2017 Porsche 911 First Drive

2017 Porsche 911 Carerra S

The Canary Islands – Yep, this is a big deal. The legendary Porsche 911 Carrera gets a mid-cycle makeover for MY 2017, and its signature rev-hungry naturally-aspirated flat six engines (3.4L Carrera and 3.8L Carrera S) are ditched for a 3.0L twin-turbo flat in two stages of tune – 370 hp and 420 hp. It’s all about efficiency, emissions and, of course with Porsche, increased performance.

The engine cover vents now run north to south, and feed a pair of intercoolers, somehow crammed into the rear haunches. The engine cover vents now run north to south, and feed a pair of intercoolers, somehow crammed into the rear haunches.

Twenty-inch wheels are standard with the 2017 Carrera S. The front end is cleaner, with active air vents that close at 15 km/h, and only open when necessary. Twenty-inch wheels are standard with the 2017 Carrera S. The front end is cleaner, with active air vents that close at 15 km/h, and only open when necessary.

A new rotary switch on the steering wheel gives easy access to drive modes – Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. Press the button in the centre and you get 20 seconds of full attack mode. A new rotary switch on the steering wheel gives easy access to drive modes – Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. Press the button in the centre and you get 20 seconds of full attack mode.

In Sport Plus we attack the winding mountain roads and arrive at a bizarre volcanic moonscape. This S is bloody fast, the standard and revised PASM files the rough edges off the ride, the front end feels more planted, handling more secure, and the turbo-motor's midrange punch transforms the character of the car. In Sport Plus we attack the winding mountain roads and arrive at a bizarre volcanic moonscape. This S is bloody fast, the standard and revised PASM files the rough edges off the ride, the front end feels more planted, handling more secure, and the turbo-motor’s midrange punch transforms the character of the car.

The 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet starts at $116,200. This is a Carrera S Cabriolet – base price $132,200. That volcano last erupted in 1798. If it happens again, the 911’s roof goes up in less than 20 seconds. The 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet starts at $116,200. This is a Carrera S Cabriolet – base price $132,200. That volcano last erupted in 1798. If it happens again, the 911’s roof goes up in less than 20 seconds.

Centre-dash we see the new standard Porsche Communication Management System interface screen with navi, pinch, scroll and swipe functions. Didn’t spend a lot of time with it (a bit busy driving…), but PCM appears vastly more user and smart phone friendly. Centre-dash we see the new standard Porsche Communication Management System interface screen with navi, pinch, scroll and swipe functions. Didn’t spend a lot of time with it (a bit busy driving…), but PCM appears vastly more user and smart phone friendly.

All the better to see you with. New xenons with trademark four-dot LED running lights. All the better to see you with. New xenons with trademark four-dot LED running lights.

The 911’s rear spoiler deploys at 120 km/h but will rise earlier if engine needs more cooling. This Carrera S has the standard exhaust system – the pair of wide spread dual-tips are the clue. The 911’s rear spoiler deploys at 120 km/h but will rise earlier if engine needs more cooling. This Carrera S has the standard exhaust system – the pair of wide spread dual-tips are the clue.

$3750 gets you the Sport Exhaust System with its twin central tips. You will want this. It gives 3.0L a popping, crackling, blaring voice that will put to rest any worries of those turbos damping the aural experience. $3750 gets you the Sport Exhaust System with its twin central tips. You will want this. It gives 3.0L a popping, crackling, blaring voice that will put to rest any worries of those turbos damping the aural experience.

This all-new 3.0L twin-turbo flat six comes in two states of tune. For the Carrera – 370 hp and 331 lb-ft. For the Carrera S – 420 hp and 368 lb-ft. Max torque is available from 1700–5000 rpm. This all-new 3.0L twin-turbo flat six comes in two states of tune. For the Carrera – 370 hp and 331 lb-ft. For the Carrera S – 420 hp and 368 lb-ft. Max torque is available from 1700–5000 rpm.

Blurring the scenery is no problem for this new 911 Carrera S. Yes, it’s more refined, smoother, is up to 12-percent more fuel efficient and now has serene highway manners, but the PDK car it is faster to 100 km/h that the old 3.8 (3.9 sec vs 4.1 sec) and shaved 10 seconds of the Nürburgring lap time. Blurring the scenery is no problem for this new 911 Carrera S. Yes, it’s more refined, smoother, is up to 12-percent more fuel efficient and now has serene highway manners, but the PDK car it is faster to 100 km/h that the old 3.8 (3.9 sec vs 4.1 sec) and shaved 10 seconds of the Nürburgring lap time.

It’s not all about the PDK twin-clutch automatic. The seven-speed manual has been revised for 2017 and it gets a lighter effort clutch. A fabulous gearbox. This manual-equipped yellow S Cabriolet was my favourite of the day. It’s not all about the PDK twin-clutch automatic. The seven-speed manual has been revised for 2017 and it gets a lighter effort clutch. A fabulous gearbox. This manual-equipped yellow S Cabriolet was my favourite of the day.

You’ll be paying $9730 for these ceramic brakes. You’ll be paying $9730 for these ceramic brakes.

This one had it all. Ceramic brakes and a $4630 package that adds active anti-roll bars and 20mm lower PASM Sports Suspension. With top down and the Sport Exhaust blaring, it was absolutely nailed to the road for an evening run up the mountain. Clutch and shift action are brilliant. This one had it all. Ceramic brakes and a $4630 package that adds active anti-roll bars and 20mm lower PASM Sports Suspension. With top down and the Sport Exhaust blaring, it was absolutely nailed to the road for an evening run up the mountain. Clutch and shift action are brilliant.

But let’s not leave the base 370 hp Carrera out of this. While the outgoing 3.4L Carrera could feel a bit off pace before the tach swung hard right, this 2017 370-hp turbo Carrera does not give up much in the way of perceived pace to the bigger brother S. It feels damned fast too, and also benefits from all the improvements to handling, ride quality and fuel economy. But let’s not leave the base 370 hp Carrera out of this. While the outgoing 3.4L Carrera could feel a bit off pace before the tach swung hard right, this 2017 370-hp turbo Carrera does not give up much in the way of perceived pace to the bigger brother S. It feels damned fast too, and also benefits from all the improvements to handling, ride quality and fuel economy.

So, to the verdict. Has Porsche’s push for more civility in the 911 compromised the pure essence of this legendary sports car? Indeed, it’s not as raw or feral, and there will be those who argue that is the whole point of the 911. For me, I tip my hat to Porsche. There were no thoughts of compromise as I blasted up the mountain in the brilliant and bright yellow S Cab. So, to the verdict. Has Porsche’s push for more civility in the 911 compromised the pure essence of this legendary sports car? Indeed, it’s not as raw or feral, and there will be those who argue that is the whole point of the 911. For me, I tip my hat to Porsche. There were no thoughts of compromise as I blasted up the mountain in the brilliant and bright yellow S Cab.

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Peter Bleakney

Peter Bleakney

Peter is a Toronto-based auto writer and member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. Peter bought his first car when he was 15 — a ferrous 1968 Austin Mini — and learned how to swear while porting the head, installing twin SU carburetors, a header and Thrush muffler.