Porsche 911 C4S 991.2 – Long-term Review

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Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

Every drive in a Porsche, especially in a 911, has a sense of occasion. Whenever you approach the sleek, aerodynamic, familiar, yet exotic body, and admire its athletic, muscular curves, something inside you readies itself. Almost in a Pavlovian sense, your past experiences condition you to anticipate the power, fun, and adventure that await, no matter how routine the destination or how mundane the route. As soon as you shatter the silence of your surroundings with the twist of your wrist, ordinary yields to exceptional, excitement displaces indifference.

Our drive today is anything but routine or mundane.

In honour of completing our second anniversary with our 2017 Porsche 911 991.2 long-term test car, and recognizing the end of the 991 era as the age of the new 992 dawns, we’re taking our 991.2 on an epic road trip from the Los Angeles area, up the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur and back down to L.A.
And, what better place than California, to tie in some ecological analysis? We’re driving up the coast in the car’s most eco-friendly drive mode and then returning in Sport mode, all while marveling at the best of California’s coastal beauty.


The Route

The route is pretty simple: Straight up and straight down California State Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, or just Highway One. To clarify, it’s not exactly “straight”—especially along the northern stretches approaching Ragged Point, Highway One becomes a wonderland of tight turns and undulations. We depart from Westlake Village (North-West of Los Angeles), and our goal is to hit Big Sur, which is about 400 km/250 miles up the California coast.
TrackWorthy - Toronto to LA in a Porsche 911 C4S - Map 2

Instead, we crafted a fourth, longer and more southerly alternative. Why? Significantly more of our DIY route was new to both of us than any of Google’s suggestions. Moreover, we set aside five days for the drive, and we wanted to use all five!

TrackWorthy - Toronto to LA in a Porsche 911 C4S - Map 1
Our intended route was to drive from Toronto to Nashville, Tennessee (1261 km, 11 h 53 min), then to Dallas, Texas (1069 km, 9 h 38 min), followed by the Las Cruces, New Mexico (1095 km, 9 h 44 min), which is apparently the second largest city in the state, after Albuquerque. From Las Cruces, we planned to hit Scottsdale, Arizona (626 km, 5 h 34 min), and then arrive in Los Angeles on the fifth day (599 km, 5 h 37 min).

Route as Planned

Ventana Grill at Pismo Beach
If you’re looking for a memorable lunch in the Pismo Beach area, consider Ventana Grill. It’s Latin-inspired options and fresh seafood are quite good, and the setting atop a coastal bluff is tough to beat.

Central Coast
Miles and miles and MILES of coastal land surrounded by mountains, bluffs, wildflowers and heavenly beauty. And nobody’s there… am I missing something? Anyone looking for an idyllic setting for a vacation home, who can work remotely, or who’s willing to commute should seriously scout out the area between Cambria and Ragged Point. William Randolph Hearst had the right idea (See Hearst Castle).

Cambria
Old Cambria is a great spot to stop for a quick snack and stroll. The small town is right off the highway and has some serious charm, not to mention a couple of good coffee shops.

Ragged Point
The aptly-named destination is worth a stop. At the quaint fuel station there, venture a few hundred yards along a well-marked trail and you’ll witness waves breaking on sheer cliffs of red rock capped with wildflowers and majestic cypress trees. Really, the whole surrounding area, including the twisting coastal roads to the north and the south, is spectacular.

Light Station & Marine Life
Along Highway 1 (State Route 1?) there are dozens of scenic overlook stops. We were drawn to one at sunset because of its proximity to the stunning, historic Piedras Blancas Light Station. As a bonus, the whole beach was covered in a blanket of lazy, loafing lards: elephant seals.

Los Osos
Many are familiar with Morro Bay. Fewer have heard of the nearby town of Los Osos. Despite its name (Spanish for “the bears”), which the town received in the late 1760s because of an abundance of bears spotted in the area, the bear threat today is nil – no one has seen a bear there in over a hundred years. The small town of about fourteen-thousand has a killer sushi spot, Kuma, where we stopped for dinner.

TrackWorthy - Toronto to LA - Porsche 911 C4S 991.2 - 005

Disappointments

Big Sur.
We have to about-face pre-maturely because the coastal road to Big Sur’s iconic bridge (link) is closed. This stretch has had a rough go over the past few years as result of mud slides. Not long ago, the bridge was completely washed away.

Nothing else.

Luckily, in a Porsche 911, just about any drive is exciting. Spectacular scenery is a bonus, and challenging roads are a double-bonus. This route has it all, and, even after thirteen hours of driving, we want more!

The Car

In our previous generation 991.1 911 Carrera C4S, low-rpm power availability was noticeably lacking. Although the engine was naturally aspirated, the high-end-only power delivery created an experience strangely reminiscent of turbo lag. Not so in this twin-turbo 991.2 C4S, equipped with Porsche’s magical 7-speed PDK (Porsche Doppel Kupplungs) transmission. The torque curve is incredibly flat, with peak torque (368 lb.-ft.) available starting as early as 1,700 RPM and extending up to 5,000 RPM. The 420-horsepower, achieved at 6,500 RPM, is capable of launching the all-wheel drive, 1,510 kg (3,329 lb.) body from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in about 3.8 seconds on the way to a top speed of 302 km/h (188 mph). We’re excited to experience how the new 911 992 compares. For more performance details, read our posts on our road-trip from Toronto to L.A. or on our SoCal canyon road drives.

Where the car really shines, however, is in the balance it achieves between power, responsiveness and handling. The rear-axle steering offers stability at high speeds and maneuverability at low. Like a Swiss watch, each component of the car plays its part in perfect symphony (harmony?) to deliver precision, stability and control, even as g-forces increase.

Toronto to L.A. in a Porsche 991.2 911 C4S - Actual Route
Our car is in a distinct and tastefully understated Graphite Blue Metallic. Interestingly, people “in the know” say that the shade of blue closely matches the colour originally intended for U.S. stealth aircraft before the air force decided that black would be cooler, even if it meant that the plane would be easier to spot against the sky. Our 20” RS Spyder design wheels are, admittedly, less understated. But they’re so beautiful…

The interior is leather in Graphite Blue and Chalk, which includes deviated stitching in Chalk. For a sportier feel, we selected the multifunctional, heated steering wheel in carbon fiber, as well as interior trim in carbon fiber. We also upgraded the instrument cluster and Sport Chrono clock dials so that they’re all white. The interior roof liner comes in a rich matching Graphite Blue Alcantara.
Although the sports exhaust package doesn’t produce a drastically different sound compared to the standard package, the centrally-mounted twin tailpipes are very sporty. And the optional fuel cap with aluminum look and finish definitely elevates refueling.

Interestingly, in the 991.1, it was difficult to tell whether the spoiler was up from the cabin looking through the rear-view mirror. In the 991.2, it noticeably emerges into view, which is cool.

The car is extremely comfortable for any car, let-alone a sports car, at least the front two seats. The back two seats are good for storage or people you hate. We’ve got 14-way Power Sport Seats with memory, which are heated and ventilated. Toggling between drive modes stiffens or softens suspension noticeably, and the ride is especially hard when you set the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control activated.

Porsche 911 C4S 991.2 – Long-term Review
We’re now entering our third year with this long-term test car, and, through myriad road trips and a cross country drive, we’ve been able to put some decent mileage on it. After two years, we only have two complaints with the car, one more serious, one more minor. The more serious has to do with the AC. We’ve had two AC issues with the car over the two years we’ve had it. The first is supposedly because mice are attracted to some wiring that is, apparently, easily accessible to hungry rodents. The second is the result of a coolant leak. Suffice it to say, it’s a bit annoying to have to endure warm air blowing into the cabin on a hot day, regardless of the cause.
Our minor nitpick has to do with exhaust volume. Yes, we’ve entered the eco-friendly age of the turbo. And, we love just about everything about the 991.2’s twin turbo: no lag, terrific, uniform power delivery, better fuel economy. The one downside: the 991.2’s roar is less throaty, guttural, aggressive and loud than its predecessor’s. The trend toward turbo hasn’t dashed all hope in this department, however. We recently reviewed a 991.2 GTS Cabriolet, one step up Porsche’s performance ladder from the C4S, and that car sounded properly angry, especially under decent acceleration. So, perhaps Porsche will apply its magic to “lesser” 911s in future generations similar to what it has done on the 991.2 GTS. Or, maybe environmental regulations will ultimately squelch the scream of the sports car for good. We look forward to hearing how the new generation 992 compares.

Fuel Efficiency

Although driving style is, undoubtedly, the largest contributor to fuel efficiency, it turns out that driving mode also contributes. Trying my best to match driving style between our trips up and down the coast, and, assuming the average elevation change is about the same in each direction, the difference in fuel economy between Sport and Normal is about 9%. Stated otherwise, on the long drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, we pay a 9% fuel premium to drive in Sport mode. The fuel-savings features of normal mode, including a less sensitive throttle, shorter periods in lower gears at higher rpm, and the engine auto-start/stop function add up. In Normal mode, the 991.2 also enters a ‘coast mode’ when the circumstances are optimal, disengaging the engine from the wheels and dropping RPM. We average 9.5 l/100 km (24.8 mpg) on our drive up the coast, and 10.3 l/100km (22.8 mpg) on the way back down.

Gas can get expensive, and it is, unequivocally, important for us to minimize emissions for environmental reasons. That said, it is our opinion that the enjoyment factor increases by more than 9% switching to Sport from Normal. Do with that what you will.
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  • Porsche 911
  • Porsche 911
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The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line
Two years in and our 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 991.2 still grips us at every corner and thrills us through each acceleration. Aside from minor reliability issue with the AC, the car is solid, dependable, and an instrument of balance and precision. We have no fears continuing to take it on road trips, even to the most remote corners of the world and on the most challenging roads.
It’s hard for us to imagine how the 911 can get any better. Yet, somehow, with each iteration of the 911, Porsche seems to improve on near-perfection. We can’t wait to experience what’s coming next…


Photographs and Videos © Copyright TrackWorthy Group Ltd. 2018

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