Porsche Carrera 2s Road Test

Posted: November 8, 2010 in Motoring
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The 997 looks great from any angle - although from behind is how most people will spend their time viewing it!

Some cars seem to have been around forever.  The 911 certainly falls into that category, however with each passing generation of car,  Porsche has raised the bar and taken it closer towards perfection.  Just like the shark, evolution  of the 911 has generally been a slow process, and only minor adaptations have been needed to keep it top of the food chain.
The latest generation of the 911 is definitely the best yet though, and whilst evolution has left the shape relatively unchanged, there have been significant changes to the core DNA of this model.  Under the sleek exterior lies a whole new predator!

It’s true to say that beauty is only skin deep, and it is the engineering changes to this model are the real show stopper!

Direct fuel injection and various other changes have resulted in another 30 bhp over the previous version, plus there is the option of having the PDK twin clutch gearbox.  Are Porsche reaching the point where they’re tinkering too much, with what is aleady a great car?

From the outside the car looks as fantastic as ever, but he design team aren’t the department that have been going home with the overtime pay!  The front daylight LED running lights look great though, and are distinctive, despite the variety of LED’s appearing on all brands. The rear lights are now entirely LED too.   There are slightly larger wing mirrors to satisfy the USA market, but other than that changes are minimal.  The car we are testing is finished in black, and has the Aero kit kitted fitted, although I actually prefer the look of the Carrera S without this kit.  The classic clean lines run are enough for me with the 997.  That aside the 911 has always been about the driving experience, so with that in mind …. it’s door opening time.

Porsche have gone back to the original style headlights - and about time too in our opinion!

The interior on the 997 now feels more luxurious than previous 911 models.  The softer plastics for the dash feel more upmarket, and are more fitting with the price of the car.  A choice of seat options enables you to tailor the car to your specific needs too.  The vehicle we are driving has the optional sports seats which are comfortable, yet cosseting during hard cornering.  Not only that but they look great too, and my regular passenger assures me they were comfortable thorughout the days we had the car.  The driving position is excellent and the console is clear, bright and easy to check revs and speed with a quick glance.  The PCM (Porsche Communication Management system) has a 6.5” touch screen which is also clear and easy to read.  It does make the interior feel a little cluttered, but that said the gadgets are a welcome addition.  Our model was fitted with a multitude of options for connecting ipods, MP3 players, and slotting in your SIM card. All of this provides entertainment on the move and provides other toys for when you are not hanging the rear of the car out around those tight, twisty roads, which the car encourages you to do repeatedly!

The temptation to start the engine is still as strong as ever too, and  once you have the car in motion you will be immediately impressed.    A fast run down any twisty road instantly results in an ear to ear grin, as the handling and balance of the car reward you from apex to apex.  It can be placed perfectly in and out of every corner with relative ease.  There’s very little body roll and super fast direction changes are the order of the day.  This is even more so when the car is switched into sport mode, which sharpens up the dampers and the throttle response. It displays phenomenal agility which rewards great drivers and makes novices feel great (and safe) too.

The Porsche Stability Management system is impressive too and  allows the driver plenty of room to make their own driving decisions – before stepping in to correct mistakes. Put the car into Sport Mode, turn the PSM off, and you can then really enjoy driving the 997 on the limit.  With the system off the car is as lively as ever but gives the driver scope to really push the car well into its performance envelope .. which it has to be said is pretty deep.  In Sport Mode on some roads the car was a little twitchy but still composed enough.   On better quality roads sport mode kept the car feeling  precise, flat and responsive.  You could certainly track this car during the summer months and really enjoy the experience, before driving it home again.

The steering is precise but doesn’t have quite as much feel as some previous 911’s.    The steering feel is still way beyond the majority of the competition though, and with the engine and handling improvements it really isn’t an issue at all.

In terms of engine the Carrera 2S comes with a 3.8-litre 385 bhp unit.  Combinedwith the manual gearbox it puts in 0-60 mph times of 4.7s and a top speed of 188 mph.  Teamed with the seven speed PDK sequential-shift gearbox and launch control those 0-60mph times will drop.  On full chat the flat 6 engine sounds awesome, howling away in the background and literally sending tingling sensations down to your finger tips.  It is an essential part of the driving experience of this car and just makes driving the 997 a joy.  I’m not sure I bothered with the stereo that much whilst driving as the engine note was far superior to anything I’ve heard in the charts recently.

As part of our test drive we took the 997 out for a very early morning run across the North East.  Driving the car through the back roads of Northumberland you feel completely at ease with the car.    The pace, handling, balance, steering and … well most things … come together to make a truly outstanding package.  You can drive it as you like too – so pottering down to the shop isn’t an ordeal, yet it has enough in store to keep you entertained when you need some serious driving time.

It won’t scare you as much as some cars, but it will reward you more than most.  It is thrilling without being dangerous and Porsche have done some genius things with this particular model.
SUMMARY

 

There’s something special about this model.  The 997 is without doubt the best incarnation of the 911 yet, with it’s party piece still being the ability to switch direction at the flick of a wrist.  It is light, agile and very easy to drive … both with and without the driver aids switched on.  It has oodles of grip and there’s probably no real need for the 4wd version in Carrera S form.

The new engine is incredibly responsive, and combined with the 6 speed gear manual box, it just made for one harmonious driving machine.  The extra power is a good thing too, as some of the older models perhaps felt slightly underpowered.  At 385 bhp there’s enough power in a car of this size to continue to thrill you for some time to come.  Of course it doesn’t have the pace of the Turbo, and it isn’t as agile and adept as the GT3 either.  It won’t scare the living daylights out of you like a GT2 RS would, but it will be a highly usable, fast, and fun car to own.  Fuel economy has gone up too with the new engine, depreciation isn’t as bad as many of its competitors and the classic shape means its a car which won’t date as fast as some either.  The base model is £70,427 and at this price represents excellent value.  Driven sensibly it can return over 27 mpg combined – something most supercar owners can only fantasize about.

Almost anything can be customised on the car and the prices aren’t that steep either for the level of personalisation that you can achieve.  If you are in the market for a great sports car then you simply must go and test drive the 997 Carrera 2S.  It is in my humble opinion a future classic.

 

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