Porsche redesigned the 911 coupe and convertible for 2012. Typical of the brand, the visual changes are evolutionary, but the interior adopts themes from the Panamera hatchback and redesigned Cayenne SUV. Myriad trims for the 911 range from the rear-drive Carrera and all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 to the soft-top Cabriolet.
Note that the outgoing 911 — the "997" generation, by Porsche designation — still carries over as a 2012 model. Its follow-up, the "991" 911, is also a 2012. What's more, the 991 redesign affects just the 911 coupe and convertible; the other versions will be redesigned to 991 spec in 2013 and beyond.
Porsche enthusiasts will tell the difference between the 991 and the 997 up front; most others will confuse the two. The biggest giveaway is the rear end, which has flatter taillamps and adds 911 alongside the trim — "911 Carrera," for example — in Porsche's signature script. An increased front track broadens the front end by pushing out the wheel arches, and the side mirrors are pushed farther back on the doors rather than on the A-pillars.
Other chassis refinements include a big increase in the 911's wheelbase, which is 3.9 inches longer. Overall height is lower, too. The new body is about 100 pounds lighter than its predecessor, Porsche says, and it's composed entirely of a lightweight aluminum-steel composite. At high speeds, a variably extending rear spoiler will deploy; it's larger than the spoiler on the 997 generation. There's also a new rear axle and electromechanical power steering. Porsche says all this fine tuning has reduced front and rear lift to virtually zero.
Porsche says the 911 convertible's soft-top preserves the coupe's roofline, something convertibles often sacrifice.
Inside, the 911 gets similar center controls to Porsche's Panamera and Cayenne, but the dashboard still has a shelf-like contour — a longstanding characteristic of Porsche interiors. A tiny backseat perches behind front buckets, which are separated by center console that slopes more gradually toward the dash.
Like before, the new 911 can come lavishly appointed, with leather-wrapped dash and door panels, heated and cooled seats and more.
Under the Hood
A pair of new horizontally opposed flat-six-cylinder engines power the rear-drive 911. The base Carrera gets a 350-horsepower, 3.4-liter boxer engine mated to a first-of-its-kind seven-speed manual transmission. There's also an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that was available on the 997. The Carrera S gets a 400-hp, 3.8-liter boxer engine with the same transmission options. With the automatic transmission, the 3.4-liter can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds (about a 10th of a second faster than the 3.6-liter 997 equivalent), while the 3.8-liter Carrera S can do it in 4.3 seconds (0.2 second faster).
Both powertrains get new auto start/stop engine systems, thermal management and electrical recuperation systems that help increase gas mileage by 16 percent over the 2011 model.
Safety features include antilock brakes, side airbags and an electronic stability system.
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