Porsche - High-pressure zone

High-pressure zone

911 Turbo Models (WLTP)*
12.5 – 12.0
l/100 km
284 – 271
g/km
911 Turbo Models (NEDC)*
11.3 – 11.1
l/100 km
257 – 254
g/km
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The turbocharged boxer engine in the rear of the 911 Carrera S delivers 309 kW (420 hp).

One of the greatest strengths of the Porsche 911 is its ability to reinvent itself. Case in point: the latest generation with brand-new turbo engines.

The cloud layer hangs low over the factory gate and does not befit the occasion. Sunnier, more celebratory conditions would be appropriate. After all, this is the first time that the new Porsche 911 is being released into the wild, fully developed and ready for action. A special occasion that promises a great drive—regardless of the weather.

Under a low rumble, the car rolls out of the Weissach Development Center heading north. At first everything feels like it always has. Sure, the new Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system features a larger display. But other differences, such as the optional sports steering wheel from the 918 Spyder, measuring just 360 instead of 375 millimeters in diameter, are subtle.

The fingertips will have to wait their turn to report their findings, because our ears are fully perked now, enjoying utmost priority. Is the familiar soundtrack still there? That sound from the six-cylinder boxer that distinguishes it from all other sports-car engines—ranging from a hoarse rasp to a liberated cry when the tachometer needle swings past the 6,000 mark and rips toward 7,000.

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The engine has impressive acoustics when accelerating. The optional sports exhaust system has centrally mounted tailpipes.

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The optional sports steering wheel comes from the 918 Spyder.

Sure, the 911 Turbo has been around since the 1970s, but it was always a separate entity. The mantra of the engineers in Zuffenhausen used to be “displacement and rpm will determine the rest.” But in a world that is restricting the fuel consumption of its fleets and imposing ever stricter emission standards, the boxer engine also had to advance with the times. So it is now a three-liter model instead of the Turbo’s 3.8 or 3.4. But in exchange it now has two different turbochargers for the Carrera and the Carrera S, respectively. Does this result in a wealth of power but a lack of sound? Far from it! Concern gives way to joy on this country road. With the first hearty stab at the accelerator, the beloved metallic bellow emerges from the rear of our 911 Carrera S. When it wants to, the car can still roar, but this is the great new distinction: it doesn’t have to.

The naturally aspirated Carrera S used to need a hearty 5,000 rpm to fully flex its muscles. The new version not only has 500 as opposed to 440 Nm, but all of this torque is already available at 1,700 rpm. In the Würm River Valley the navigation system suddenly sends us up a steep narrow pass to the left. The situation typically would require a kickdown or multiple downshifts to ramp up torque from a naturally aspirated engine. But the tachometer shows only 2,500 rpm while climbing the hill—higher revs are not needed.

The 911 marches on effortlessly, zooming out from under the dense network of foliage lining the narrow pass and up to the light on the hilltop. The induction tract hisses like frenzied serpents, but the turbochargers, capable of up to 20,000 rpm, have been kept small to ensure immediate throttle response. “Our aim was to have it not feel like a Turbo,” says the head of the 911 model line, August Achleitner. The Carrera S can unleash 420 horsepower if desired. Judging by its responsive power delivery, one can hardly believe what kind of engine is back there and can’t help but think, “They’ve added displacement, haven’t they?”

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At moderate speeds the cooling-air flaps in the front airdam close to save fuel.

No, they haven’t. Instead, they’ve reduced the fuel consumption by as much as a liter according to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The new 911 passes the famous monastery of Maulbronn, emitting a throaty rumble more reminiscent of Tibetan monks’ horns. When driven sedately, the car can cruise at low revs like a Turbo diesel. The boost pressure indicator on the right-hand side of the instrument cluster rests at zero under light acceleration, even on slight inclines.

The villages on this maiden tour have names straight out of fairy tales: Freudental (“Happy Valley”) and Sternenfels (“Starry Cliff”). Narrow church towers rise above jumbled lanes lined by little houses with half-timbered facades. The roads wind through wooded valleys and over rolling hills. This is 911 territory. This is where the car grew up.

But the tranquillity of the landscape and the villages between Stuttgart and Pforzheim is deceptive. There has always been a swarm of activity in the barns, garages, and cellars of what is today the state of Baden-Württemberg. This is the land of tinkerers and inventors. And the latest generation of Weissach engineers wanted to do things in style. While the new 911 eats up a straight stretch leading to the town of Bad Liebenzell, part of its respiratory passage is closed. Cooling-air flaps integrated into the front airdam automatically close when the car is running in order to reduce drag and save fuel. When maximum engine power is needed or the water temperature rises above a certain threshold, they open again. Imperceptibly to the driver and passengers—unless they are keeping an eye on the fuel consumption, which according to the NEDC norm has dropped to 7.7 liters per 100 kilometers for the Carrera S with PDK, thanks to numerous improvements to the power train.

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911 pleasure lies in the ability to unleash the greatest-possible forces at any time, but also in not having to—and in not flaunting this to the world.

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The new Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system uses online traffic data in real time.

The Sport Chrono Package now contains a rotary switch. In Sport mode it sharpens the senses of the PDK, and in Super Sport mode it tenses the muscles of the stabilizers, tautens the dampers, and opens the flaps of the optional Sport Exhaust system. An additional feature promotes individualization. In the menu for vehicle settings, drivers can combine their individual preferences for the suspension, transmission, and exhaust sound and store them to a preset configuration which they can access with a single button.

The sound continues to be music to the ears. On the short stretch of freeway between Pforzheim and Heimsheim, the six-cylinder engine reminds us of the fantastic brass section of an orchestra—like a naturally aspirated engine at maximum speed. Achleitner’s engineers have installed a second sound symposer in the rear wall. The additional membrane prevents sound dampening characteristics that turbochargers innately have from absorbing too much sound. The trumpeting cry alone makes it a delight to click seamlessly through the seven speeds.

But just between us: there’s even more pleasure to be had in the craftsmanship. At low revs, the twin-turbo engine shines with an abundance of torque. At 3,000 rpm it already feels ready as ever. On the hills before Eberdingen, the driver can use the paddle shifter to click through the gears one after another when the revs aren’t even close to redline. Race-car drivers call this short-shifting, and tend to use this technique of early shift points for slick surfaces or incipient transmission damage. In the new 911, by contrast, it is pure understatement. The greatest pleasure lies in the ability to unleash the vast power reserves at any given time, but also in not having to do so—and in not flaunting this to the world. The limbic system is less impressed by euphoria than by quiet joy. Scientists who study happiness are convinced that the latter is the more durable sense of well-being.

The new and now interactive communication system announces traffic jams in Karlsruhe and Leonberg—in real time—but they are not a concern to us as we travel the country roads between Tiefenbronn and Unterreichenbach. The new PCM takes its map data automatically from the certified server when needed, but drivers can also map out their routes on their computer at home and send them to the car. And should they make an exception and actually loan out their 911, they can follow the car’s location at all times by means of a smartphone.

Past the town walls of Weil der Stadt, the navigation system points north, toward home, once again, and when the sound of the bypass valve hisses cheerfully through the hills, a blasphemous thought suddenly comes to mind: “Who wants a naturally aspirated engine!” And although the new turbo engine is powering the 911 through the countryside with a comparatively moderate maximum boost pressure of 1.1 bar, it clearly was enough to dispel the poor weather. Golden yellow barley sways on the fields, and corn stands shoulder-high to attention. In the Cabriolet, which debuts together with the Coupé versions, we would be retracting the top. The sun has burst through the clouds—heralding what will hopefully be an enduring and stable zone of high pressure.

By Markus Stier
Photos by Steffen Jahn

911 Carrera S (Type 991 II)

Engine: Six-cylinder bi-turbo boxer
Displacement: 2,981 cc
Power: 309 kW (420 hp)
Maximum torque: 500 Nm at 1,700–5,000 rpm
0–100 km/h: 4.3 (4.1*) sec.
Top track speed: 308 (306*) km/h (191/190* mph)
CO2 emissions (combined): 199 (174*) g/km
Fuel consumption City: 12.2 (10.1*) l/100 km, Highway: 6.6 (6.4*) l/100 km, Combined: 8.7 (7.7*) l/100 km
Efficiency class: F (E*)

911 Carrera (Typ 991 II)

Engine: Six-cylinder bi-turbo boxer
Displacement: 2,981 cc
Power: 272 kW (370 hp)
Maximum torque: 450 Nm at 1,700–5,000 rpm
0–100 km/h: 4.6 (4.4*) sec.
Top track speed: 295 (293*) km/h (183/182* mph)
CO2 emissions (combined): 190 (169*) g/km
Fuel consumption City: 11.7 (9.9*) l/100 km, Highway: 6.3 (6.0*) l/100 km, Combined: 8.3 (7.4*) l/100 km
Efficiency class: F (D*)

* with Porsche double-clutch transmission (PDK)

What to do in Weissach

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Weissach Development Centre, Germany, Aerial view, © Google Inc.

Discover

Porsche

The Porsche Research and Development Center is located between Weissach and Flacht. The Porsche Museum or a tour of the factory in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen is a good 22 kilometers away. www.porsche.com/museum

The Black Forest

An inviting road through spectacular natural scenery is the Schwarzwaldhochstraße, which starts around 45 minutes away. Woods, mountains, lakes, and waterfalls are all present in abundance in the Black Forest. http://www.schwarzwaldhochstrasse.de

Maulbronn Monastery

The monastery of Maulbronn is located around 26 kilometers northwest of Weissach. It is considered the most completely preserved structure of its type north of the Alps. Built by the Cistercians in the middle of the twelfth century, it grew into an entire complex over the centuries. In 1993 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. www.kloster-maulbronn.de