Behind the wheel of the new Porsche 911

BY February 16, 2012

If you were among the 300 or so folks invited to last week’s unveiling of Porsche’s brand new 911 at Porsche of Naples you already know that those crazy kids from Zuffenhausen have totally recreated their iconic sports car from the ground up. But to think that so many people—not to mention two television stations—would actually show up for the unveiling of a car that’s been around since 1963 was wonderfully surprising. Clearly, taste, style and materialism are alive and well and we couldn’t be happier about it.

To the untrained eye, the newest Porsche looks identical to last year’s version—but nothing could be further from the truth. Well OK, it does look similar, but it’s actually lower, wider, faster and sexier. It even smells better.* In fact, 90 percent of the components are either new or fundamentally revised. That info was good enough for those in attendance to be sufficiently wowed and encouraged them to take every opportunity to their get photo ops in and some seat time. And while we were no better, we were smarter, scheduling a test drive the next morning with Philippe Martin, a sales and leasing consultant at Porsche of Naples.

The car, a 2012 Carrera S, is capable of reaching 60 mph in a scant 3.9 seconds thanks to its 400 horsepower 3.8 liter boxer engine and the optional 7-speed PDK transmission and Sport Chrono Package (together, a $6400 upgrade that is TOTALLY worth it). Philippe offered to drive first for the test run in order to explain some of the car’s more complex features. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of buttons and switches on this thing that help make the car faster, louder and cooler. Once we were allowed behind the wheel, we flipped and switched all of them to the “on” position. Frankly, there should be just one button and it should say “Awesome” and have no “off” position. At a base price of $96,400 ($112,875 as tested), there is no reason to not go for broke and keep all the cool switches on.

Nevertheless, Philippe (he’s from France—and we know this because it said so on his nametag) was sufficiently proud of the car’s abilities and encouraged us to test as many as our insurer and attorney were comfortable with. To say the car is remarkably capable sounds like a backhanded compliment, but the technology built into the new 911 make even the most spectacular maneuvers seem common. We won’t tell you how fast we were going but we don’t remember being passed—ever. From flooring it on the on-ramp to flooring it on the off-ramp, the new 911 is sublime and businesslike. It’s got all the potency of its Italian counterparts without any of that gold chain wearing showiness. (You know what we mean.) It’s German and it doesn’t want you to forget it. And with cool techie features such as a multi-function steering wheel (which includes controls for everything from the onboard computer to the PDK gearshift controls) to the touch screen display built into the totally redesigned interior, owners can finally be proud of their Porsche’s interior. Frankly, it’s a place we didn’t feel like leaving. In fact, we were out so long the other salesmen had to text Philippe and ask him to bring the car back so other customer’s could check it out. That’s the only part of the drive where we took things a little slower. Even then we didn’t let anyone pass us.

*Writer’s opinion.

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