0-100km/h sprint of 3.9 seconds.

The 911 turbo is also easier to drive, gets impressively good economy (it’s rated officially at 7.7L/100km) provided you stay well clear of the Sport Response button — and provides the sort of easygoing driving which means it’s more than just a Sunday fun car.

To get the nasty stuff away first, the 911 is very costly and quite noisy. The list of options is long and expensive and, although the car can be fine on some surfaces, running on concrete freeways and coarse secondary bitumen can create awful road noise.

It’s also very hard to pick the new car from the old one. That’s always been part of the 911 program and something that’s easy for fans to accept, but if I was buying a 911 I would want everyone else to know I had the new one.

Drive time with a 911 is always like a catch-up with an old friend, perhaps with a new hairdo. The gurgling turbo exhaust, which sounds to me more like a diesel truck than a sports car, is a giveaway on the 2016 update but I’m not really seeing the changes to the lamps or the tweaking in the cabin.

The Mode selector alters the car’s performance settings and I can’t resist using the Sport Response button. Rear-seat space is good for my gangly seven-year-old and the car pampers the driver with quality switchgear and classy leather trim.

The 911 does what I want, when I want.

The first impression from the new turbo engine is impressive, with zero lag between my right foot and the engine room. There is a solid surge from idle and the double-clutch gearbox shifts quickly and smoothly.

I love the chassis feel, which combines a creamy ride with incredible cornering grip, and I am also a fan of the latest electric steering.

The 911 does what I want, when I want, and its limits are far beyond the speeds and grip I can muster on public roads.

Basically, it’s now a grand tourer — although some people might question the low-set seats and access to the back — with an incredible turn of force-fed pace.

It will even run with the fuel readout showing 6.0L/100km and sit calmly in seventh-gear with minimal revs.

So one of the world’s great cars just got even better. And, better still, it’s not just a racetrack special like the 911 GT3.

Some people question the change to small-t turbo engines at Porsche but the move is a 21st-century answer to a bunch of 21st-century questions and requirements.

Verdict

Porsche has done a brilliant job on the new 911 and it’s one of my personal favourites despite a price tag which means there will never be enough money to put one in my garage. The Tick? Absolutely yes.

Does turbo with a small t excite you? Let us know in the comments

Click here to see more 2016 Porsche 911 pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$164,725
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$0
Highest Price
$329,450

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Carrera 3.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $141,460 – 162,580 2016 Porsche 911 2016 Carrera Pricing and Specs
Carrera 4 3.0L, ULP, 7 SP MAN $153,230 – 176,110 2016 Porsche 911 2016 Carrera 4 Pricing and Specs
Carrera 4 Black Edition 3.4L, PULP, 7 SP MAN $143,880 – 165,440 2016 Porsche 911 2016 Carrera 4 Black Edition Pricing and Specs
Carrera 4 GTS 3.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $187,550 – 215,600 2016 Porsche 911 2016 Carrera 4 GTS Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8