When it comes to an iconic sports car like the Porsche 911, change is usually measured in gradual increments. A millimeter here, a slight change to a curve there, update the technology and call it done. What Porsche can’t afford to do is alienate the brand loyalists who’ve purchased the 911, in all of its forms, over the past 48 years.
That’s why the 2012 Porsche 911 is such a big deal. To call it all-new-from-the-ground-up isn’t too much of a stretch, since the new 911 is longer, lower and wider than the car it replaces. Oddly enough, it reminds me of the new VW Beetle, which itself is also longer, lower and wider than the car it replaces.
Porsche hasn’t made these changes for style, and the new car should be faster around a track than the car it replaces. In base Carrera form, it now makes 350 horsepower, an improvement of five horsepower from last year’s model. Opt for the Carrera S, and you’ll get 400 horsepower from the 2012 model, as opposed to 385 from the 2011 variant. Both cars get better fuel economy, too, with the Carrera achieving up to 28 mpg in European testing and the Carrera S returning up to 26 mpg.
The horsepower gains aren’t that significant, but thanks to a weigh savings of nearly 100 pounds, the performance gains are. The fastest Carrera, a model equipped withe Porsche’s PDK gearbox and the Sport Chrono package, can rip off a zero to 60 time of 4.4 seconds, while a similarly equipped Carrera S can do it in 4.1 seconds. Compare that to the 4.5 second time time of last year’s 408-horsepower Carrera GTS, and you begin to see that Porsche has made some a pretty impressive improvements.
The 2012 Carrera and Carrera S will hit dealers in February of 2012. Look for the Carrera to start at $82,100, with the higher-performance Carrera S beginning at $96,400.