Since 1975, the Porsche 911 Turbo has been the Porschephile’s Porsche. It’s the bucking bronco of the stable, the one they invented the iconic whale-tail spoiler for, to give you that much more of a chance of keeping the thing on the road. For 40 years it’s been the enthusiast’s 911, a car so formidable that if you bought a naturally-aspirated one you’d be committing yourself to years of explaining why you didn’t spring for the turbocharged model.
Well, for 2017, Porsche is feeling generous, and the turbos are trickling down to the base models, the Carrera and Carrera S, consigning their naturally-aspirated flat-six to the Porsche history books, right alongside the pre-1997 air-cooled engine. With fuel economy standards causing everyone from Chevy to Ferrari to abandon natural aspiration for turbocharging, Porsche is replacing displacement for power and economy across the 911 lineup. The all-new engine is 0.4 liters smaller than the outgoing NA mill, but both models enjoy a 20 horsepower bump, with the Carrera now putting out 370, and the S up to a formidable 420. The twin-turbo setup shaves o.2 seconds off the cars’ zero to 60 times as well, with the Carrera now at four seconds, and the S at 3.7. Thankfully putting the rumors to bed, a seven-speed manual is still standard, though Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch automatic is faster.
Outside, you’d be forgiven for not picking up on the differences between the ’16 and ’17 models. The 911 benefits from new headlights, taillights, and a new cooling panel on the rear deck that subtly references the air-cooled 911s keeps the design fresh, while inside, 911 owners benefit from a new infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen that’s fully integrated with Apple CarPlay and Google Maps.
The turbos weren’t the only thing to trickle down to the base models. Both cars now come standard with the Porsche Active Suspension Management system, which can be adjusted via a selector that debuted on the 918 Spyder supercar, and allows drivers to select from Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual settings. Ride height, exhaust volume, transmission settings (for the automatic), and engine stop-start are all adjustable. Also for the first time, four-wheel steering is available on the S, a gift from the Turbo and GT3 models.
If these updates add up to an even more formidable base for the 911 family, it also adds to the bottom line. For 2017, the Carrera coupe sees a $5,100 price jump to $90,395, and the S a $4,500 increase to $104,395. For the droptop versions, a Carrera now runs $102,695 (a $5,500 jump), while the S is now $116,695 ($4,900 more). But remember, Porsche is infamous for their a la carte options list, so don’t expect many Carreras to leave the dealership for under six figures.
Turbo or not, 911s have always been special. With this latest update however, the base cars just got that much more formidable. Since the introduction of the Cayman and Boxster, the bottom end of the 911 line has marched steadily upmarket, and with these latest updates, the gap between the Carrera and the Turbo is closed that much more. For sports car fans, this is a very good thing. For Turbo owners, it’s time to find someone else to pick on.
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