The 2012 Porsche Carrera S is part of the sixth generation of the venerable 911 and there’s still no doubt about its ancestry – or its purpose in life.
In the 48 years since it first hit the road, the 911 has undergone styling and equipment changes, but facelifts have been subtle and changes in size barely noticeable.
And there’s a new one in my driveway.
This test vehicle from Porsche Canada is bigger than its predecessor, but you don’t notice it unless you park them side-by-side or try to put a child seat in the rear of the thing. Now you can actually do it – with relative ease -- and a little person can live back there quite nicely.
That’s not to say you’re going to put anybody other than a child in the rear seat because you can’t. It’s still essentially a fold-down parcel shelf.
From the outside, the profile, with its elongated side glass, crease lines and new tail light lenses, has a sleeker, more slippery look. The wheelbase has been stretched 100mm by moving the front wheels 30 mm forward and the rear wheels 70 mm back. The front track is 50 mm wider.
That increase in wheelbase means more cabin space, mostly for the front occupants.
Inside, the driver has a Panamera-like centre console that flows nicely into the centre stack. If you like to push buttons, you’ll love this setup, but it’s far from user friendly.
All those tiny buttons and switches are confusing, especially when you’re playing with them for the first time. I have been driving 911s off and on for years and they still take far too long to get used to, especially when we’re on the move. Add in the touch-screen and you have a recipe for distraction. Luckily many of the controls are set-and-forget propositions, but spending some time with the layout is essential before you take off for the first time.
On the performance side, a new rear-mounted 3.4-litre horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine replaces the 3.6L engine. That slight change in size doesn’t affect the aggressive nature of the 911. Far from it. When I twist the southpaw key I have 400 horses at my beck and call, whipped up by 325 lb.-ft. of torque.
Shifting in the test car is accomplished by the optional automatic PDK seven-speed double-clutch transmission (that’s what PDK means in German), which is, quite simply, a mind-blower when you really put it to work. Porsche has also kicked the standard manual transmission up a notch – to seven gears.
Those 400 ponies don’t sound like horses when I step on it. They roar – especially when I push a button on the console that opens up the exhaust to cut down on back pressure. Use that button along with launch control and you have a near-religious experience ... At least that’s what it seems like, as I find myself saying “oh my God” a lot.
The base price of the Carrera S is $110,000, but test car options sent the price soaring over the $145,000 mark.
The 911 has always been dedicated to the thrill of driving and that hasn’t changed one iota.
It’s fast, superbly balanced, corners like it’s on rails, and then there’s optional dynamic chassis control that adds to the fun.
On the highway, it will cruise along effortlessly all day and get good fuel economy along the way.
A fair amount of wind and road noise find their way into the cabin, but the optional BOSE audio system takes care of that.
And riding along in these wonderful sports seats, I find I’m in love. Again.
2012 Porsche 911 Carrera
Trim level: S
Price as tested (before taxes): $145,610
Configuration: rear engine/ rear-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.8L H6/7-speed auto. with sequential shift
Power/torque: 400 hp/325 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): Ultra (64L)
Fuel economy ratings: 10.6 L/100km city; 7.3 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 10.1 L/100km over 349 km
Warranties: 4 years/ 80,000 km (comprehensive)
Competitors: Jaguar XKR; Nissan GT-R.
Strengths: performance, handling, looks
Weaknesses: rear seats; so many buttons