Let me state the obvious right off the bat: IT IS FAST.
I am driving the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S, a car that is simply a blast to drive and one of the few sports cars I don’t think people would ever get tired of. It is an amazing machine.
Generally, I shy away from cars that I don’t get a lot of questions on, but there were some big changes to the 911 for 2012, and I just had to find out what they were all about. Plus, I needed a little fun time behind the wheel for a change.
This 7th-generation 911 now sits on a longer wheelbase and is lower to the ground. The front wheels were moved out for more stability and a better ride, both nice improvements from the last 911 I reviewed a couple of years ago.
Also new is the rear-mounted engine, which is a 3.8-liter six-cylinder that is putting out 400-horses and feels like a lot more. For $4080, my test car has an optional 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that can be shifted from the stick or with the paddles on the steering wheel.
As you would expect, the Carrera S comes equipped with just about everything as standard, such as leather interior, a great Bose sound system with 12-speakers, climate controlled air conditioning, Bluetooth, and a speed-activated rear spoiler.
My test car has a $2950 sport exhaust which is activated by a button on the center console. You can turn it off to use the phone or better hear the radio, then turn it on when you want to experience the thrill of the sound. This car has 20” wheels, which comes at a price of just $390. The silver metallic paint adds $3140 to the price tag, and the upgraded Espresso natural leather interior tacks on another $5200.
One thing I love about this car is that you can completely change the ride, drive, and handling of the car with just a few buttons on the center console. Choose the button for Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active roll stabilization system, and it is like driving a different car. This option is available for the first time on the 911 Carrera S. For example, the system reduces lateral inclination when cornering, the tires always being in the optimal position relative to the road surface and able to transmit higher lateral forces. Maximum cornering speeds are increased.
The Sport Chrono Package ($2370) including dynamic engine mounts is available as an option. This integrated system provides simultaneous enhancement for the chassis, engine and transmission.
Included in the package are a performance display, a digital and an analogue stopwatch and the SPORT PLUS button. An additional display in the steering wheel and instrument cluster indicates whether the SPORT buttons and Launch Control have been activated.
On activation of SPORT PLUS mode, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) switch to a harder damping setting and offer more direct steering and, therefore, better road holding.
In SPORT PLUS mode, the trigger threshold is raised. Agility is greatly enhanced when braking for corners, allowing sportier braking and exit acceleration. For maximum dexterity, the 911 can be set to standby while the car is still in SPORT PLUS mode. For safety, it is set to intervene automatically only when ABS assistance is required on both the front wheels.
In combination with automatic transmission, the Sport Chrono Package has two additional functions for a sporty drive that borders on a motorsport experience. The first is ‘Launch Control’, which can be used on the track to achieve the best possible standing start.
No car is untouched when it comes to increased fuel mileage. The Carrera S has the stop/start feature which kills the engine when you stop, but does not turn off the air conditioning or any other power features. Thankfully, there is a button to bypass this, as I find it annoying on a car that sounds as good as this one.
This is nothing like driving a Porsche, especially the 911. It is an engineering marvel, yet retro in many ways. I see many interior changes that closely resemble the layout of the Panamera I had a few years ago.
The Porsche 911 Carrera S is a beast of a car, no question about it, but the changes for 2012 make it a serious luxury car contender too.
What I liked most: The interior and the feel of the car in different modes.
What I would change: Not a thing.
MSRP: $96,400 base price, as tested, $128,940
Fuel Economy: Rated at 20 City/27 Highway, but do you really care?
2012 Carrera S in a few words: A beast under the hood, luxury inside.