Lava Orange Crush: Porsche 911 (991.2) Carrera S Review

Revolving Garage, First Gear Media LLC
Revolving Garage, First Gear Media LLC

Revo Model Summary
The Porsche 911 is a model that has been at the forefront of sports car design and performance for 60 years, while simultaneously honoring its forebears. Some lament it hasn't changed enough, while others lament every change. And in the midst of this paradox the 911 manages to please just about everyone who drives one. Go figure. Like every rollout since the 996, the 991 has followed a pattern of staggering chassis and engine changes using the mid cycle refresh. The 991.2 (2016-9) used largely the same chassis as the 991, but with a major engine change: turbos across the lineup (non-GT). And equally formulaically, people freaked out. Until they drove one, and then they said, ooh, this is good. The 991 chassis is bigger than the 997 (certainly visually, if only marginally on paper). The interior is typical Porsche quality, with the interfaces serving as a bridge between the physical button/gauge dominated layout of the 997, and screen dominated 992 which would look quite familiar to captain Jean Luc Picard. Bottom line: The 991.2 is a worthy drop in the 911 gene pool. And now onto this gorgeous example:    

Revo Model Summary
The 991.2 (2016-9) used largely the same chassis as the 991, but with a major engine change: turbos across the lineup (non-GT). And people freaked out. Until they drove one, and then they said, ooh, this is good. The 991 chassis is bigger than the 997 (certainly visually, if only marginally on paper). The interior is typical Porsche quality, with the interfaces serving as a bridge between the physical button/gauge dominated layout of the 997, and screen dominated 992 which would look quite familiar to Captain Jean Luc Picard. Bottom line: The 991.2 is a worthy drop in the 911 gene pool. And now onto this gorgeous example:    

Revo Initial Impressions

First the specs: You're looking at a 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S in Lava Orange, with about 22,000 miles. It was spec'd for enthusiast driving, with a 7 speed manual trans, Sport PASM suspension (active), sport exhaust with selectable bypass (loud), and the addition of an aftermarket SharkWerks PSE system (louder). It does not have sport chrono, which is an odd choice given the other driver focused choices, but some buyers do not like the appearance of the chrono on the dash. I for one like the auto rev matching that comes along with sport chrono, but alas, I'll have to do without. Seats are "14-way" power units, the dash is covered in full leather, there is a sunroof, and my favorite interior feature: lava orange accent stitching. The silver wheels shown are a 19 inch winter set, and for summer it will wear one inch larger all black Carrera S wheels with Pirelli P-Zeros.

Christian's Impressions: I bought this car used in late January of '21. In theory it is a replacement for my Seal Grey 2001 911 (996) Turbo, but for now I have both. Cars to middle aged men are like girls to teenage boys: we'll do whatever it takes to be around them, and inevitably regret it at school on Monday. In eighth grade I roller bladed 5 miles down a gravel strewn two lane highway with cars buzzing my Umbros to spend like 20 minutes with a girl while her parents were out shopping. Having risked life, limb, and dignity to get there I was so sweaty she was totally grossed out and never let me out of the kitchen, not that I would have had the balls to make a move if we had. Or maybe the roller blades scared her off. The lesson is, I really should sell that 996 before I regret it...

The 996 Turbo and 991.2 would tie in a head to head Top Trumps (if you don't know the Top Trumps card game, check it out, many hours of my youth were spent with a deck of these cards!).

  • Weight ~3,300 lbs;
  • Power ~420 hp;
  • Seating for 4;
  • 60 mph in ~4.2 sec, and just shy of 200 mph top speed; and
  • price ~ $130k new.

But when you drive them back to back they are a very different experience. Most noticeable is the power delivery. With the 991.2 Porsche clearly made every effort to create the illusion of normally aspirated power. It revs to 7,400 rpms, and delivery is very linear compared to turbos of yore. The twin turbos of the 991.2 give a nice kick of low end torque which is delightful when cruising around town, and the engine seems to continue to make power deeper into the revs than you'd normally expect from a turbo. But the 991 is so composed at speed that it takes a bit of that thrill away. Getting on the highway with my wife the other day I nailed it through the top of third gear, and as I slowed down to a more reasonable pace I looked over with a toothy grin thinking she was going to be so excited she might just buy me another car... but she was mid text message. All she had to say was, "why are you looking at me like that?" I was about to say something about SharkWerks and 7k rpms, but decided my attention was better spent pondering Weezer's Teal Album. I still have no clue what happened there but I like it.

Porsche makes complete cars. I drove this one with a buddy 800 miles from California back to Montana in the middle of January. I felt as fresh as I ever have getting out of a car after a long trip. It is mystifying what Porsche has accomplished. It is laden with tech (active dampers, active aero and cooling, sophisticated traction control, air conditioning), but the brilliance is that you aren't aware of any of it as the driver. It just works, and it works like a great sports car. You can crush 800 highway miles in comfort or crush 50 miles of canyons like a scalded baboon. Zero fucks given by 991.2; your wish is its command.

A few other rapid fire impressions:

  • Seven speeds is too many and you can get lost above 4th, but the gear box is a delight to move around and its positioning right off the wheel is awesome;
  • The "comfort" seats are so comfortable and yet supportive I'm left with the impression that all those on Bring-a-Trailer and Rennlist who dump all over any modern Porsche without "LWBs" (that's code for light weight bucket race seats) are fooling themselves. I've spent some time in LWBs and they suck to get in and out of, and I feel claustrophobic when I'm in them. Unless you're on track, don't get sucked into the myth of the LWB. Of course, YMMV;
  • The interior ergonomics are brilliantly thought out, from the size of the wheel to the shifter shape, to the seating position and vision;
  • It lacks a rawness that is fun in a weekend driver, but it's hard to imagine a better daily sports car;
  • The composure is not an antiseptic or numb quality, it is actually superbly communicative, it's just that the communication is constantly one of control, but sometimes its fun to feel a bit lairy;
  • It's been a few years since I've owned a car in a vibrant color and I'm loving it, but the attention it gets (police and pedestrians) is less desirable;
  • The steering feel is very good but not up the 996, even though many say that the rear drive 911 steering is so much better than in the AWD variants;
  • I really dislike the sound of closing the frameless doors; and
  • The 1-2 shift is notchy/tricky for the first 5-10 minutes of driving, but I'm unsure if that is unique to mine or typical of this 'box.

All in all, I have a crush on this Lava Orange 911. I hope it turns into a long affair.

The business end
The business end
Summer Wheels: Black 20 inch Carrera S design
Summer Wheels: Black 20 inch Carrera S design
Montana roads tempt the car home from California
Montana roads tempt the car home from California

Dan's Impressions: I've only driven the car twice. The first time was a quick jaunt on very cold and icy roads. The second time was right after I took these photos. It was a bit longer spell with an opportunity to both fully wind it out and drive it in "town" conditions. With that, here's what I have come away with thus far:

Looks: Lava-fucking-orange! The black accents on top of a very dynamic color make for pleasant viewing. The SharkWerks exhaust looks the part, and sounds the part too. The interior is a wonderful balance of German minimalism and luxury. I also think the headlights on modern Porsches (Cayenne, Macan, 718 included) are stunning.

Driving: Linear, powerful, unrelenting. It feels alive in hand and underfoot. Revving past 7k is always a welcome experience, and this car loves it. The transmission - from shifter to flywheel - has a lightness that makes the car easy to drive and conveys the sports car heritage.
All good, right? Here are the only drawbacks I can think of.
  • I'm the kind of person that likes my own farts and enjoys some unrefined edges. At public road speeds, it is hard to find those edges.
  • I don’t know if it’s the gearing or what, but without the drama of some turbo lag then a crazy hit of boost (like the 996TT), the car doesn’t necessarily beg you to get north of 7k. You have to know it’s there and seek it out.
  • I bet you thought I was going caution against the color didn’t you? NOPE. The color is awesome. As an owner of only black and white cars I am inspired by this bold and beautiful color. I honestly think it helps bring some more character to a pretty smooth, less bulbous body.

Lastly - The Weezer Teal album is something my musician friends have come to regard as "the wedding band album." Fun, high energy covers that get the audience out of their seats.

Revolving Garage, First Gear Media LLC

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