991.2 Carerra: Bye Bye 9A1 and Hello Forced Induction

991.2 Carerra
991.2 Carerra S

Josh Barnett of Total 911:

For the first time in its history, the entry-level Porsche 911 will be turbocharged with both the Carrera and Carrera S models using a new twin turbo flat six that replaces the 991.1’s naturally aspirated 9A1 powerplant.

Both featuring capacities of 3.0 litres, the new engine will develop 370hp in Carrera trim, boosted to 420hp for the Carrera S variant. For both models this marks a boost of 20hp over the outgoing naturally aspirated versions.

So the new motor boasts a 40+ bhp differential over the outgoing 9A1. Is this a simple example of “newer is better,” or is it more complicated than that?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

For the venerable 911 Carrera, the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” couldn’t be more apropos.

Ever since rumors of the 997 replacement began popping up on the internet a few years ago, many an armchair car enthusiast predicted the end of the naturally aspirated 911.

Admittedly, these rumors were all but confirmed via leaked photos and video last year. Also, a camouflaged 991.2 test mule—sporting a certain turbocharged exhaust note—was seen thrashing around a test track months later.

Yesterday, rumors became reality. The upcoming mid-cycle refresh for the 991 ushers in a new era of turbocharged powerplants for the base 911 and “S” variants.

2016 911 and 911 S turbocharged motor
9A1, no more.

Porsche isn’t the first automaker to utilize turbocharging in the “lesser” models. Longtime holdout BMW has been doing it since the previous generation of cars. The entire VW Group has been doing it for over a decade. And even domestic brands have started to jump aboard the forced induction bandwagon.

Arguably, the primary motivator for forced induction over natural aspiration is emissions. And, as Barrett notes, the new 991.2 will not be an outlier in this regard:

In terms of CO2 emissions, the Porsche 911 Carrera sees its output reduce to 169g/km, while the Carrera S improves to 174g/km, moving both cars to Vehicle Excise Duty Band H in the UK (two and three bands lower than the Porsche 991.1 respectively).

And unlike the first generation of cars sporting turbochargers, modern turbocharged motors can be coaxed into responding almost as linearly as naturally aspirated engines, providing much of the “feel” of an NA motor, but with the aforementioned fuel economy improvements.

Still, in the automotive world, ubiquity and modernity are no replacement for tradition. Since its inception, the 911 has incorporated turbocharged motors only on the turbo, and, in the later years, the GT2. If the base model 911’s are going to be turbocharged, what will happen to the rest of the lineup? Is the GT3 next?

I can hear it now: “First the manual died, and now the GT3 has a turbocharged motor too?”

A hyperbolic refrain, yes, but one not wholly without merit. In lieu of buying the new 991 GT3, rich yuppies have been flocking to the classifieds for minty 996/997 GT cars. Why? Because not only did the 991 generation kill the manual for the GT3, it also killed the steering feel over the previous generation. Chris Harris agrees, for the most part.[1] Is this yet another example of modern “improvements” to the beloved 911? Will this inevitably tarnish the legendary pedigree of naturally aspirated 911’s? Hard to say. As a point of comparison, Ferrari’s latest “entry level” supercar, the 488, also sports a turbocharged motor. And Chris Harris loves that one. Only time will tell.

  1. I still can’t believe how fast this launch is.