Super sports car for an everyday drive
"It definitely brings the full Porsche experience expected from any Carrera but with a new wrinkle: a seven-speed gearbox."
Joe: Any time I get into a 911 is a good time. I don’t think there’s another car that has the performance potential, handling expertise and chachet, and yet still remains so easy to drive. Some super cars have unbearably stiff components that at times require super-human feats of strength to drive.
Wade: And the suspension management tools on hand allow a driver to roughen things up a bit according to personal tastes. My tester still employs the company’s ‘base’ sport bucket driver’s chair, even though it punches in at over 100 grand. Still, it definitely brings the full Porsche experience expected from any Carrera (and as far as I’m concerned, a manual transmission is the only way to go if you want to really get the full experience from Stuttgart’s finest) but with a new wrinkle: a seven-speed gearbox.
Joe: I’m getting the sense, though, that Porsche does that just because it can. Honestly, how many gears do you really use? About the only time I got into seventh was briefly on the highway portion of my morning commute. But I have to hand it to Porsche for making a pedal set that is far easier on the driver’s legs than older generations, where the floor mounted clutch especially played with my wonky left ankle every time I had to shift. I agree the seats are still some of the simplest and best in the sports business and I’m glad Porsche didn’t get carried away with the overwhelming Panamera centre console.
Wade: Yeah, I had to make special highway trips just to get into a situation where seventh gear was appropriate. Maybe on the Autobahns of its homeland ... Though I did appreciate the digital display that told me what gear I was in – it’s easy to lose track.
My test vehicle was fairly stripped down of electronic options as well- it didn’t even have the button that changes the exhaust note (and, apparently adds an extra horse of two), but it did have a handy automatic ‘restart’ function in case a driver stalled the engine, which I will of course never admit I did ... twice.
All around, the car is still such an unrelenting package of high-horse luxury that there isn’t a lot to pick on. Normally I like to grouse about the price of Carrera test cars but frankly, this one is probably the least expensive.
Joe: That engine refiring is actually part of a stop/start feature, which again aids fuel economy. I’m averaging in the nine litres per 100km range, which isn’t at all bad for a 350-hp six-cylinder engine. You know, when you think about it, outside of the lofty price, this isn’t at all a bad everyday driver – the ride’s good; it’s comfortable for two and not unreasonable for four (my teenager rode in the back for a couple jaunts around town and wasn’t terribly uncomfortable, though she wouldn’t want to attempt longer than say a half hour at a stretch); and the front trunk area is good for a couple overnight bags. As proven in other regions of the world, with the proper tires you can probably drive it year round.
Wade: Yes, I once had one of my vehicle scientists ride in the back seat of a 911 (not this one, though, she’d only fall for that once).
Engine stop is one of my favorite features on any car, and I’m glad to see it turning up on more. Imagine the impact on emissions if every car on the road didn’t sit burning gas at every light.
That said, Porsche is still kind of disappointingly slow to adopt a few of other functions that are very common in competing luxury sports cars – keyless start jumps to mind – but what do I know? I couldn’t product-plan my way out of a paper bag.
Ultimately, the seven-speed Carrera brings more of what the company has made famous; a fun track-day car for the well-heeled that can function as a daily driver.
2012 Porsche Carrera
Price as tested (before taxes): $106,360
Options on test vehicle: Active suspension management ($3,400); 20-inch wheels ($2,230); dynamic headlights ($1,820); Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,510); sport seat plus ($920); platinum silver metallic paint ($820), seat heating ($790), sport steering wheel ($290)
Configuration: rear engine/ rear-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.4L H6/ 7-spd manual
Power/torque: 350 hp/ 288 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): Ultra (64L)
Fuel economy ratings: 11.0 L/100km city; 7.2 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 9.1-10.0 L/100km combined
Warranties: 4 years/80,000 km (comprehensive)
Competitors: Audi R8; Infiniti IPL G coupe; Mercedes Benz SL550,
Strengths: power; iconic presence; engine stop/start; first-class handling and brakes
Weaknesses: hard to get in and out of; rear-seat room and comfort