Sheep thrills in my bril­liant Car­rera

Porsche’s 911 may look fa­mil­iar, but it hides some break­through tech­nol­ogy, writes NEIL DOWL­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - Go to­ to see video of the Porsche 911 in action.

ACREST on a Tas­ma­nian back­road, a new Porsche 911 with PDK trans­mis­sion trav­el­ling at the le­gal limit, and an es­caped sheep . . .

The sheep, hid­den from view by the crest, looks up from the cen­tre of the road just as the Porsche driver gets a clear view of the an­i­mal from over the road’s brow. Both freak out.

The in­de­ci­sive sheep goes one way, then the other, to the hor­ror of the driver, who’s now try­ing to crush the brake pedal into the fire­wall.

The only one un­fussed by all this is the Porsche.

In a mil­lisec­ond it changes down from sixth to sec­ond gear and, urged on by the crush­ing weight of the driver’s right foot, en­ables anti-skid brakes, brake as­sist, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and trac­tion con­trol.

The sub­se­quent — and alarm­ingly rapid— de­cel­er­a­tion of the Porsche is matched by the sud­den ac­cel­er­a­tion of the sheep which, thanks to the prompt action of the driver, is un­scathed.

Here in action are some of the tools pro­vided by qual­ity car­mak­ers to avert dis­as­ter and save lives.

One of the ac­ci­dent-eva­sion sys­tems is unique to the lat­est Porsche 911. The PDK (an acro­nym for Ger­man words that trans­late as du­al­clutch trans­mis­sion), is a sim­i­lar sys­tem to that in the VW/Audi DSG and has the abil­ity to in­tu­itively and rapidly re­act to driver de­mands. Porsche has been work­ing on du­al­clutch trans­mis­sions since the late 1970s, though it was in­tended for its racing cam­paigns and was of lit­tle in­ter­est to street cars.

In the early to mid-1980s, PDKe­quipped Porsche rac­ers won on the track and the tech­nol­ogy was then en­hanced, civilised and har­monised with the 911 chas­sis and en­gine.

This year, it makes the show­room.

The seven-cog (six in Sport mode) PDK re­places the faith­ful and in­cred­i­bly trou­ble-free tip­tronic gear­box and is now of­fered as an op­tion on the 911 range at a $6600 pre­mium to the de­light­ful six-speed man­ual.

PDK’s elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing means it’s im­me­di­ately com­pat­i­ble with a host of other elec­tronic giz­mos so can be made to in­ter­act with sus­pen­sion, brakes, sta­bil­ity aids and — most im­por­tantly — the en­gine. So good, it can save a sheep’s life.

All the eye-blink gearchanges used to avoid minced lamb have more ap­peal­ing use on the Sym­mons Plain race track near Launce­s­ton.

Here, the driver can at­tack a cor­ner in sixth gear, stab the ac­cel­er­a­tor and the PDK snaps into sec­ond in time for a power-out cor­ner.

The new trans­mis­sion can be left in D for Drive or punc­tu­ated by flicks of the gear­lever or steer­ing­wheel-mounted pad­dle shifters.

Or, save the $6600 and ex­pe­ri­ence one of the finest gearchanges of any rear-en­gined car.

Porsche’s lat­est

10- model 998-se­ries of the peren­nial 911 — it’s now 45 years old — starts at $210,300 for the man­ual.

The big news is the PDK box, ob­vi­ously, but in re­al­ity there are big­ger mes­sages all over the lat­est car. The en­gine, for ex­am­ple, is of a new gen­er­a­tion that fil­ters into the Boxster and GT2/GT3 mod­els from next year. It shares no com­po­nents with its pre­de­ces­sor and has 40 per cent fewer parts.

Porsche test driver Wal­ter Rohrl re­cently cracked a 7min 56sec lap of the Nur­bur­gring. It’s not the pro­duc­tion-car lap record (7min 29sec for the Nis­san GT-R) but it’s quick for a show­room-fresh 3.8-litre Car­rera S with PDK and op­tional Porsche ad­justable sus­pen­sion.

The 3.6-litre 254kW Car­rera with PDK leaps to 100km/h in 4.7 sec­onds and aver­ages 9.8 litres/100km. It has a mod­est 230g/km of CO2 emis­sions. The 3.8-litre 283kW Car­rera S ac­cel­er­ates in 4.5 sec­onds, drinks 10.2 litres/100km and has 240g/km.

The Car­rera 4 and Car­rera 4S Cabri­o­let are at ei­ther end of the AWD scale, cost­ing $226,500 and $274,600 re­spec­tively as man­u­als and an ex­tra $6600 for the PDK op­tion.

Porsche Cars Aus­tralia boss Michael Win­kler is hold­ing three months’ or­ders for the new 911, 80 per cent of them for the PDK ver­sion.

‘‘The Car­rera 4 mod­els will do a lot bet­ter in sales than the old model be­cause there’s a real, tan­gi­ble ben­e­fit now with the new drive sys­tem,’’ he says.

He ex­pects to sell 350 Car­reras a year, 65 of those be­ing the AWD ‘‘4’’ de­riv­a­tives.

Same dif­fer­ence: the Porsche 911 Car­rera 4, PDK trans­mis­sion mak­ing it more than a match for woolly minded lo­cals.

Top gear: PDK re­places the re­li­able tip­tronic gear­box and is be­ing of­fered as a $6600 op­tion on the six-speed man­ual Car­rera.

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