By David Colman
Hypes: Superb Dynamic Chassis, PDLS Headlights, Mega Pirellis
Gripes: Don’t Have One in My Garage Yet
Back in the sexist 1930s, Packard used the adage “Ask The Man Who Owns One” to seal the deal on the superiority of its brand. Since I currently own three Porsches 911s, you might want to ask me that same question about the company’s latest offspring, the 2013 911 Carrera S. In a nutshell, this newest addition to the model line is better in every way than any previous 911 Porsche has built. When I first learned about the specifications for this new model, internally designated “991,” my reaction to it was tepid. Logic seemed to dictate that the 991’s 4 inch longer wheelbase would make it more comfortable to ride in, but slower to react to steering input and directional change. And to a tutored eye accustomed to the svelte and chiseled 911 profile, the 991 looked bulbous and overweight. I couldn’t have been more wrong on all counts.
The extended wheelbase does indeed help eliminate the harsh ride quality of its immediate predecessor, the 997 version of the 911 that Porsche produced from 2005 to 2011. Although the ride quality of the 2013 Carrera S is more relaxed and luxuriant than that of the 997, it is even better snubbed and more informative than its choppy predecessor. And when it comes to ultimate handling, the 991’s wider front and rear track elevates this new model to a new echelon of stability never before achieved by any previous 911. Helping in this regard are several features exclusive to the “S” model Carrera, such as 20 inch diameter alloy wheels measuring 8.5 inches wide up front and 11 inches wide in the rear. Porsche has generously shod these standard S rims with Pirelli’s best rubber, P Zero Nero tires measuring 245/35R20 front and 295/30R20 rear. In addition, the S enjoys standard “torque vectoring” technology which subtly brakes the inside rear wheel on a turn to promote better traction for the outside rear wheel
The cumulative effect of these measures yields a 911 so confident in handling, so adept at directional change, that you could enter this stock coupe, as delivered, in any 24 Hour race and expect to finish well up in the overall standings. That’s because the new Carrera S has been sired by a long line of stellar race cars including the infamous 935, and more recently, the GT3 RSR version of the 997, which is still winning at the international level. The breeding line shows in every facet of the 991. Its informative 5 gauge cluster looks avionics correct when ordered in optional (no extra charge) “dials in black.” Its phenomenally effective Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) headlights not only blaze the night, but swivel to illuminate corners as you turn into them.
And speaking of corners, there must have been at least a thousand of them on the 43.2 mile drive through wine country I enjoyed, along with 23 other Porsches from the Porsche Club of America. With a starting point in Sonoma’s picturesque town square, this backroad adventure proved the mettle of this latest generation 911, not only to me, but to everyone else in the Porsche Club who witnessed its incredible agility. The 991, in S trim, guarantees you will rule the road.
To enjoy the new 911 Carrera S, you don’t need to extend its engine beyond 5,000 rpm. Because my test car had only 551 miles on the odometer when delivered to me (and appropriately, 991, when my week ended), I decided to do the right thing and break in the motor properly by observing a 5,000 rpm redline and not using full throttle. Amazingly, these self-imposed restrictions never materially impinged on the 911’s performance, because the new S engine has so much torque available so low in the rpm range that you never really need to boot it to redline to maximize forward progress. Even though this engine, when broken in, will comfortably scream to its 400 hp redline of 7, 400 rpm, it makes peak torque of 325 lb.-ft. at just 5,600 rpm. Keeping the revs down also helps achieve reasonable fuel consumption of 22 MPG overall.
If there’s a better sports car available than the new 911 Carrera S, than I’ve yet to drive it.
2013 Porsche Carrera 911S
- Engine: 3.8 liter opposed 6, Direct Fuel Injection, Variocam
- Horsepower: 400hp @ 7,400rpm
- Torque: 325 lb.-ft. @ 5,600rpm
- Fuel Consumption: 19 MPG City/ 27 MPG Highway
- Price as Tested: $107,830
- Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars