There is no other car as iconic as the 911. It’s on every automotive enthusiast’s list of “top things to buy before you die.” It wins awards, it turns heads, it makes everyone jealous — what else can you ask for?
The 911 didn’t get to this status just by being a B+ car — it got here because it gets A+ in almost every possible performance category year after year, generation after generation.
Since its inception in 1948, the 911’s appearance has evolved gracefully. You can still drive it fast and furious — unsurprising considering Porsche is the most successful brand in motor sport. There are few surprises coming from the new package. However, people buy Porsches for this very reason and this has resulted in a very loyal fan base.
The 911 is a symbol of German engineering. Positioning the engine behind the rear wheels, which is where the 911’s engine belongs, makes achieving a balanced weight distribution an almost impossible task.
Sports car designers agonize over where each ounce sits within the chassis because a balanced car corners easier and faster. Early 911’s, carrying the bulk of their weight on the rear axle, required a delicate dance on the pedals, nimble hand manoeuvres and a mouthful of prayers to go around a corner fast. But Porsche refused to give up on the idea and continuously tinkered with the chassis to eventually produce a car that feels neutral to the driver regardless of the body bias.
While playing with the mechanicals, the designers didn’t ignore the car’s more mundane elements. Over the years, the Carrera has become more comfortable and easier to drive in the real world. It truly has become a sports car you can use everyday. 911 is and will always be the benchmark by which other brands measure themselves.
The 911 is one of very few cars whose design has remained a timeless classic. However, if we are to nitpick the details, the 2012 Carrera is slightly longer, shorter and has a wider stance than the outgoing model. This means the windscreen is longer and a little less steeply raked and the side mirrors are mounted further out on the doors. Also, the front gills are wider and sharper, the headlamps are ever so slightly rounder, and the taillamps are narrower and longer. But let’s be honest, these changes are subtle and this model is unquestionably the Porsche icon.
Another hallmark of this icon has been its cabin. Unlike more ostentatious exotic cars, entering the 911 never required performing a contortionist act.
It also provided enough cargo space to allow you to enjoy a scenic drive on a weekend excursion. To further encourage you to use your Carrera daily, the new interior is the most user-friendly yet.
And while traditional Porsche elements remain, such as the left-mounted key ignition and five-gauge instrument panel, the cabin feels very modern and contemporary.
Sitting in a 911 has never been an “econobox” experience but this version is the most luxurious version we’ve seen.
Fans of Porsche have developed certain expectations of the brand’s flagship and this new update meets those expectations. The base 3.4-litre flat-six produces 350-hp, which is five more than before, and 287 ft-lbs of torque to reach 289 kilometres per hour.
Zero to 100 kph happens in 4.8 seconds thanks to the industry’s first seven-speed manual gear-box and the PDK-equipped models will reach the same speed in mere 4.6 seconds or 4.4 seconds in the Sport Chrono trim. Alternatively, if you want your daily driver to venture even further into supercar territory, the Carrera S sees its displacement grow to 3.8-litres putting out 400-hp, 15 more than its predecessor, and 325 ft-lbs of torque. The S can hit 100 kph in 4.5 seconds with a manual transmission or in 4.3 seconds with the automatic.
With the push of a button you can alter various things: the response of the throttle and steering, when gear shifts happen, the feel of the suspension, and even how audible the exhaust is. You also have control over the all-new Auto Start/Stop system which shuts the engine off if the car is stopped — for example at a stop light. You can manually override this feature but the system restarts the engine quickly enough for you to get off the line to keep most other cars in their place.
These controls allow you to ensure that this 911 will comfortably handle any road and still obtain a reasonable fuel efficiency for such a high-end sports car.
The new cabin reveals a whole new level of refinement. The Carrera offers so much more upscale features and luxurious items that it will even embarrass luxury sedans. The rear seats, which function best as additional storage, provide a quick reminder that this car’s main focus is the driver.
The interior is inspired by the Carrera GT supercar and is sort of a scaled down version of the Panamera, most notably the cascading centre stack. Porsche, never one to follow convention, chose to forsake a dial selector to access different features used by some of its competitors and instead opted for a button for everything.
Those who regularly operate a smart-phone will feel at ease.
This progressive feeling is continued throughout the cabin. Some minor changes include the replacement of the manual hand brake lever by an electronically activated parking brake, and the gear selector is now located higher upon the centre stack.
This somewhat diminishes spaciousness, but headroom is actually increased by the repackaging of the sunroof. While this cabin may be a departure from the interiors of old, it is a welcome advancement.
The new 911 Carrera starts at $93,700 and the S version at $110,000, with their cabriolet variants beginning at $106,900 and $123,200 respectively. The all-wheel-drive models enter at $103,900 for the Carrera 4 and $120,500 for the 4S, again with the convertibles at $117,400 and $134,100 respectively.
Standard features on the base model Carrera include intelligent lightweight construction in aluminium/steel-composite, Enhanced Porsche Stability Management with ABS, ASR, ABD, MSR and additional brake functions, auto start-stop-function, on-board diagnostics for monitoring emission control system, power-assisted steering with variable steering ratio, tire pressure monitoring system, electric parking brake, and auto-deploying rear spoiler.
This generation of 911 is the next evolution of the historic brand and is the best sports car in the world.