Strengths and weaknesses:
- powertrain, handling
- road noise
- rear seat
All wheel performance of iconic proportions
I’m driving the last of Porsche’s 997 models. The company still built them for 2012, ahead of the launch of the new 998 generation, which comes later in the year.
The 19-inch Turbo II wheels (a throwback to the past for a $2,790 premium) stand out in contrast to the silver body, filling the wheel wells with black-spoked beauty and accenting the sloping hood and that wide rear end.
I open the wide front door and slide into the leather sports bucket seat with its big, supportive bolsters. I see the test car has more than a few extras, like seat warmers that approach “bake” setting. There’s a navigation system which goes with Porsche’s infotainment package and stunning BOSE audio.
My hands grip an optional PDK three-spoke sports steering wheel
I never tire of getting behind the wheel of a 911, or any Porsche for that matter, and a Carrera 4 in the winter is like having the ultimate snowmobile when you put proper winter tires on – provided you have snow, of course.
Aside from the guy at the gas pumps who thought it was a ’92, based on the retro wheels, I manage to go through a week’s worth of life with the 911 without attracting a lot of attention – except in traffic. More than once, I’m glad I have 345 enthusiastic horses on tap in that horizontally-opposed six-cylinder rear engine. It helps avoid other motorists who seem determined to prevent me from merging smoothly into traffic by jumping on the gas when they see me coming.
Sorry, guys, those tiny Japanese sedans don’t have the jam. You should quit letting your Porsche envy show because I’m gonna blow your doors off – without hitting a velocity that will get cops upset. When you step on this baby, it goes – right now!
The 911 gets my vote as the car most likely to be “keyed” in a parking lot by an envious passerby. I don’t understand why people react to the car this way. Is it the look? Because it’s German? Maybe it’s the price (this one is $117,000). I get nervous about going out to dinner or to a movie.
All that stuff aside, I like the 911 for a number of reasons,
It’s a fun machine with room only for me and grandma and a little bit of luggage—some under the hood, some in what is laughingly called a back seat.
It gets us where we want to go as quickly as I want. Those 365 horses linked to a PDK transmission love to gallop. The AWD makes the car beautifully sure-footed and the sport suspension on the test vehicle keeps the car absolutely flat in the corners. There’s a trade-off, though because sporty underpinnings bring a harsher ride.
It gets us there safely thanks to all-wheel drive and Porsche stability management to keep me on course and traction control to keep me stuck to the road. Coming to a halt happens in a hurry thanks to 13-inch vented disc brakes with ABS and four-piston calipers.
If it does happen that somebody runs into us, there are six standard airbags to pillow collision forces.
It gets us there in comfort. The seats are well-bolstered and supportive. The climate control is effective and the seat warmers approach “therapeutic.” The BOSE audio system is on par with most home entertainment units and there’s power everything.
There’s no doubt this is a great car, a fun car, even an exciting car, but it’s not the perfect car for me. I need to be able to take more than one person with me and I need to be able to haul some stuff.
(No matter what that commercial with mom picking up the kids in a 911 shows, this car isn’t gonna haul any grade-schoolers I know. You’ll remember the ad never shows the kids jammed into that back perch.)
And then there’s that envy factor.