Cigar Aficionado

My left foot is firmly planted on the brake, my right jamming the throttle to the floor as the engine bounces off the rev limiter. With the track manager giving me a wave, I lift off the brake and the launch control system on my 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S takes over. The G forces grab hold and I plunge deep into the sports car’s seat, my vision narrowing as I focus on the barrier barely a third of a mile ahead. Eighty, 90, 100…the speedometer reads 114 when I finally slam on the brakes, bringing the new 911 to a quick—but safe—stop.

This 911 is all that you expect and more. Redesigning a legend is never easy, and it was all the more difficult when Porsche set out to develop the seventh generation of the 911, the heart and soul of the German brand. What styling chief Michael Mauer has come up with will be readily familiar to Porsche fans, yet it’s not a mere clone. The 2012 model is lower, longer, wider and, as you might suspect, significantly faster and more powerful than before. The base Carrera now makes 350 horsepower and can launch from 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds, while our Carrera S churns out an even 400 hp from its 3.8-liter engine, with 0 to 60 times down to 4.1 seconds—matching the prior-generation’s limited-edition 911 GT3. The S boasts a top speed of 189 mph.

For the 2012 model-year, Porsche introduces the first seven-speed manual gearbox. That should be big news but the reality is the maker has also upgraded its double-clutch PDK transmission. And, loathe as I am to admit it, I’d probably opt for the PDK which shifts nearly as fast as a Formula One race car, whether in automatic or manual mode. 

Meanwhile, the 911’s new electro-hydraulic power steering and Dynamic Chassis Control keep you firmly in touch with the road while all but eliminating body roll in even the sharpest corners. It takes only a few minutes—and a couple hard turns—to feel confident, comfortable and in touch with what the new 911 is doing.

The 2012 update delivers more than just power and performance. The interior of the redesigned Porsche 911 is more lavishly outfitted than the spartan model it replaces and includes a new 14-way power driver’s seat. There’s significantly more standard equipment as well, including the onboard navigation system.

All the improvements have made the 2012 Porsche 911 just that much more fun to drive even while the car’s comfort and convenience factors are also bolstered enough that it can readily be considered a daily driver. The car that has always been the sports car benchmark has once again raised the bar.

The 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S models will reach U.S. dealer showrooms in February at $82,100 and $96,400 respectively—plus $950 in destination charges.