Porsche has been making 911s since 1963. So a new one is no big deal.
And outwardly the 2017 is just last year's model with a new paint job.
But inwardly this is a dramatically different machine. The 911 has gone turbo.
For this 911 Carrera 4S, the German car company has replaced the traditional naturally-aspirated flat six engine with a twin-turbo flat six.
That's an upgrade. The new 3.0-liter turbo makes more horsepower and more torque than the old 3.4-liter engine – 420 horses and 368 pound feet of torque, up several percentage points over its predecessor. It also gets 12% better fuel economy, Porsche claims.
The car performs better, too. The new engine comes on strong, from quite low in the power band, and keeps coming on all the way to redline. It does that with none of the "lag" from which some early turbo engines suffered – and which turned a lot of traditionalists away from the newer, power-boosting technology. And it does it without requiring much driver input to find or maintain the sweet spot. It's all sweet spot.
In the canyons around Angeles National Forest, the new Carrera carved and cornered splendidly, proving far more car than I am driver. Paired with Porsche's justifiably celebrated PDK transmission, and wearing stock Pirelli P-Zero tires, the new 911 stuck to every swerve in Big Tujunga Canyon Road.
The new car also features chassis and suspension updates. The 2017 sits 10 millimeters lower than its newest ancestor – 20 millimeters lower with the optional Sport Suspension package – and it features optional rear-wheel steering. The turning circumference is very tight, and the steering and handling feel surgically precise, even with an amateur like me behind the wheel.
Porsche has added a driving mode. The four choices are now Normal, Sport, Sport + and Individual, which allows the operator to choose specific levels of power distribution and suspension settings. Even Normal is sporty, and Sport seemed super-sporty. Sport + appears to unleash 100% of the Porsche's power, all at once, in a 20-second burst that adds acceleration and a certain drama to lane changing and passing.
It's not quite as freaky-fast as the "Insane" button on the Tesla Model S, but it's very exciting.
And the car certainly is quick. Porsche says the 911 Carrera 4S coupe with the PDK transmission and Sport Chrono Package will go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds – faster than the oh-so-slow 3.9 seconds it took last year's comparable model.
In all the driving modes I had some difficulty staying within the speed limit. This car, CHP bait, just wants to go.
Inside the cockpit, the new model springs some more surprises. In addition to the automatic and paddleshift modes, the new transmission offers a manual stick shift feature. There is also an upgrade to the keyless ignition. Just swipe the door handle upon exit or approach, and the doors automatically lock or unlock.
As suits a car that insists upon keeping the driver connected to the driving, the farkles and creature comforts are kept to a minumum. The improved information and entertainment screen is barely 21st century. Though not sophisticated for a luxury car, the Connect Plus system does include Apple Car Play, Google Street View, WiFi and real-time traffic information.
A parking assistance program, and a back-up camera, are standard. So are cupholders, which are hidden behind a panel in the dashboard and when activated don't work terribly well. This may be Porsche's way of reminding you to put down the latte and pay attention to the road.
The controls are kept close at hand – almost too close at hand. The steering column sprouts six branches – three on each side – where levers operate almost all the 911's key controls.
This took a little getting used to. The first few times I reached for the turn signal I set the cruise control. When I hit the windshield wipers I got a read-out on how many G's I was generating in the turns.
I could easily imagine this 911 as someone's perfect daily driver. The kid-glove responsiveness, the ease of operation, the highly adjustable seats (which are heated and cooled) all make for a very soothing driving experinece – between bursts of that Sport + feature.
But it's still a sports car. The 911 suffers from a bit of road noise, and a bit of tire noise, which takes a little fun out of the otherwise fine Bose sound system. Since some of the noise is the intoxicating Porsche exhaust pipe gurgle, I didn't really mind, but on a longer road trip that much ambient sound could get a little old.
And although it has a back seat and an under-the-hood storage area, the former isn't really suitable for adults and the latter won't carry enough luggage to take a long road trip anyway. If you prize these things, though, maybe you're already driving a Cayenne or a Panamera.
This new 911 has a starting MSRP of $111,350, including the mandatory destination charges. That's up from the 2016 version of the same car, where the entrance fee was $106,680.
Porsche is quick to note this isn't the same car. The new engine, improved all-wheel-drive system, and upgraded suspension and braking add up a certain kind of automotive value pack.
Also new is the Graphite Blue Metallic paint color. This is the first time it's been used on a Porsche, and enthusiasts know that. I got stopped multiple times by Porschofiles who did a double-take and said, "Whoa! That's the new one!" based only on the strange gray-blue paint. (The color is available on all 2017 911 models and will also be available on the 718 Boxster when that car arrives later this year.)
The $138,560 it would cost to acquire the model I drove, which included $710 for that new color, isn't chicken feed. But it buys a sublime motoring experience that's hard to match anywhere else for that price.