- Breathtaking performance
- Classic good looks in a modern skin
- Comfortable, quiet interior
- Good fuel economy for the class
- Day-to-day practicality
- Electric power steering is not quite perfected
- Rear seat room still not great
The 2012 Porsche 911 is one of the best buys in the sports car market, and quite possibly the most practical, luxurious car at its performance level available.
The 2012 Porsche 911 marks the arrival of the seventh generation of Zuffenhausen's legendary sports car, and, in almost every way, it's the best. After 48 years of production, perhaps it should be, but improving an icon while retaining its essential character is a difficult task.
That's exactly what Porsche has done, however. The 2012 911 is very different in many respects--it's almost four inches longer in wheelbase, two inches wider in front track, and is lighter, leaner, and cleaner-looking than its predecessor--but at the same time, it's still imbued throughout with the essence of the 911. That essence includes the iconic shape, rear-engine mounting, tremendous performance, and luxurious comfort.
Balancing those aspects, many of them conflicting, is perhaps what the 911 does best; despite generating 350 horsepower in Carrera trim and 400 horsepower in Carrera S guise, the new 911 manages to be more fuel efficient than the last. It does this in base form with a new 3.4-liter direct-injection engine that revs readily and delivers its power higher in the rpm band. Paired with either a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission or a world-first seven-speed manual gearbox, the standard 2012 Carrera is a serious sports car in its own right.
In Carrera S trim the same transmissions are available, but they're put to even better use with power from a 3.8-liter engine. Both models are also available with a Sport Chrono package that adds launch control on PDK-equipped models, shaving two tenths of a second from the already impressive 0-60 mph times, which register at 4.4 seconds for the Carrera and 4.1 seconds for the Carrera S.
Inside, the 2012 911 is a benchmark of fit, finish, and material selection, finding a way to pair modern style with the necessary comfort and convenience demanded by today's buyer. The only quibble to be found is in the grudging concession toward American tastes--the collapsible cup holders. While they're sturdy and secure enough for a 12-ounce can or a 20-ounce bottle, there'll be no Big Gulping in the 2012 911--not that there should be.
The rear seats, as seat-like as they appear to be, are best left to very small children, as even moderate-height adults up front will reduce rear leg room to near zero.
There's even a considerable amount of cargo room for a sports car of any stripe, let alone one with this much performance. The front cargo area will easily hold enough gear for a weekend's getaway for two, and possibly more. A week might be possible if the back seat is put to its most likely use as a secondary cargo space. But most importantly, there's room for just about anything you're likely to need during an average day, including shopping trips. It's a very practical sports car.
And when it comes to practicality, safety is at the top of many lists. While the 2012 Porsche 911 hasn't yet been rated by the NHTSA or IIHS, it is equipped with a wide array of safety equipment, including a full complement of airbags, traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, and Porsche's proprietary Torque Vectoring Control and Dynamic Chassis Control.