By Micah Muzio - Updated Date: 7/16/2012
2012 finds Porsche in the middle of updating its iconic 911, an immediately recognizable sports car with lineage stretching back to the middle of the last century. The 2012 911 Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet as well as the Carrera S Coupe and Cabriolet are built off the all-new 7th-Generation architecture, one that offers considerable advances in roadholding, new technology and fuel economy. The remaining 2012 911 models, the Carrera 4, Targa, GTS and Turbo, continue to be available on the well-respected 6th-generation platform – for the time being. They, too, will soon undergo the transformation, which gives the new-generation 911 a slightly sleeker profile and longer wheelbase. Porsche devotees, cynical journalists and hair-triggered Internet commenters would lash out if the classic 911 formula was tweaked too radically. Thankfully, the task of updating the 2012 911 fell to Porsche's crack team of engineers, designers and product planners, which should keep the Porsche faithful happy while updating it with new technology to help it remain a prime player on the sports car stage.You'll Like This Car If...
For generations the standard automotive trophy for those who've succeeded financially in life has been the Porsche 911. Whether you want to show that you've arrived, or just enjoy the drive before you do, the 2012 Porsche 911 remains a compelling sports car choice.You May Not Like This Car If...
Porsche has great respect for the 911's rich heritage; consequently, the brand favors modest evolutionary updates. Consider the Nissan GT-R or Audi R8 if you appreciate truly advanced design and engineering, or the familiar handling characteristics that come when an engine is placed in front of the rear axle.What's New for 2012
The Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet and Carrera S Coupe and Cabriolet versions of the 2012 Porsche 911 bring forth numerous efficiency-focused technologies: a new electro-mechanical steering system that runs only when power boost is needed, an auto stop/start system that shuts off the engine at stoplights, a "sail" feature that allows the engine to idle when coasting downhill, and the first 7-speed manual transmission used in a passenger car.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Porsche 911 is renowned for stellar steering feel, but the new-generation 911's electro-mechanical steering is less communicative than the previous car's due to some electronic nannies Porsche has added to keep the driver on track. In action the steadier steering and improved stability afforded by the new car's longer wheelbase make the new-generation 2012 Porsche 911 easier to drive, especially at higher speeds. Driven with gusto the newest 911 feels fast, fun and capable, like it's working on the driver's behalf instead of waiting for him to make a mistake. Hardcore enthusiasts may object but buyers looking for a fast, thrilling car with synaptic steering can still pick up one of the carryover Carrera 4, Targa, Turbo or GTS models. It's also worth mentioning that, despite occasionally intrusive road noise, the new 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera makes a comfortable long distance tourer.Favorite Features
7-SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSION
For 2012, Porsche has introduced the world's first 7-speed manual transmission. It has six close-ratio gears for good acceleration and a tall overdrive 7th gear for relaxed and economical cruising. A smart lock-out system prevents 7th gear from being selected unless 5th or 6th have been selected first, making this performance-enhancing transmission nearly as easy to use as a regular 6-speed.
PDK TWIN-CLUTCH TRANSMISSION
Porsche's PDK transmission features two clutches, seven forward gears and gives drivers the choice of manual or automatic gear changes. We already liked the PDK but for 2012 a coasting feature that lets the engine idle when decelerating and an engine shut-off feature that saves gas at stop lights make it even better.
Like its exterior, the interior of the new-generation 2012 Porsche 911 feels familiar, with round gauges, an ignition placed left of the steering wheel, lush materials throughout and, of course, rear seats sized for whisking Frodo to the shire. The all-new Power Sport front seats are quite comfortable and supportive, a larger tilt-and-slide sunroof improves headroom, and the new full-length console is inspired by the Carrera GT supercar. The new-generation 2012 911's front trunk offers a modest 4.7 cubic feet of space but that can be supplemented by an optional roof-rack system and rear seats that now fold down individually to create a parcel shelf.Exterior
Some observers might confuse the all-new and the previous-generation 2012 Porsche 911 models, but view the two side-by-side and distinctions emerge. The new car's roof is lower and its body longer than that of the previous model, with a wheelbase that has stretched nearly 4 inches. The new car looks wider and sleeker with headlights that bulge slightly and tail lights that have thinned to stylish strips. Porsche certainly could have pushed the aesthetic boundaries further but overall the designers did their job, delivering a new-generation 911 that looks fresh yet classic.Notable Standard Equipment
The "base" 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet come well equipped with bi-xenon headlights, 19-inch wheels, an electric parking brake, dual-zone automatic climate control, Alcantara trim, a navigation system with a 7-inch display and a 235-watt 9-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary inputs. Standard safety features include stability control, traction control and eight airbags, including front occupant knee airbags. The 2012 Carrera 4, Targa, Turbo and GTS have similar standard equipment, but use a smaller navigation screen and retain the mechanical parking brake. All-wheel drive is also standard on the Carrera 4, Targa and Turbo. The Targa features a stunning all-glass roof. GTS models sport the wide-body look of the Turbo.Notable Optional Equipment
Among the highlights from the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S option sheet are heated and ventilated front seats, a sport exhaust system with convenient loud button, 12-speaker Bose and Burmester premium audio systems, ceramic composite brakes, a sport chrono package with dynamic engine mounts and Porsche's Active Suspension Management, which is an option on the Carrera but standard on the Carrera S. Another notable option is PDCC, or Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, a system that uses active anti-sway bars to drastically reduce body roll when cornering. Most of these same options are available on the 2012 Carrera 4, Targa, Turbo and GTS.Under the Hood
From a mechanical perspective, the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera pulls off a neat trick, offering greater efficiency and more power, enabling quicker 0-to-60-mpg acceleration times in the mid 4-second range for the Carrera and the low 4's for the Carrera S. Make that 3.1 seconds if your 911 Turbo S has the PDK transmission and sport chrono package and you use its excellent launch control feature. At the same time, reduced curb weights and efficiency-focused tweaks like automatic engine shutoff throughout the lineup make the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S more fuel-efficient than the previous models.
2012 Porsche 911 Carrera
350 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm
287 lb-ft of torque @ 5,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg
911 Carrera S
400 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 5,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
911 Carrera 4 and Targa
345 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
288 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
911 Carrera 4S and Targa S
385 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
310 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg
911 Carrera GTS
408 horsepower @ 7,300 rpm
310 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17-18/25-26 mpg
911 Turbo and Turbo S
3.8-liter turbocharged flat-6 turbo
500 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (Turbo)
530 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm (Turbo S)
516 lb-ft of torque @ 2,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 mpg (Turbo), 17/25 mpg (Turbo S)
Prices for the 2012 Porsche 911 start at around $83,000 for the Carrera and around $97,000 for the Carrera S and run all the way up to around $173,000 for a 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. In typical Porsche style, the option list is long and pricy. Load up a Carrera S with all the available goodies and the price can easily top $140,000. For up-to-date pricing on the 2012 Porsche 911 be sure to check out the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what people in your area are paying. Resale value has been a traditional strong suit for the Porsche 911. We expect the 2012 model to continue that tradition with residual numbers that are similar to or better than those for the Nissan GT-R and Audi R8. Interestingly, the Chevrolet Corvette is expected to hold its value better than the Porsche 911 over the long haul.