2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on November 20, 2012

Published on November 20, 2012

If I chose my Porsche, this would be it. A just-over-base 911 Carrera with rear-wheel drive and a standard seven-speed manual gearbox. This one has a few must-haves added on, such as a set of the Stuttgart marque's ultra-supportive heated sport seats and a perfectly button-less SportDesign steering wheel. I was ok to reach over to the upgraded Bose surround sound system up high on the centre stack. I think less about music or what's on the news than usual when I'm driving a 911 anyway, especially one equipped with this car's PASM sport suspension, not to mention Porsche Torque Vectoring. The suspension upgrades were capped off with a set of 20-inch SportDesign rims. Delicious. My tester even came in the colour I'd choose: Platinum Silver Metallic. The only thing missing was Sport Chrono atop the dash, and I only want that because I've got a thing for beautiful watches.

This is the first 911 coupe press car in a very long time that didn't include a sunroof. It's just a given. But I wouldn't want one. It adds weight up high where it's least beneficial for a car's centre of gravity, and I never use it. A colleague I was driving with was disgruntled at the omission, showing we're all totally and completely unique. Which is why, I'm beginning to understand, a lot of items that might come standard with other brands are optional with Porsche. Even the seats, standard in leather, need to be upgraded with heaters if you want them. And why not? Why should those who never use them pay more for a higher priced base model? Not to mention the weight penalty. We're talking about a sports car here, not an overwrought luxury limousine. And boy is it ever a sports car!

If you've never put a Porsche 911 through its paces on a winding backcountry road, or better yet, a circuitous track where neither harm nor hassle can hamper the experience, you really must. I've heard the uninitiated comment that a 911 is for poseurs, but they couldn't be farther from the truth. Ignorance often speaks loudest, after all. While certainly some might buy a Porsche for the sole purpose of improving their personal image, and to that end it can go a lot farther in providing client-impressing prestige than flashing your big fancy Panerai or Perrelet while climbing out of your pre-owned Prelude, it's the driving experience that makes a 911 the one sports car to own if you can only have one.

If you must, buy a used 911 before you opt for a new anything else. Not only will you save a bundle in depreciation, but a 10-year old 911 is 10 times the sports car than most anything new you can get for the same money. If you're fortunate enough to have earned an extra $107,445 in dividends this year (Christmas bonuses are on the way after all), then this particularly fine 2013 Porsche 911 C2 press car could be yours. But then again, you might want to order one and get the Sport Chrono package for only $2,110 more. Oh, and now that I'm thinking about extras, the sport exhaust system is way too tempting at only $3,370. Believe me, if you could hear the difference it makes you'd think it was a must-have too. A set of auto-dimming exterior mirrors would be handy as well, and at only $480 why not? And maybe $220 for coloured Porsche crests on the wheel caps? Sure, why not be a bit frivolous every now and then. Or then again you can forgo all the options and go purist with a totally bone dry base model for a mere $94,785, including destination. Decisions, decisions.

The base 911 is hardly featureless, incidentally, with the standards list highlighted by colour touch-screen navigation, partially power-adjustable sport seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and automatic bi-xenon headlamps, not to mention the interior is beautifully crafted in the highest-grade materials this side of a Bentley, including a rich suede-like Alcantara headliner. What is noticeably missing and completely unavailable is proximity sensing access or pushbutton ignition. Why? Hard to contemplate why they've left such an obvious upgrade off the menu. They could put the button at the left of the steering column and I'm guessing even diehard traditionalists wouldn't complain.

One of the reasons I'm forever in love with the Porsche 911, other than a few generations that don't do as much for me, is their perfectly harmonized modern traditionalism. It's odd really, because I'm not a traditionalist per se. While I love Mozart and Beethoven I've always had a place for Stravinsky and Copland in my collection, let alone Philip Glass and Brian Eno; likewise for The Beatles and Bowie, or Bauhaus and Björk for that matter. Speaking of Bauhaus, my furniture tastes are more Mart Stam modern than Thomasville classic, and in architecture, more Frank Lloyd Wright or, paying homage to three favourite Vancouverite architects, Arthur Erickson, John Patkau and Bing Wing Thom, than any of the world's Peter Keatings. Somehow Porsche has managed to mix in just enough '73 901 and '93 993 with a dash of its previous generation 997 to culminate in the shockingly beautiful 2012 991. My example just happens to be a 2013 model, and other than the last of its four model year numerals having changed, the car remains identical to the one that shook up the sports car world last year.

It not only looks radical by 911 standards, with needle sharp LED running lights up front and similarly pointed "dagger" style LED tail lamps in back, but its interior leaps past prior 911s in form and function. A dramatic centre console doesn't stack like those of old, but slopes rearward with as much lean as its new windshield cants in the opposite direction to cheat the wind. It's noticeably devoid of its manual brake lever, something I must admit to missing after struggling to get the ridiculously sticky hill holder feature from bogging down the boxer to the point of stalling it twice while taking off from a steep hill. How embarrassing. At least the auto start/stop function immediately reboots it without driver input, taking some of the sting out of the process. Nevertheless, the engineers in Stuttgart need to address this issue if they want their stalwart Porschephile faithful to buy into such a dramatic departure from a handbrake that's always worked so perfectly well, and embrace something new and innovative like its electronic emergency brake and hill holder system, which proved to be nothing less than a ruddy pain in the arse.

My sour cussing quickly turned to joyful reverie as the inner city departed and road ahead opened wide to receive. The 911's new 3.4-litre six is a marvel. It loses 200 cubic centimeters, benefiting fuel economy, yet still manages to push out higher output than the old 2011 car. It's now up 5-horsepower to 350 and 1 lb-ft of torque for 288, whereas fuel economy dips to 11.0 city and 7.2 highway for the manual or 10.3 and 7.0 for the PDK automatic, an improvement over the old 3.6-litre car's 11.3 city and 7.9 highway rating with the manual or 11.1 and 7.3 for the automatic. Of course, hypermiling a 911 would be akin to counting calories at a chocolate festival. A bloody stupid waste of thought. Rather, I let my right foot do the thinking, keeping my mind free to find the ideal line around the curves ahead.

Mastering serpentine roadways is a 911's delight, the new model more adept at carving its way through ribbons of tarmac than any Carrera before it. Even sans Sport Chrono it's the master of complications, a grand illusionist that somehow manages to straighten the winding path of life with no drama at all. Yes, it might just be too good. Gone are the thrills of a need to overcome overzealous oversteer, at least if you keep Porsche Stability Management on. It's so brilliantly capable that even an image-seeking poseur could look like a hero behind the wheel. There's a switch to defeat it if you're up to the task, but please think before you act. Unless you've been trained by professionals on the track and, better yet, are actually on a track with lots of run-off area, leave PSM on and enjoy the absolute control it delivers. There are few worse feelings than losing a car's rear end in a corner, and PSM goes above and beyond to make sure this won't happen, even if you're driving like an ignorant sap. Yes, it's that good.

Rather, stretch yourself out in the larger more luxurious cabin, and crank up the tunes on Porsche's best infotainment system yet. After all, this is Porsche's best 911 yet. And while not completely without fault, I can look beyond its single irritation to embrace the whole of new 911 Carrera. It's without peer. Simply the best sports car on the planet.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Porsche, 2013, 911 Carrera, $75,000 - $99,999, $99,999+,

Organizations: Porsche

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