When you have been refining, tweaking and improving the same car for nearly 50 years and seven generations, that car becomes very, very good.
The seventh generation Porsche 911 Carrera is very, very good, and although it’s an entirely different vehicle than the original, the mission, spirit and basic look of the classic Porsche sport car are still the same.
The 2013 Porsche 911 is a little larger and wider than the previous model, producing a more muscular look. In that process, the Porsche flagship has lost about 100 pounds of body fat thanks to the extensive use of composites and aluminum-steel composite construction. This latest version is on an entirely new platform, only the third one since the original. In addition to the new look on the outside, the interior takes on a new dimension – elegance.
Open the lightweight door and the monotone interior displays beautiful simple lines accented with a tasteful brushed aluminum trim all inspired by the Porsche Carrera GT supercar. Tailored for the driver like a custom-made suit, the console, center stack and steering wheel include all the controls to make this car sing and dance like no other. The one requirement for the driver, however, is an understanding or knowledge of what the car does and can do. This is a sophisticated machine that can just as easily get the driver into trouble as it can perform magic.
The car is also amazingly user friendly in everyday driving. Once you readjust to the fact that the ignition is on the left side of the steering wheel, it is easy to drive. It’s even easy to get in and out of, thanks to good planning and a wide door.
We tested the Porsche 911 Carrera, which is the entry level model of an expanding number of variations. A 350-hp, 3.4-liter water cooled engine sits in the rear compartment, just behind the rear wheels. This engine is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and to a top speed of 178 mph. The next step up, the 911 S, makes the same 0 to 60 mph run in 3.5 seconds and it goes on to 189 mph.
New and improved, with more than 90 percent changed from the previous version, the 911 Carrera gets the world’s first passenger car seven-speed manual transmission. Also new is electro-mechanical power steering and an auto start/stop system to save fuel. There are also changes to the suspension, the Porsche Torque Vectoring and active suspension management systems.
The seven-speed manual transmission joins the optional seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) double-clutch gearbox. The PDK actually shifts quicker and more efficiently than anyone can with a manual transmission. As a result, it produces not only one mile per gallon better fuel economy, but better acceleration times.
Since the coupe debuted early in 2012, all-wheel drive models and convertibles have been added. Soon we will see a new turbo version and even more racy variations over the next few years.
We picked up our Porsche 911 Carrera test car at the airport after returning from a week’s cruise. That meant we were traveling heavy with two large suitcases, a smaller bag and briefcase, not our normal compact roll-aboards. We were nervous about fitting the luggage under the small bonnet and behind the seat, but everything fit very easily. The cargo area in the front swallowed up one of the large suitcases and a brief case, while the others easily fit in the rear when the rear seat backs were folded.
The 911 is actually a four-passenger car, not a two seater. While riding in the rear seat would be extremely uncomfortable that space works great for packages and bags. With the rear seatback folded the space will hold up to 7.2 cubic feet. Not many other cars with supercar performance can boast such cargo space.
Although we’ve driven previous 911 models on racetracks previously, our experiences in this one was limited to local roads and highways. Other than an occasional blast of acceleration, we were quite conservative for obvious reasons. Can you just imagine how excited a patrol officer would be when pulling over a bright yellow Porsche that went screaming by at 120 mph?
When you do ‘floor’ the accelerator to run through a few gears, the acceleration is breathtaking. Running it through our mountain road course near our home the car was faster around the corners than anything else driven recently, and that was without pushing. We’d love to get this car on the track.
We were surprised that despite a few acceleration bursts, we averaged 24.1mpg. The EPA rates it at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Barbara is a much more conservative driver, and we think on a road trip that she could easily top 27 mpg.
Like most high performance sports cars, the 911 Carrera isn’t cheap. The base price is $85,250, including the destination charge. The 911S is $14,600 more and the Cabriolet is $11,900 more for either the 911 or 911S. Because a Porsche is not a mass market style vehicle, Porsche offers a very high level of available customization. That means a car starting at $85,200 can very easily bottom line at well over $100,000.