2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on May 23, 2012

Modernized, but every bit a 911. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

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Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Outrageously fun in the corners! (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Best looking 911 taillight design since '73! (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Base Carrera S rims are gorgeous. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

New interior makes 2012 the year of 911 transformation. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

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Published on May 23, 2012

Cool new console houses some of my favourite buttons. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 23, 2012

Still a most practical 2+2 with a deep, accommodating front trunk to boot. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

Published on May 23, 2012

If there's been a car that's stayed more true to form and purpose since inception than Porsche's iconic 911 I don't know what it is. Not only has its classic teardrop shape remained intact and engine still hung at back, but inception was almost 50 years ago. Yet while the elementary rudiments of the car seem unchanged, evolutionary development has been constantly ongoing and at a blistering pace.

Every few redesigns the changes are more revolutionary, with the 2012 911 being the single biggest overall advancement since engine cooling went from air to water in 1998. And when I say overall, there's no part of the car that hasn't been modified. The engines are still horizontally opposed six cylinders of various displacements, but they get direct injection to increase output while reducing emissions and consumption. The body has been subtly reshaped from front to rear with the backside getting an updated taillight design that's at once radically new yet somehow could only work on a Porsche. The interior pulls all the best cues from the new Panamera and updated Cayenne, with quality of materials, build execution and design implementation forever putting an end to those who still griped about the few retrospectively antiquated touches left in the outgoing 911. No doubt, now there will be retrospectively antiquated drivers griping about a missing parking brake lever. I might be in that camp, but I haven't quite made up my mind about why it bothers me.

The new 911 gets the same electronic parking brake that the Panamera and Cayenne use, so tugging on the centre lever to incite parking lot donuts in the snow is no longer possible. If you really must, turn off the traction and stability control, turn the wheel to full rotation and let the stock 3.4-litre's 350 horsepower and 287 lb-ft of torque do the spinning for you. My Carrera S tester could have spewed up even more sooty smoke and caramelized rubber pellets with 400 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque at its rear 20s, but I was content with straightforward screechless blasts to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds via the PDK automatic's launch control.

That's when I wasn't just staring at it in my driveway. The new 911 is breathtaking. It would have been beautiful in Black, gorgeous in classic Guards Red, wonderful in White or, nah, I'm not really into yellow anymore, but Porsche gave me one in luscious Lime Gold Metallic; $3,590 well spent. The colour palate doesn't end there, with two additional special colours and seven metallic possibilities available. Other than the new taillights, my favourite design element is the way the new turn signals meld into each front cooling duct, those latter items adorned with black horizontal strakes that look as if they've been yanked right off the rear ducts of an '80s slant nose.

There's nothing remotely retro about the new 911's interior though. Like the rest of the car, Porsche's been steadily improving the cabin year by year, taking a very big step in its last full redesign. But nothing like this. Oh, it still looks like a 911. The key still slots in left of the steering column while the dash top keeps its clean lines with just a single shroud arcing over the primary gauges, and if ordered the gorgeous Sport Chrono digital-analog timer retakes centre stage atop that dash. The door panels and controls still function the same way and seats retain their shape with near perfect comfort and support up front with room for the kids or petite friends in back, but change is made with a new slimmer, sleeker design theme throughout, featuring fluidic curves the permeate nearly every surface. Where the old interior's design seemed upright and dare I say practical, the new cabin leans back in windswept elegance, adding a supercar element that's most evident in the new elongated centre console.

That console features my favourite Porsche button. Call me a poseur, but I just love how you can simply flick a switch to transform this car from purring pussycat clawing cushions into a roaring lion ripping through a chain link fence, the rasping blat from the optional sport exhaust is adrenaline inducing to intoxicating levels. The only buttons I like more sit to the left, "Sport" and "Sport Plus", the former adding rev matched downshifts, higher rpm before shifting, quicker shifts, and a tauter suspension, while the latter is a more intensified version of the above. If you want to achieve somewhere near the new and improved Carrera S fuel economy numbers of 11.6 L/100km city and 7.9 highway with the manual or 11.1 and 7.5 respectively with the PDK, I'd recommend leaving those buttons alone and pressing the one for idle-stop at the lower right. It'll shut down the engine at stoplights to save fuel. A great feature for sure, and one Porsche needs in order to achieve ever-tightening fuel economy and emissions regulations. Alternatively that button can be switched off so as to more fully enjoy the button I mentioned earlier, that gloriously gurgling sport exhaust note at idle. After all, eking out the lowest consumption possible isn't why people buy 911s.

There's a lot of new technology in the 2012 911, some bits to improve fuel economy, like the world's first stock 7-speed manual gearbox, and other pieces to heighten performance, like the revised PASM sport suspension and Dynamic Chassis Control. And then there are technologies designed for convenience' sake, like new optional Power Steering Plus that eases steering input at low speeds, helpful when negotiating tight parking spaces. There's optional Bose audio too, or for audiophiles an 821-watt Bermester system that almost sounds as good as the sport exhaust. The sky's the limit, so pull out your checkbook and get ready to tick off boxes as you personally design your ultimate super car, or simply do what I would and opt for a base model. Truly, at $111,085 including destination there's no better sports car than an off the rack Carrera S. Full on the throttle it's ferociously fun, mashed into the curves it's stiffer body and improved chassis make it ridiculously sticky, and braking from high-speed is absurdly quick. Believe me! A base Carrera S will do!

OK, I give. I just couldn't drive it off the lot without sport exhaust at (ahem) only $3,370. And then there's the $2,110 Sport Chrono package. I'm such a sucker for fine arm candy, and this one is cheap compared to a Porsche Design wristwatch. PASM? It's only $1,020 more, and I'm still under $120k!

Yes, I think I'm finally beginning to understand my girlfriend. Shopping really can be fun!
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Porsche, 2012, 911 Carrera S, $99,999+,

Organizations: Porsche

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