An Exhilarating Drive: Porsche 911 Carrera

In the past dozen years, the resurgence of iconic but long-suffering supercar marques like Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and Bugatti has created a sort of premium brand inflation.

For automotive purists, there is at least one constant that brings it all into perspective: the Porsche 911 Carrera. Starting at $110,800, the Porsche 911 may be the closest thing to divine inspiration on four wheels, and it remains a relative bargain in an ever-growing field of exotics.

When the new 911 Carrera S Cabriolet was delivered for a test drive, I’ll admit to feigning aloof ennui as I signed the paperwork. But, in fact, my palms were itching to grab the wheel and settle into the (optional) adaptive sport 18-way adjustable driver’s seat. I even felt a mild panic about mastering the Porsche Doppelkupplung’s twin-clutch automatic transmission. Since it was a Cabriolet, I popped the top and took off along the Delaware River on an imaginary lap of the Monaco Grand Prix. Reaching a deserted industrial complex, I found the perfect straightaway. On that stretch of macadam, I jammed the accelerator and let loose the 400 horsepower of the Porsche’s storied horizontally opposed 6 cylinder 3.8 power plant.

The Porsche 911 may be the closest thing to divine inspiration on four wheels.

The rush of triple-digit speed was crisp and accompanied by an engine sound and exhaust note that didn’t so much roar as whoosh. Initially the driving feel of the Porsche is precise and very light, but with rising velocity, the Carrera creates amazing down-force and hugs the pavement with incredible sure-footedness. The design of the Porsche’s new aluminum-steel body provides a sportier drive, as well as lower fuel consumption. Overall, the new construction has produced an 18 percent improvement in torsional rigidity, with smoother handling and comfort. Possessing a longer wheelbase than the previous edition, the Carrera has a wider front track and a new electromechanical power steering system that provides better driving dynamics, greater precision, and amazing high-speed agility.

Part of the magic of the Porsche design is that the improvements and refinements in the new edition provide both an improved sporting response and an increased overall efficiency. The stats tell the story, as Porsche delivers more power and better handling, while providing excellent mileage—19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.