2017 Porsche 911 Review
Pros & Cons
- Handling prowess is impeccable
- New turbocharged engines are more powerful and economical
- Interior defines premium in every way
- Customization possibilities are endless
- Options list includes many items you would expect as standard
- New six-cylinder engines don't have quite the same roar as before
Edmunds' Expert Review
Sports car engines are like steaks. The question is, "How do you like yours?" For purists, there's nothing like the wailing crescendo of a non-turbocharged Porsche flat-6. That's where the 911 legend started and still lives on; the Turbo, they'll tell you, was always an interloper. If you're a purist by that definition, you might be skeptical about the 2017 Porsche 911.
But if you're like everyone else, you're going to love it.
That's because almost every 911 is turbocharged for 2017, including the base 911 Carrera (370 horsepower) and the Carrera S (420 hp). Consequently, you no longer have to scream toward redline in order to extract stunning performance, although these engines still sound and feel at home when running hard. Again, purists might be perturbed, but for the rest of the driving public, it just means the 2017 911 is more thrilling, more of the time. Squeeze the throttle from rest and you're greeted with an almost instant shove as the turbo-enhanced torque presses you back into your seat. It's the end of the 911 as we know it, and we're guessing most shoppers feel just fine.
But if you're one of those purists and you haven't yet turned away in disgust, know that Porsche's got a bone to throw your way for 2017. It's called the 911 R, and it employs a non-turbocharged 4.0-liter, 500-hp flat-6 poached from the race-bred GT3 RS. Unlike the current-generation GT3 family, the 911 R comes with a conventional six-speed manual transmission, too. On the downside, the R's base price is up near $200,000, so purists will need to be particularly flush with cash going forward.
Throw in the other changes for 2017 -- standard Porsche Active Suspension Management, freshened exterior styling (including new taillights and front LED accent lights that are now aligned with the air intakes, except on the 911 R), upgraded infotainment features and more -- and it's safe to say that the quintessential sports car just got even better. Of course, if you're bringing 911 money to the table, you've got a number of desirable alternatives to consider. There's the Jaguar F-Type R with its fire-breathing supercharged V8, the stunningly fast Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe, the equally enthralling Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and the relatively exotic Audi R8, and those are just a few that come to mind. But for our money, there's no sports car that does it all better than the 2017 Porsche 911.
Every 2017 Porsche 911 is outfitted with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, and front seat side airbags that protect both the body and head. The convertible features automatically deploying rollover bars that ordinarily remain hidden behind the rear seats.
Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are also standard. The optional adaptive cruise control feature is bundled with a forward collision mitigation system that first issues audible and visual warnings, then automatically applies the brakes if no action is taken.
In Edmunds brake testing, previous 911 models of this generation have stopped in about 100 feet on average, putting them up there with the shortest-stopping cars we've tested.
2017 Porsche 911 models
The 2017 Porsche 911 is offered as a coupe, retractable-roof coupe (Targa) or soft-top convertible (Cabriolet) in a wide variety of models.
The base model 2017 911 Carrera starts with 19-inch staggered-width alloy wheels with summer tires, adaptive suspension dampers (PASM), automatic bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, four-way power-adjustable front seats (with manual fore-aft), a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, partial leather upholstery and trim, a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, voice controls, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, WiFi connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, dual USB ports, dual SD-card slots, satellite/HD radio and 11GB of digital music storage. The convertible features a power-operated soft top and wind deflector.
The Carrera S adds a more powerful engine, 20-inch wheels and a torque-vectoring rear differential (PTV).
The Carrera 4 and 4S (Carrera-based) and Targa 4 and 4S (Carrera S-based) feature all-wheel drive and wider rear fenders, but are otherwise equipped similarly to their rear-wheel-drive counterparts, as are the convertible versions of the Carrera 4 and 4S.
The 911 Turbo gets a major engine upgrade, all-wheel drive, a power-retractable front spoiler, a fixed rear spoiler with articulating wing elements, various other aesthetic and functional body revisions, a rear-wheel-steering feature to tighten the turning radius and improve high-speed stability (optional on the Carrera S family), a more advanced torque-vectoring rear differential (PTV Plus), adaptive LED headlights, the Sport Chrono package (dynamic engine mounts, stopwatch, turbo overboost function for temporarily increased torque, additional performance driving aids), 10-way power seats with four-way power lumbar and memory settings, extended leather trim and a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
The Turbo S turns up the boost and adds active stabilizer bars (PDCC), ceramic-composite brake rotors (PCCB), 14-way power front seats with adjustable side bolsters and carbon-fiber interior trim.
Many of the higher-end items are available as options on lesser trims. Other add-ons include alternative wheel designs, power-folding auto-dimming mirrors, roof rack mounting points, a sunroof (coupe only), keyless entry and ignition, adaptive cruise control (with automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation) and a 12-speaker Burmester audio system.
As with any Porsche, you can also customize the 911 to your heart's (and hopefully wallet's) content, adding everything from colorful Porsche crests on the seats to leather trim on the climate vent slats.
Finally, the track-focused 911 GT3 and GT3 RS models are on hiatus as of this writing, but the new two-seat 911 R ably fills the void. Utilizing a six-speed manual transmission and the 4.0-liter engine from the GT3 RS, the 911 R promises a pure mechanical experience, aided by lightweight body panels, an available lightweight battery and deleted climate control and infotainment systems (they can be added back as options). The R also has a unique front fascia with offset running lights above the intakes, as on previous 911s of this generation, and its adaptive rear spoiler sits flush with the body by default for a cleaner look than the heavily winged GT3 and GT3 RS. The chassis is derived from the GT3 and includes the rear-steering system that's standard on the Turbo and Turbo S, as well as the carbon-ceramic brakes from the Turbo S. Additional upgrades include special 20-inch wheels, a dual-outlet center-mounted sport exhaust, PTV, dynamic engine mounts, a sport-tuned version of PASM, adjustable chassis settings for race use, carbon-fiber-trimmed sport seats and dashboard inlays, a synthetic suede headliner and a sport steering wheel.
The 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera, Carrera 4 and Targa 4 models are motivated by a turbocharged 3.0-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder (flat-6) engine rated at 370 hp and 331 pound-feet of torque, while the S and 4S variants receive an upgraded version of the same engine with 420 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque.
The 911 Turbo steps up to a turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine that cranks out 540 hp and 486 lb-ft (523 lb-ft with overboost). The Turbo S goes nuts with a tweaked version of that engine rated at 580 hp and 516 lb-ft (553 lb-ft with overboost).
Rear-wheel drive is standard on the lower 911 range, as is a seven-speed manual transmission, while the "4" signifies all-wheel drive. The Turbo and Turbo S come standard with Porsche's PDK seven-speed automated manual (optional on the lesser trims) and AWD.
The above-mentioned Sport Chrono package adds the overboost function (Turbo and Turbo S) and a hard-core Sport Plus driving mode that includes a racy shift program and launch control on PDK cars, while manual 911s with this package get an amusing "Gearshift Assistant" gauge that tells you when to shift.
Then there's the rear-wheel-drive 911 R, which gets a standard six-speed manual transmission and a non-turbocharged 4.0-liter flat-6 rated at 500 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque.
In Edmunds performance testing, a 911 Turbo S blasted to 60 mph in a sizzling 3.0 seconds flat, and that was before the 20-hp bump for 2017.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is quite good overall by sports car standards. The base Carrera achieves 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway) with the PDK transmission. As you climb through the lineup with ever-increasing performance, fuel economy drops by about 1 mpg until you reach the Turbo S that is rated at 21 mpg combined. Where applicable, the manual transmission reduces fuel economy by about 1 mpg compared to the PDK.
The right engine for your 2017 Porsche 911 is a matter of personal taste, but they're all fantastic. The base 3.0-liter turbo flat-6 has the low-end punch that its non turbocharged 3.4-liter predecessor lacked, yet it doesn't mind yowling past 7,000 rpm when the mood strikes. The Carrera S takes the same 3.0-liter engine to new heights in terms of output, but in our view, the price premium for this model is now less compelling given the similar character of the regular Carrera's engine. Both transmissions confirm that Porsche is at the top of its engineering game -- whether manual or automatic, shifters don't get any better than this, and it's worth noting that the manual now utilizes a two-disc clutch design that reduces the clutch pedal effort.
As you might expect, the Turbo and Turbo S take acceleration to extremes with their larger turbocharged engines. But the headline grabber for 2017 is the manual-transmission 911 R, a thrill machine through and through that extracts 500 hp from its non turbocharged flat-6 at an astonishing 8,250 rpm. This is the 911 that we frankly thought Porsche would never build once the GT3 and GT3 RS switched exclusively to the PDK transmission. The stealthy styling -- much more base 911 than boy-racer GT3 -- is the cherry on top for less outgoing 911 enthusiasts.
In everyday driving, the 2017 Porsche 911 won't be confused with a luxury car, but now that the adaptive PASM suspension comes standard, the car's daily livability is at an all-time high. Forget about comfort and easy-to-drive considerations for a moment, though; you really need to drive the 911 hard to let its decades of high-performance heritage shine through. The steering is quick and precise, and overall you'll feel a nearly unparalleled sense of control and engagement. It works better the harder you drive it, and that kind of magic is hard to resist when you're making a purchasing decision.
The 911's interior is exquisitely trimmed and constructed; even in this elevated price range, it feels worth every penny. The control layout is decidedly button-heavy, though, particularly on the high center console, which evokes airplane cockpits with its apparent complexity. But you get used to the logical button placement quickly, and drivers will appreciate being able to access many functions with one click, as opposed to going through a series of menus à la BMW's iDrive interface.
The key update inside for 2017 is the revised Porsche Communications Management infotainment system (PCM), which is standard on every 911. The updated 7-inch touchscreen now accepts smartphone-style swiping and pinching gestures, and it can recognize finger-written number and letter inputs for navigation functions, which have themselves been upgraded with quicker response times and online searchability via the newly standard WiFi connectivity. Furthermore, PCM adds Apple CarPlay compatibility for 2017, though Android Auto is not currently offered.
As expected of Porsche, the 911 offers ample headroom and legroom in its form-fitting front seats. Those seats can be specified in a few different forms, with varying degrees of adjustability and lateral bolstering, but even the base partial-power chairs provide superb support for both long-distance and enthusiastic driving. The rear "seats," however, are very small; most 911 owners know them better for the seatbacks that flip down to become useful cargo shelves. The front trunk (remember, there's an engine in the back) measures a paltry 5.1 cubic feet -- and it's even smaller in the 911 R.