Review: Porsche 911 Carrera SBy Philip Shoulder
January 07, 2013
The latest 991 variant holds true to the Porsche 911 Carrera 'evolution, not revolution' design philosophy.
Visually it’s still unmistakably a 911, as is the position of the powertrain – out over the rear axle. The 3.8 engine of this S model now packs 400 hp.
From here though, similarities with previous incarnations end. This seventh generation car uses 90 per cent new mechanical components, including the use of aluminum in key structural areas, resulting in a weight reduction of 45kg, despite the whole body growing in length over its predecessor by 56mm: 100mm in wheelbase and 46mm at the front.
Aerodynamic optimisation – including a wider, variably extending rear spoiler – has reduced the lift generated by the new 911 Carrera Coupé while retaining an impressive 0.29 drag factor.
Other revelations are electromechanical power steering and the first-ever seven-speed gearbox found in a passenger car.
The seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic introduced three years ago for the 997-series remains available.
IN THE CABIN:
The 991’s interior sees a marked improvement over the 997’s in terms of both quality and ergonomics, with the dashboard adopting a similar layout to the Panamera. As you’d expect in a car with this much sporting pedigree, the driving position is spot on, thanks to comfortable front sports seats and little, if any, pedal offset.
Despite the increase in exterior dimensions, there’s not any perceptible increase of interior dimensions, although the cabin remains spacious, with generous amounts of stowage space (good-sized glovebox, cup holders, side door bins).
The rear seats remain for kids’ use only, although can fold down to create an additional luggage area.
Good all-round visibility means maneuvering and parking is a doddle – which is more than can be said for a large number of rivals that suffer from severely hampered rear three-quarter vision.
Standard equipment on all cars includes: leather seats, climate control and Porsche’s Communication Management System; which includes SatNav, six airbags and Porsche’s Stability Management System (traction control).
Roof down, the cabrio’s cabin remains quiet enough to hold a conversation - even at speed; while the electronically deployed wind deflector does a good job of keeping air turbulence out of the cockpit.
ON THE ROAD:
On the road and track, like all its forebears, the 911 impresses with its poise and purity of handling. You always know exactly what the car is doing and the communicative chassis and steering means that it’s addictively involving to drive, even when just cruising along.
Outright performance has seen improvement and thanks to the combination of weight loss and power gains the Carrera S with PDK sprints from 0-62 mph in 4.3 sec, 0.2 sec quicker than its predecessor. Thanks to the extra 50 hp,the Carrera S feels gutsier throughout the rev range, too. The power delivery of the flat six is multi-layered: there’s a hard kick at 3500 rpm which builds all the way up to 5000 rpm, before a further level of urgency materialises as the 1 engine reaches peak power output at 7400rpm
Driver involvement is what this car has always been renowned for: possessing a deftness of touch that eludes many sport car manufacturers.
The chassis always communicates to the driver exactly what the car’s up to.
Approaching a fast corner the front feels so precise on the turn in and the rear-mounted engine and driven rear wheels means there’s massive amounts of traction and grip to push the car around the corner in a way that only a 911 can.
Thankfully, although the reputation may linger, the days of dreaded lift-off oversteer are well and truly gone –the result of constant evolution and ever-increasing sophistication. On top of that, Porsche Stability Management (PSM) adds a further safety net that make the latest 911 exceptionally safe and secure to drive, even in the wet.
The system automatically maintains stability, even at the limits of dynamic driving performance.
Sensors continuously monitor the speed, yaw velocity and lateral acceleration of the car.
If the car begins to oversteer or understeer, PSM applies selective braking on individual wheels in order to regain stability.
A key concern with the 991 was the introduction of a new electro-mechanical steering system.
A back-to-back comparison reveals a slight difference in sensation, but that’s all.
The new steering retains all the feel, information and accuracy of the old hydraulic powered set-up, allowing drivers to notice any change in surface camber and grip level, just as before.
What has seen a noticeable improvement over the old model is ride comfort.
The longer wheelbase has resulted in a more pliant and settled ride over poor road surfaces. Thanks to better sound insulation, cabin refinement has improved too, making 911 a more comfortable long-distance companion.
Although purists may prefer the extra engagement of the seven-speed manual, the PDK auto is actually the quicker option – being able to whip through its seven ratios with remarkable swiftness.
The beauty of it being an auto of course, is that it makes the car easier and more relaxing to drive – particularly in town.
Any premium sports car such as this isn’t exactly going to be cheap to buy or run, yet the new 911 boasts running costs that undercut key rivals.
A 16 per cent reduction in emissions and fuel consumption have been achieved over the outgoing 997 model, thanks to a combination of weight saving and implementation of new systems.
These include auto start/stop, thermal management, electrical system recuperation and a ‘coasting’ function on the PDK auto gearbox, which decouples the engine for enhanced fuel efficiency when the throttle is closed. Porsche claim 32.5 mpg and 205 g/km CO2.
Real world figures – particularly for drivers with a heavy right foot - may well be lower, however.
Where Porsche could be a bit more generous is with the levels of standard equipment.
On a car starting at £81,242, surely Bluetooth connectivity and heated seats should come as standard? Options are rather pricey too.
It might not be as head-turning as an Aston Martin Vantage or Audi R8, or as cosseting as a Jaguar XK, but to its fans, this matters not one iota.
911 always has been, and remains the definitive all-round sports car – capable of providing driving involvement that few rivals can match.
Concerns that this latest incarnation had gone too far in the technology stakes, thereby diluting the 911 magic, are unfounded.
The new Carrera S retains the iconic 911 shape and idiosyncrasies for which the model has become renowned, but adds increased performance, efficiency and comfort to the equation.
|Model||911 Carrera (PDK)|
|Engine||6 cyls horizontally opposed, 3800cc, normally aspirated|
|Max Power:||400 hp at 7,400 rpm|
|Max Torque:||440 Nm at 5,600 rpm|
|Transmission||7-spd PDK (Porsche Doppellkupplungsgetriebe)|
|Max Speed:||187 mph|
|Acceleration: 0-62 mph||4.3 secs|
|MPG (combined):||32.5 mpg|