2012 Porsche 911: First Look

  • Competes with: Nissan GT-R, Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Ferrari 458 Italia
  • Looks like: The 911 will keep its timeless look
  • Drivetrain: 350-hp, 3.4-liter flat-six engine or 400-hp, 3.8-liter flat six; seven-speed manual transmission or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • Hits dealerships: February 2012

It may not look like it, but the 2012 Porsche 911 is totally new, including a new chassis, body, interior and more fuel-efficient powertrains.

We would say the appearance is updated, too, but only a die-hard Porsche enthusiast would tell the difference between the 2012 model and its predecessor. The biggest give-away is the rear end — featuring flatter vertical taillamps — that gives the new 911 a bit of an Aston Martin feel. The car looks more mature, mostly because the increased front track broadens the front-end face by pushing out the wheel arches, and the side mirrors are pushed farther back on the doors rather than on the A-pillars. Overall, this 911 looks less bug-eyed than the 2011 model.

Speaking of the increased front track, other chassis refinements include a big increase in the 911’s wheelbase, which is 3.9 inches longer, and the overall height is lower. Both are good indicators that the 911 will handle better at high speeds and in turns. The 2012 911’s body is about 100 pounds lighter than its predecessor. The model is now 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 2011. There’s also a new rear axle and electromechanical power steering. Porsche says all this fine tuning has reduced front and rear lift to near zero.

Powering this more lightweight 911 is a pair of new horizontally opposed flat-six-cylinder engines. 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 2011 model. 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 tenth of a second faster than 2011 equivalent), while the 3.8-liter Carrera S can do it in 4.3 seconds (0.2 seconds faster).

Both powertrains get new auto start/stop engine systems, thermal management and electrical recuperation systems that help increase fuel economy by 16% over the 2011 model.  Porsche says the 3.4-liter powertrain with the automatic transmission should get 34 mpg. The current base powertrain gets 19/27 mpg city/highway.

More expensive materials and high-tech powertrains mean the 911 will get even more out of reach for the average car shopper when the model hits dealerships this February. The base Carrera will start at $82,100 (up $4,300) while the Carrera S will start at $96,400 (up $5,900), excluding destination fees.

Check out more detailed photos below:

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