The Porsche 911 Carrera is the company's all-new entry-level version of its iconic sports car.
Given the visual similarities between this 911 and its predecessors you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about, but, believe us, this is like no 911 that has gone before.
What is the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera like to drive?
Although the 911's flat-six engine remains hung out behind the rear axle, much of the unique handling characteristics associated with this rather eccentric approach have been neutralised to such an extent that the new car drives more like the mid-engined Cayman. That's a positive development.
Whereas the nose of the previous car felt flighty and would follow every nook and cranny on the road, it now feels far more planted.
Granted, a degree of sensation has been lost – thanks to the adoption of an electro-mechanical steering system – but the steering remains sharp and faithful. There’s no denying the confidence that comes from front tyres biting into the road surface rather than skipping and bobbing when pushing through a bend.
Overall body control is immaculate, with the suspension holding flat and taut when cornering at high speed, yet the ride quality would shame many an executive car. Road noise is far less intrusive than before, too, so the excessive tyre roar that forbade conversations at anything more than 70mph in the older car is gone.
This new model is also a good deal quicker, thanks to a new 3.4-litre flat-six engine producing 345bhp and 288lb ft of torque. It’s so quick, and the power delivery is so seamless, that we see little need to upgrade to the more powerful, more expensive 3.8-litre Carrera S.
You might want to think about upgrading from the seven-speed manual gearbox to the seven-speed PDK (£2387), though – along with a further few hundred to get the steering column-mounted shifter paddles. Kitted out like this, the 'box shifts hard and fast at the flick of a finger. There's also a delicious bark from the exhaust on the downshifts.
Speaking of which, you might also want to raid the options list for £1772-worth of sports exhaust. It emits a mouth-watering metallic rasp when zipping through the revs, rising to an ear-piercing crescendo as you smash into the 8000rpm rev-limiter.
What’s the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera like inside?
The 911's interior takes its lead from the Porsche Panamera, with a dominant centre console dividing the cabin. The controls are beautifully crafted and sweetly weighted, too.
Although the car is wider, longer and lower it still feels suitably snug. The driving position is low, yet all-round visibility is fine, making it easy to place the car on the road with pinpoint accuracy. The rear seats are optimistically named, however, because rear space is extremely limited and getting in and out of them is a back-breaking affair.
Standard kit includes leather seats, sat-nav, climate control, cruise control, bi-xenon headlights, MP3 connectivity and Porsche Stability Management Control.
Should I buy one?
It has to be said, this new 911 address all the previous car's shortcomings in refinement, comfort and more besides. It truly is a car that you can nip to the shops or cruise to the South of France in – and it's a scintillating sports car into the bargain.
In short, it’s a 911 for the 21st Century and should go straight to the top of your list.
What Car? says…
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