2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S new car reviews

The shape is familiar, but for 2012 the Porsche 911 is new.
Even from the back, it's still a 911.
Buyers can totally customize their Porsche; here's the window sticker for our test car.
Our Carrera S came with dubs.
The GT Silver Metallic paint and red leather interior gave the car a slightly retro vibe.
Another 911 hallmark—that five-gauge layout—still remains.
Engine access, though, is best left from below—or to the dealer.
As always, the trunk's in the front.

Better than: most mortal cars
But not as good as: a magic carpet
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 55.68

A new epoch has arrived as Porsche has released the next generation of their iconic 911—the new chassis number is 991. For the 2012 model year, the 911 gets a lower, wider stance along with a longer wheelbase. Purists, however, have no need to worry: The rear-mounted flat-six engine remains. Horsepower and fuel economy are both up.

The 911 has always allowed buyers to choose from a staggering list of options, and that tradition continues. Our Carrera S test car, for example, had enough extras to boost the price from its $96,400 base to $130,140. Don't want to spend that much? One staffer built a pretty sweet Carrera for $88,000 and change. That still broke his budget, but it shows that a new 911 doesn't have to top six figures.

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Other staff views

Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar

Its leather interior was—ugh—bordello red leather. Its textures were fantastic, fit and finish was superb, but man, that color just jabs you in the eye. Pick a different interior—and an exterior color that's not Accord gray—and this car is a hands-down winner.
Behind the wheel, everything is razor-sharp responsive. In most cars, there's always something you could think of to do differently. Maybe the shifts aren't as snappy, or they're a bit too harsh; or the audio controls are impossible, the exhaust too muted, or something's just not quite right.
That's not the case in this car. It does everything—I mean, really, everything—absolutely right. We've had cars pass through that cost twice as much as this but don't feel this good. It's top shelf.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

First off, yes, I realize this is a six-figure car. I'm not going to make any excuses for that. The Porsche 911 has always carried a premium price, and like a friend once noted, you never see Porsche holding an end-of-the-season sale.
To be honest, I really didn't want to like this car. The photos I saw of the Panamera-inspired center console didn't thrill me. Where had the roots of my air-cooled Porsche gone?
Then I sat in the thing. Crap. The ergonomics were perfect. There's tons of visibility in all directions. A 370Z this is not.
Surely that latest, emissions-friendly engine won't sound so cool, right? Crap. It sounds pretty tough, especially when you hit the little exhaust button.
Upon pulling out from our parking lot, someone out for a walk gave me a wave. Then a passing motorist did the same thing.
And a few seconds later, I fell in love with the thing.
The latest 911 does everything expected of the marque. It offers tremendous performance, excellent driver ergonomics, perfect seats, an airy cockpit and just enough comfort. Oh, and it looks purposeful.
I built my own later that evening: a Carrera with Sport suspension and not much else. I even used the free colors available: black paint with a blue interior. Total bill was a little less than $89,000.
Yes, I realize that it's possible to go faster for less, but following that logic we should all be driving sport bikes. When I win the lottery, I will find myself at the local Porsche dealer.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard

For the first ten minutes I drove this car, I didn't really like it. it is rather small, cramped and feels so unlike any other car on the road. During the second ten minutes, I really started to explore the limits, understand its capabilities, and started to “get it.”
After half an hour, I refused to give the keys back.
Yeah, it's expensive. Yeah, the options are offensively expensive, but oh my f***ing god this is an amazing car. Brakes that will literally strip the skin from your body. And exhaust snarl that will make you forget sex and a chassis that is only exceeded in its capability, by its complete civility during your daily commute.
Yes, sign me up for the new 911 Carrera S. I might even pop for the $4440 leather interior. It was that nice.

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard
General Manager

I didn't want to like this car, in the same way I make it a point not to make eye contact with over-groomed men who think checking me out will help with their midlife crises. It's just so clichéd: six-figure price, Porsche badge, and a paint job that's a several-thousand-dollar option because... I can't for the life of me figure out why, actually. It's silver. Ish.
Then I drove it, and I understood why superheroes wear the stupid, flashy outfits: Because it's fun to be noticed while you're being awesome. And this car makes you feel like YOU are the awesome thing, even though it's doing all the work. Its track-ready performance is seamlessly, smoothly, creamily accessible any time with none of the usual tradeoffs. It's like having a midlife crisis without the paunch or bald spot, just the fabulous credit score. Bring it on.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard
Director of Marketing & Digital Assets

I walked out of my house and this was sitting in the driveway. "Huh," I thought, "Dad must have finally realized he's middle-aged." So, I turned around, walked back into the house, and found my dad. But, before I could even start my well-memorized list of jokes that revolve around the theme of "you're old and that car is shiny," he tossed me the keys and told me to get in.

I wanted to hate this car. I wanted it to be terrible. I wanted it to prove that a $5,000 E30 BMW really is the perfect car.

As we were driving out of our neighborhood, I made a point to pick on it as much as possible. "The clock is lame. The wing looks weird. The leather makes my eyes hurt." Then, we arrived at a curvy back road.

Wow, this car is good! It's a true driver's car; it feels like an E30 with more of everything. More power. More handling. More brakes. More leather. I actually played a game where I tried to find a surface inside the car that wasn't leather. I lost. Everything about it is simply amazing. And, once you're done enjoying twisting back roads, you can hit a few buttons and this car turns into a comfortable daily driver. This car is so good it'll cause a surge in lottery ticket purchases, because everybody wants one. Including me, the BMW fanatic that hates expensive cars.

Overall, this car feels like it was made of pure titanium mined from the Nürburgring infield by unicorns. Then wrapped in bacon.

J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

Stupid overgrown volkswagen. Stupid overgrown awesome does-everything-you-tell-it Volkswagen. Stupid overgrown knife-edge handling that still retains an alarming degree of suppleness over bumps and somehow communicates every pore, pebble, crown and crack in the road through not only the steering wheel, but the seat and the entire chassis, but is somehow never harsh or edgy Volkswagen. Stupid overgrown Volkswagen with a structure that feels as though it were forged from a solid chunk of iron that fell from space on a comet by the massive hammer of an ancient Titan from outside of time. Stupid overgrown Volkswagen that perfectly evokes the history and heritage of the design, which now goes back nearly half a century, yet somehow manages to look as fresh as anything else rolling off any assembly line anywhere in the world.

I have to hate this car. I can't afford one, and I won't get to drive one very often since they're not on heavy rotation in the press fleet. So, ultimately, I face the choice of the dismissal of near perfection, or a life of unrequited love.

Stupid overgrown Volkswagen.

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