Quick Drive: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S

400hp? Yep. Rear-wheel-drive? Yep. Back country roads and perfect driving weather? Oh yes. This is the wider, lower, longer, and damn fast 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S.

Every Tuesday night during the summer time, I get the chance to help run a local car show. We’ve had varieties of muscle cars, exotics, and hot rods show up to dazzle all of us car fanatics. This past week, a good friend of mine brought out a brand new 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S, and I got to take it on a quick drive throughout some of Wisconsin’s best rural back roads.

Looking at this black Porsche 911, code-named 991, is just stunning. When the recent redesign of the 911 first appeared online months ago, I was hooked. The mechanical gurus at Porsche took one of the best looking sports cars ever made, and made it even better. Drool at it from behind and you’ll see quad exhaust tips out back, deployable rear spoiler, and those revised sharp looking tail lamps.

Want to get under the hood? Good luck, a small opening about the size of the spoiler pops open to give you a bland view of just the cooling fans, and a few lids for your fluids. We joked that it was a dual-purpose hood that served as an additional spoiler for even more downforce. Yes I realize it’s a rear-engine car, but I wish you could see more of that monstrous 400 horsepower 3.8-liter boxer engine. 

She’s got big hips. Move up past the twenty-inch wheels to the front where a pair of all-new headlamps and LED running lights sit above a more aggressive lower bumper. Back seats in Porsche’s have always been kind of a joke, but my 6’1 lanky self had to see just how cranked to the side my head and neck would be. Whatever, the driver’s seat is what you’re really buying.

I’m not a fan of cars with zillions of buttons, no no no, keep it simple. In this case though, the 911 Carrera S didn’t have an overwhelming amount of buttons which was nice. The center counsel hints at Porsche’s almighty Carrera GT super car from the mid 2000s, as it rises up towards the dashboard.

This particular 911 Carrera S had the optional PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung… had to look up the spelling on that one) seven-speed automatic transmission. I had my fingers crossed tight hoping I’d get to drive one with the new seven-speed manual. As a true gear head, manual-transmissions are the way to go, but there are a few exceptions I’ve made for decent automatics. Weeks ago I drove my friend Mikee’s brand new 2012 VW GTI with the six-speed DSG automatic transmission… It felt like a go-kart and I loved it. Now sitting behind the wheel of this $111,900 super Porsche, I was anxious to try out this frequently mis-pronounced gearbox. 

Pulling out of the show lot, I was impressed by the electric power assist steering that tempted  me to try maneuvering the 911 Carrera S at low speeds with just my pinky finger. The drivers seat was as comfortable as a business-class seat on some pricey European airline. Looking ahead at the 200mph speedometer and giant GPS screen in the second-right gauge, I couldn’t help but think how cool it’d be for Porsche to bring back the swivel gauges like they did in the older 911s.

Heading out onto my favorite wide-open stretch of country roads, I plopped the gear selector over into manual mode, pushed the optional Sport button and let the Carrera S work its magic. Porsche claims the 2012 911 Carrera S will fly to 60mph in the very low 4 second range. This is true, trust me. Apart from the blitz-fast acceleration, the ride was fantastic. I always like driving cars on this particular stretch of road because of the occasional bumps. I was expecting the new 911 Carrera S to bounce around and just be a pain on uneven road, nope not the case. I’d even argue that the 2012 Nissan GTR I drove a while back had a much much worse ride.

Handling around the big curve was smooth and easy as you just pointed the nose of the 911 Carrera S into the curve and stepped on the gas. For a 400-horsepower German rocket, it was a breeze to drive. I was reminded too just how fun, rear-wheel-drive cars are with high horsepower and near-perfect suspension. I’ll pass on the all-wheel-drive Carrera4 models. The base (non $8,000+ optional carbon-ceramic) brakes stopped and slowed the car too without a nervous sweat.

Fantastic is the word that best matches Porsche’s seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission. I strayed away from the paddle shifters and chose to tap up or down the gear lever. Shifts were blink-of-an-eye fast and smooth, especially when downshifting into the uphill S-curve. Then there’s the sound. Porsche’s flat-six engines have never earned a sweet spot in my ears. Never. The exhaust note from this 911 Carrera S made me not only feel like I was driving a race car, but made smile more than a little kid would on a Christmas morning.

Porsche, you’ve won me over,  I’ll buy a new 991 generation Carrera S…..Black works just fine too.


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