Saturday, November 19, 2011

1200 miles in a 911

I've had the 911 for about a month and put 1200 miles on it in that time. Rain or shine, I want to get all the use out of it before Wisconsin's winter arrives. How has everyday life been with the Porsche? In a word: fantastic. Really. It does just about everything really, really well.

I'm continually impressed how everyday-usable and comfortable the 911 is while still ripping off 150mph country road blasts and slithering roundabout exits. The physical size means I can't haul four adults and large cartons like I could in the M5, but it's far more special-feeling than the M-car. On paper the 911 looks a lot like a contemporary M3 but in reality driving the 911 is more of an occasion. It doesn't have the pins-and-needles celebrity vibe of the F355 but it's also easier to park, with more storage space, and scalpel-like in traffic. Until I get the car to Road America I can't make a final judgment on the performance but it doesn't quite measure up to the Ferrari. The handling isn't as sharp (but the ride is more forgiving), the motor is nowhere as razor-sharp, the noise is unique but nothing compared to the flat-plane V8 wail, and the styling isn't as head-turning. I do love the bassy, odd growl of the flat six. There is a qualitative difference between the 3.4 and 3.6 liter motors. I've read Porsche changed the exhaust on the MkII 3.6L cars to make them sound more like a 911. It worked. There's a boomy roar in the car and a nice bark with the windows down.

The steering on the 911, though, is something else. The overall handling of the Ferrari trumps the Porsche but the alive, always-changing feeling through the Porsche's steering wheel is 911ism that can't be matched. The light nose bobs and moves around, causing changes in grip and feedaback. The heavy rear moves around despite having huge 285mm rubber.

I was really nervous about the pendulous rear. After driving the car in 36 degree rain (my car isn't equipped with PSM) I can say that it's not as dangerous as the 911 lore suggests. Yes, the rear likes to wiggle but it's easily caught and even easily encouraged. I haven't resorted to putting a post-it reading "DON'T LIFT" on the windscreen but my need to for track days. It really is fun, feeling the nose rise then feel the rear step out, leaving your foot into it and steering through the slide.

Of course all the normal-car creature comforts work well. The stereo is pretty good, the the auto climate control is flawless, and the visibility is excellent. I'm a bit conflicted on the seats; there is plenty of space but the backs don't fit my tall built. My shoulder blades are always being rolled forward. I cringe at the thought of trying to procure different factory seats. The P-car tax is significant. Maybe trying out some GT3 seats is a good start.

I feel incredibly lucky to get to experience this amazing car. It's fantastic. It might me a Porsche guy out of me. We'll see.

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