An­other step along the road to per­fec­tion for the lat­est Porsche

The shape still looks the same but be­neath the skin the 911 con­tin­ues to evolve. Fred­eric Manby tried one at Sil­ver­stone.

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES -

MARK Burkin­shaw moved quickly but gen­tly, giv­ing the steer­ing wheel of the Car­rera S a mi­nor ad­just­ment to bring a ma­jor change to the bal­ance of this lat­est Porsche I was try­ing to drive quickly round Sil­ver­stone race cir­cuit.

Mark, mid 40s, orig­i­nally from Sh­effield (he may have taught you to pass your driv­ing test there) is one of the ex­pert in­struc­tors at the Porsche Ex­pe­ri­ence Cen­tre, Sil­ver­stone.

The day was wet. I did no­tice I was catch­ing the two cars in front, so must have been do­ing some­thing right – or they were do­ing some­thing wrong. No mat­ter.

This is an­other new 911 which looks pretty much like the last one in a process of evo­lu­tion which takes the leg­endary rear-en­gined car a step nearer per­fec­tion. It is big­ger but lighter and has bet­ter han­dling and neater body con­trol at high speeds, well, at very high speeds. Love the badge, too, a heraldic shield, none of your pranc­ing nags.

I am pre­pared to ac­cept that it han­dles bet­ter at speed. In the hands of Porsche’s Timo Kluck it is 14 sec­onds quicker round the Nur­bur­gring than the last Car­rera S, in 7m 40 sec. The dy­namic chas­sis con­trol sys­tem, fit­ted for the first time in a 911, con­trib­uted four or five sec­onds saved. This is an op­tional ex­tra and re­duces body roll and keeps the wheels in bet­ter con­tact with the road.

A wet track, even with the ex­pert in­struc­tor, was no place to sense the dif­fer­ences. How­ever, it is nois­ier in­side be­cause a res­onator pipe has been fit­ted to bring a throat­ier noise in to the cabin – af­ter com­ment by ex­ist­ing 911 cus­tomers that they wanted more roar for their bucks.

The 911 be­gan in 1963 with the model called the 901. The 2012 ver­sion is the fourth all-new model (de­fined by hav­ing a new wheel­base) and the sev­enth gen­er­a­tion. Through­out, it has re­tained a flat-six en­gine mounted over and driv­ing the rear wheels, un­der a dis­tinc­tive two-door coupe body with a front lug­gage boot.

This time, the 911 uses alu­minium for just un­der half the body mass, with a 13 per cent weight sav­ing on the bodyshell and a 25 per cent gain in tor­sional stiff­ness. The car is some two inches (56mm) longer, with shorter over­hangs to achieve a 100mm gain in the wheel­base. It is min­i­mally lower and the same width, but the front is not as pinched in, push­ing the wheels out for bet­ter sta­bil­ity.

The cool­ing of the en­gine, gear­box and brakes is

Fit­ted with Porsche’s lat­est PDK twin clutch au­to­matic gear­box it achieves an of­fi­cial 34.4mpg.

im­proved, mean­ing a front ra­di­a­tor for the au­to­matic gear­box is no longer needed. A larger rear wing gen­er­ates down­force for the first time in the stan­dard Car­rera model. The wing ad­justs to the air­flow cre­ated by the sun­roof, use­fully a third big­ger, which now slides back over the roof – thus not im­ping­ing on in­te­rior head­room.

The Car­rera’s new 3.4 litre en­gine achieves the same torque but de­liv­ers five more horse power than the old 3.6, with gains in miles per gal­lon and re­duc­tions in CO2. The man­ual gear­box is the world’s first seven speeder. When fit­ted with Porsche’s lat­est PDK twin clutch au­to­matic gear­box it achieves an of­fi­cial 34.4mpg and with 194g/km of CO2 is the first Porsche to dip un­der the 200g mark. It runs on 19 inch wheels.

The Car­rera S en­gine re­mains at 3.8 litres but has an ad­di­tional 15hp to reach 394bhp and a sim­i­lar gain in torque. It also has bet­ter mpg and CO2 fig­ures, with the PDK gear­box rated at 32.5mpg and the CO2 fig­ure down 35g/km to 205g/km – bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous 3.6 Car­rera. It has 20-inch wheels.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion is marginally quicker on both mod­els, with a man­ual Car­rera reach­ing 62mph in 4.8 sec­onds and 179mph. Fit­ted with the PDK gear­box the 0-62mph time is 4.6 sec­onds and with the rapid start Sport Chrono pack 4.4 sec­onds. The com­par­a­tive fig­ures for the Car­rera S are 4.5, 4.3 and 4.1 sec­onds and a max of 188mph.

The pur­chase price rises to £71,449 for the Car­rera with man­ual gears (a £4,179 in­crease) and to £81,242 for the Car­rera S (up £5,070). Porsche mit­i­gates these by claim­ing big re­duc­tions in run­ning costs (sup­pos­ing you achieve the mpg gains), nav­i­ga­tion and 2-zone cli­mate con­trol and so on. It says the added kit on each model is worth some £2,700 at re­tail.

The im­proved PDK gear­box is smoother set­ting off, and now has a coast­ing func­tion. It is £2,387 and will be or­dered by 75 per cent of Car­rera S buy­ers. The Sport Chrono pack, which in­cludes dy­namic en­gine mounts to stop the en­gine mov­ing when be­ing ham­mered round a race track, is £1,376. Some 85 per cent of Car­rera S buy­ers are ex­pected to take this op­tion. A tele­phone mod­ule will be taken by nine out of 10 own­ers and costs an ex­tra £558.

The cabin now looks bet­ter, with hints of the Panam­era, and is more er­gonomic in parts. The cen­tral tun­nel rises to­wards the dash­board, lift­ing the gearshift lever nearer the steer­ing wheel for hand­ier fast ac­tion. The steer­ing col­umn now has elec­tric power for in­ward and tilt ad­just­ment. You still start it by turn­ing a key – what would own­er­ship be with­out that em­bossed heraldic key?

The seven-speed man­ual gear­box has de­cent shift­ing. Sev­enth gear gives 70mph at 2,000rpm, so is not all that lazy and pulls well at lower speeds.

The new Car­rera mod­els are on sale now, joined by the cabri­o­let on March 3. The Car­rera 4, GTS and Turbo mod­els of the out­go­ing se­ries re­main on sale this year and are ex­pected to be re­placed in 18 to 24 months.

Ver­dict: More su­per duper than be­fore.

More: 08457 911 911.

ALL NEW: Porsche Car­rera S 911 – the en­gine re­mains at 3.8 litres but has an ex­tra 15hp to reach 394bhp. The new car is big­ger and lighter.

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