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Review: Porsche 911 Carrera S

Driven February 2013

Review: Porsche 911 Carrera S

The timeless lines on the Carrera S have exuded the same sense of purpose for decades, and you can spend many happy evenings letting your eyes follow those lines over and over again. And if you like big butts, it doesn’t get better than the 911’s squatting haunches. However, it’s only when you swivel yourself into the driver’s seat that the sense of purpose truly grips you – quite literally.

The 911’s seat holds us in a sporty embrace, an omen of the speed to come. Wide-eyed, we take in more of the cabin that we’ve been occupying for an hour or so and once again notice the meters – the same fonts and design from when we used to play NFS 5: Porsche Unleashed! Can’t help but smile when we see that.

And that smile becomes a wide grin when we gawk at the various go-faster buttons that unleash all of the 911’s madness. There’s a ‘Sport+’ button to inject the final bit of steroids to the 911’s performance, a button to firm up the suspension and a button with a pair of exhaust pipes painted on it. This makes the car louder and should be mandatory on all cars. Please. What a noise this thing makes.

For all the time that we’re parked in the 911, that button stays on, the throttle pedal keeps getting stomped on and the downshift-gear paddle keeps getting flicked to feed our greedy ears. And during all of this, another amazing thing happens. Cruising at well over the speed limit, with the 911 as serene as it can be, we notice the engine suddenly sounds as if it bolted a turbo onto itself. Just as we’re about to panic, we notice it’s Parag’s snoring that’s making the whistling noise and we marvel at the fact that anyone can fall asleep in such a car. It’s a testament to the car’s comfort and everyday nature, but the 911 takes this as a personal insult. As it should, too. And then another amazing thing happens.

We  prod the 911 into Sport+ mode, which makes everything about the 911 even more instantaneous. Four flicks down the ‘box and a mighty kick to the throttle pedal are enough to ensure that Parag is wide awake and holding on for dear life, his eyes wider than we’ve ever seen them.

The 911’s 3,800cc six-cylinder boxer makes a nicely rounded 400bhp and 440Nm of sleep-shattering power. These numbers travel through a seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (better known as PDK) automatic gearbox to those 19-inch rear wheels, transporting the 911 from 0 to 100kph in a claimed 4.1 seconds and from 0 to 160kph in 8.7 seconds, both in Sport+ modes. Entertaining, to say the least. And that brings us to something that impressed us the most – Launch Control.

In Sport+ mode, stand on the brake and throttle pedal to activate Launch Control, let go of the brake and have your jaw dropped at the feeling of the 911 squatting on its shapely haunches, executing a magnificent launch without any hint of wheelspin or drop in power, and relentlessly pursue the end of the road. That PDK ’box shifts gears better than we ever will, so we’re content to use only the downshift paddle, only to make the 911 sing louder.

We’re repeating on purpose here – it’s simply magnificent. If you ever launch it in front of an audience, they will no doubt think you’re a driving legend. We launched the 911 numerous times at the horizon and each time, we were more impressed than the last. Only the driver will know it’s the 911 that’s the legend.

The only thing we never got to experience is the 911’s legendary handling. The blame for this falls squarely on the six-lane shoulders of the Yamuna Expressway. As featureless as a blank canvas, this stretch of highway is what we’d imagine solitary confinement to be. So, when on the way back we come upon one corner at the very end of the Expressway, the 911 charges at it like a crazed shark, reeling in the leading Cayenne GTS like hopeless prey at an almost comical rate of speed.

One corner isn’t enough to write about, unfortunately. I experience nothing of the loss of steering feel that purists have been going on about since this new 911’s launch. Only the massive grip that it generates in the corner that comes and goes before I know it.  

Later, more experienced journos inform me that the older 911s did have killer steering feel – which is to say you were more likely to kill yourself at those wheels. The newer one retains a bit of that feel – which is the sum of more than just the steering, I’m sure – but puts you in control. For sure, if this thing plants itself into the scenery, it’ll be because the driver was stupid. In fact, that’s the only stupid thing likely to be in the 911.

The words ‘Porsche’ and ‘German engineering’ are pretty much synonymous. You can never forget the feeling that this car is engineered inside and out. It is engineered to impress the living daylights out of its driver. It is engineered to deliver shattering performance. It is engineered for sheer precision. And this is apparent even when you’re crawling over a speedbreaker, with your own backside a couple of inches in the air in the futile hope that this will raise the car a bit.

Machines are meant to evoke passion. And even on a road that embodies boredom, the 911 shows what it’s made of – mad speed achieved through passionate engineering. Now that’s amazing.

The numbers
6cyl, 3800cc, petrol, 400bhp, 440Nm, 7A, RWD, 1490kg, 0-100kph - 4.1sec, 302kph, Rs 1.34 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi)

The verdict
A mind-boggling mix of drop-dead gorgeousness, awesome performance and useability. Cliched everyday supercar? Look no further.

Kartik Ware

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