Porsche power a thrill to drive
WE HAVE FIRST DRIVE OF THE NEW PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S — WITH A SPECIAL ADDITION
If there’s one box buyers of the new Porsche 911 Carrera S should tick when they order the coupe, it is the rear axle steering option.
Porsche’s iconic four-seater coupe officially goes on sale today and Driven was given a first drive ahead of the launch.
While the vehicle gains such updated features as new lights, upgraded engine and infotainment system, it’s the option of rear axle steering that should piqué interest, especially as it gets approval from one of Porsche’s most famous Kiwi race car drivers, Earl Bamber.
The system assists at both low and high speed by steering the rear in opposite directions to the front wheels to create the effect of shortening the wheelbase. This not only ‘flicks’ the Carrera around city corners, but also reduces the turning circle, making it easier to park.
But what impressed Bamber is how the system makes driving at speed stable and improves handling. Bamber spent 2014 racing Porsche GT3s around the world so, when it came to testing the new rear axle steering system, he was so impressed that he told Porsche NZ that it would turn any driver into a racer.
Told you there was a good reason to tick the box.
The electric glass sunroof ($5170) is a great addition.
Although you couldn’t get a better ambassador for the system, it was time to put it to the test during Driven’s three days with the Carrera.
The 911 Carrera S coupe starts at $235,300, and our model was specced up to a total price of $269,970, including the steering ($4980) which is available only on the GT3 and 911 turbo.
My test model also had the $4510 sport chrono package (PDK) that included a lap timer, sport, sport S and launch modes.
Finishing off the optional package was the great addition of an electric glass sunroof ($5170), a $5780 sports exhaust system and Porsche’s seven-speed dual clutch (PDK) transmission ($6000).
The new 911 Carrera comes with a 3-litre, six-cylinder twin turbo rear engine with 500Nm of torque and 309kW of power, an increase of 15kW.
It has a top speed of 308km/h with 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds, the first time a 911 Carrera has broken the sub-four second barrier.
The view of the Porsche that most Kiwi drivers will see.
The ride height has been lowered by 10mm, improving stability while new shock absorbers boosts comfort and improves driving dynamics.
The 911 Carrera has been one of the world’s top selling sports cars for decades and this latest version had new daytime running lights, a redesigned rear lid with vertical louvres and new rear lights.
It’s also been upgraded with the new Porsche management system with touchscreen display and Car Play, allowing your smartphone to be used on the screen.
The PDK system comes from the 918 Spyder (click here for our review) and it allows you to set up the driving system to your style with ‘comfort great for around town, ‘sport’ for motorway and ‘sport plus’ for active and fast-paced roads.
This latest version has new daytime running lights.
There was also a ‘sport response button’ that gives you a maximum of 20 seconds of extreme response from the car, thought it’s best for overtaking on the motorway than going through a give way sign on a city road.
As my 911 only had 50km on the clock, Porsche NZ asked that I didn’t try launch mode — planting your foot and hitting a great speed at speed isn’t recommended as a run-in option for a sports car.
Plenty of room in the front but kids only in the back.
What is recommended for a sport cars is a few kilometres on an open road. And what I can recommend is opening up the 911’s exhaust when on the open road and listening as the delightfully amplified ‘pop-pop’ as you play through the gears.
At the start of my ride I tried sport mode on the motorway but found the ride too hard and instead dialed the 911 back into comfort mode. In this setting and on the motorway you hit about 2800rpm for the gears to move up, but pop in sport mode and that extends the ratio to 3800rpm. Try sport plus and you sit at 3500rpm before tapping the accelerator for more action.
I turned off the main road, and onto my usual test route that includes a quiet country road that has plenty of winding hills and long, flat straights to assess sports cars.
I enabled sport plus mode that altered the steering, chassis and handling to more reactive conditions, opened the sunroof, turned off the stereo and listened to the car as it tore through the straights.
Powering through the winding corners, I found the assistance from the rear axle steering let me power through the corner with little effort, but it wasn’t until I was back in the city that I fully appreciated the option.
My brother and his family have just moved to New Zealand from the West Indies and my 11-year-old nephew, Jesse, is a sports car fan. I’d already taken him for drive in the McLaren 570S, and he was delighted for a turn in the 911.
I also needed him to test out the rear seat that had my petite teenage daughter complaining about lack of headroom.
For Jesse, there were no complaints and it proved that the Carrera’s rear seat is made for kids or handy storage for luggage along with the parcel shelf at the rear of the seats.
Leaving Jesse’s inner city Auckland home, I rounded a corner — and then the rear axle steering kicked in — and what a delight it was. It flicked the car around the bend, providing a drift-lite type feel, and had Jesse laughing in delight. So of course I had to do it again. And again.
Adding to the fun run was the torque from the engine when I accelerated from stop, and the pop of the exhaust.
Bamber is right. It does make you at least feel like a race car driver — and you couldn’t ask for more than that.
PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S
|ENGINE:||3-litre, six-cylinder twin turbo rear engine|
|PROS:||The optional rear axle steering|
|CONS:||Back seats suitable only for kids|