When a Chevrolet, Honda, or even a Mercedes Benz has a mid generation freshen-up, we notice it for a while, but the significance of it all soon fades. Like it or not, if the Porsche 911 changes so much as a gasket supplier, it seems we are bound by duty to go nuts and analyze the alteration, writing volumes, and unearthing intriguing surprises.
Porsche invented the dual-clutch application, first used in 1983 in the 956 Group C racer, then victoriously through the middle 1980s in the 962. It took until now to get it into the 911 street car, because the hydraulics of the system were not up to par for refined street use. The best possible news in adopting the PDK (Porsche Dual-clutch Gearbox) is the long-awaited passing of the 5-speed Tiptronic manu-matic from the Porsche options list.
We have never enjoyed the Tiptronic box, mostly on account of its lousy thumb-shifters on the steering wheel, but laso due to its lack of greater flexibility in how it allows to use the engine’s capabilities. Despite this, nearly 40% of 911 buyers worldwide have opted for Tiptronic shifting, and we pity their resale values once this PDK 7-speed hits the market. Besides the very easily understood central shift lever, there are two finger toggle switches on the lateral spokes of the 3-spoke PDK steering wheel. Both the sequential shifting capability for the console lever (move it to the left and that’s manual / sequential and finger toggles have downshifts happening towards the driver and upshifts away). This counters the situation on BMW Steptronic and SMG cars which have the console shifts going up with a pull and down with a push as on racing sequential boxes.
Frankly, I prefer the Porsche console since the most famous aggressive manual downshift for any sports car is from third towards us into second, and that’s a motion that I adore and cherish too. That’s why I appreciate Porsche’s staying with BMW on the push-pull scheme at the wheel. The 7-speed gearbox and its software (both engineered by ZF) are certifiable revelations. And there is now a hardcore launch control for Carrera or Carrera S models that come fully equipped as the Carrera White. I kept the new Sport Plus button at the base of the center console, kept my foot on the brake, hit full throttle to hold at 6500 rpm, and then just dropped the brake.
The launch at the power band’s 6500 rpm sweet spot was stunning, and the subsequent automatic shifts at 7200 rpm could definitely stun you if you are not firmly braced. In fact, the smack-up into 2nd and 3rd gears feel almost too hardcore versus the same shifts in a BMW M5 or Ferrari 430 Scuderia – and this is just the 385 hp Carrera S that I’m talking about. Air-to-fule compression ratio for either the 385-hp 3.8 l or 345-hp 3.6 l flat six “9A1” engine with direct injection goes from 11.3:1 (3.6l) and 11.8:1 (3.8l) to 12.5:1 for both. At the same time, fuel consumption and CO2 output drop nicely. With the Carrera cabriolet and its 3.6l fitted with the optional PDK transmission, e.g, fuel economy increases by as much as 13.2%, while CO2 in the exhaust comes down by 17.9%.
Not only is the outgoing Tiptronic old stuff compared to the PDK setup, but it consumes more fuel than the 6-speed manual, while PDK helps the engine use less fuel and run cleaner than it does with the manual. A good bit of this improvement, besides the marked efficiency gains through overall friction reductions between all moving parts, is due to a long and lanky 7th gear overdrive with a 0.62:1 ratio that had me cruising silently at 70 mph at just 2000 rpm. A nice touch on the new 911 is that I can now press the Sport Button without having to automatically engage the stiffer Porsche Active Suspension management setting. It was fabulous to feel the limits we’re normally too timid to explore. Through quick high-load elevation switches and changing-radius curves, the Carrera S simply ate the tortuous circuit alive; I was literally flinging the machine everywhere with just the right touch at all times.
I had deactivated Porsche Stability Management, as it was a warm and clear day, and much of the handling remained fabulously neutral; there was only a little bit of well-managed understeer in hard curves, while the subtle drifts out of those curves were like poetry in motion. With a nod to the hardworking beginner’s 911, Porsche now includes as standard kit on the 3.6 Carrera, the same 13-inch standard brake discs as on the Carrera S; and a rear wheel that is half an inch wider, now at 18.0×10.5 inches, though the tires remain the same dimensions.
I think you should opt for the Porsche Sport Exhaust wherever you are allowed to do so. On another note, the new direct-injection mills have a new poppier exhust idle at 650 rpm. This is typical of DI, and I am still not in love with it, though it is a minor threat to my love of the brand and the car. And the payoff in this new 911 is worth whatever it takes. North America will start getting its new Carrera and Carrera S models in September 08 after European deliveries begin in early July. Base pricing for the 2009 Carrera Coupe is $75,600, and the Carrera S Coupe will command $86,200. Here are a few basics for the 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera S:
Engine Flat-, 3.8l, 24v
Output 385hp / 310lb-ft
0-60 mph 4.1 sec
Top Speed 186 mph
Weight 3208 lbs