Is there an enduring automotive design more iconic than the rear-engined Porsche 911 Carrera? You don't have to be an auto enthusiast to recognize the distinctive shape and know: "That's a Porsche." For 2017, the 911 — across its dozen-and-a-half models — is sleeker, more powerful and yet more efficient.
Appearance: Our 911 Carrera S Cabriolet (convertible) was the embodiment of elegance and sportiness in crisp white with a bright red drop-top and 20-inch Carrera alloy wheels with red brake calipers. Even Peter's wife conceded: "That's a beautiful car." The soft top, which folds flat and out of the way, preserves the car's iconic profile. Elsewhere, the car gets slight cosmetic updates front and rear — headlights, grille, taillights, vents.
Performance: Here is where there is real change. The traditionally normally aspirated base 911 and S models now get a standard twin-turbo 3.0-liter boxer 6-cylinder engine. Turbocharging isn't just for the more high-performance 911 Turbo models anymore. The now higher-revving 911 S puts out 420 horsepower and 368 pound-foot of torque with what Porsche says is better fuel economy (22/28). The best of both worlds? Yes. The engine of our 911 was mated to Porsche's PDK 7-speed double-clutch transmission, which is one of our favorites. (A manual is also available.) The PDK's shifts, in the words of Lyra, are "wicked quick" whether you are in manual or automatic mode. Turbo lag is almost nonexistent. With the optional Sport Chrono package's Launch Control, Porsche says this Carrera can break the 4-second mark for 0-60 at 3.9 seconds. The car's electronic power steering, far from feeling numb, reacts quickly to your input. The car's handling may be its greatest achievement, with levels of grip and cornering that most of us won't begin to experience in everyday city driving. The Sport Exhaust System produces a satisfying muted rumble.
Interior: Peter thinks Porsche sets the standard for quality materials and the new 911 is no exception. It reminds him of a jet cockpit with its driver-focused design and button-heavy sloped console. The seating configuration is 2+2, but the rear seats are really more for a place to toss your jacket or bag. Still, up front, there is ample head- and legroom. Our 911's seats and door panels came in Bordeaux Red leather, which was an eye-catching contrast to the bright white exterior. Revised for 2017 is the Porsche Communications Management infotainment system, whose touchscreen now responds to smartphone-style swiping and has Wi-Fi connectivity (with subscription) and Apple CarPlay.
Our 3 favorites
Top down: The cabriolet's power wind-screen is a nice touch.
Steer here: The multifunction GT sport steering wheel is thick, leather-wrapped and has large magnesium paddle shifters.
Design: It's iconic for good reason.
Dressed to the 911s: Break up monotony with a flashy red interior.
Twin power, activate! Turbocharged boxer-6 packs a punch.
Power roof: Go top down easily with a push of a button.
The bottom line: Just when you think that Porsche can't further refine the 911, it proves us wrong. And we rejoice.