The Porsche 911
has been a favorite among sports car enthusiasts since the first 911 rolled off the assembly line in 1964. Now, over 750,000 production models later, what once was sui generis has now become the benchmark of what a sports car should be, mixing topnotch refinement with near-unbeatable performance all wrapped up in a classic two-plus-two package. While Porsche doesn’t make revolutionary yearly changes in the 911 – mostly evolutionary – the team from Stuttgart debuts an all-new for 2009 flat-six engine, equipped for the first time with direct fuel injection for more power with better fuel economy and emissions. What really separates the new 911 is the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, or PDK for short. The PDK is a marvel of engineering and is basically two manual gearboxes in one automatically shifting package. The PDK is able to deliver quicker shifts through the gears while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption versus the outgoing model. This new racing-inspired gearbox, in our opinion, spells the death kneel to the traditional manual transmission. Clearly, this evolution is a revolution from Porsche.
What's to Like
While we can’t say enough about the PDK gearbox in the 2009 Porsche 911, there’s plenty more to like about the car. Porsche outfitted the coupe with larger brakes, which help to build confidence coming hot into corners. The new cream color is a beauty. We also like the fact that Porsche is offering a real navigation with XM NavTraffic and iPod integration this time around. Did we mention the ride?
What's Not to Like
The 911’s blend of luxury and performance doesn’t come on the cheap, so if you’ve got your heart set on a 2009, have your checkbook at the ready, as every option is going to cost you dearly, to the chagrin of quite a few of us. While the 911 is comfortable enough for a day trip, the luggage and storage space is limited, as is the tiny backseat.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
The 911 comes in two models, a 345 horsepower Carrera and a 385 horsepower Carrera S. Both models feature a rear engine flat-six with direct injection. The 911 – in spite of its 3,100 lb curb weight – barrels down the road in a quick hurry. The power isn’t as brutal as with other sports cars out there, thanks largely to the smooth six-cylinder engine. If you were reared on a manual transmission, the new PDK transmission may take some getting used to, but once you become accustomed to the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters it becomes clear just how much faster Porsche’s new gearbox is than the previous “Tiptronic S” automatic. Shifts are pared down to the milliseconds and with the optional, but highly recommend, Sport Chrono Plus package with its Sport and Sport Plus modes, the engine mapping and shift changes become much more aggressive. While one may not need this feature in rush hour traffic, there is always the weekend to enjoy the ride. Porsche’s years of racing experience bleed through to the 911 in almost every detail, from the finesse-laced suspension and the stout braking system, the 911 offers up a ride driven to exceed even the highest expectations.
Engine and Drivetrain
Porsche has managed to pull some magic out of its hat with their newly redesigned engines. With 345 horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque in the 3.6-liter Carrera and 385 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque in the 3.8-liter Carrera S, Porsches’ new mills offer more power and torque over previous generations while getting better fuel economy and a coveted LEV-II emissions rating. The company claims that it is thanks to a slew of new innovations, including a first time ever Direct Fuel Injection (DFI) system. The seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission manages to cut half of a second off of the 2008 model’s 0-60 time, too, with 4.7 second and 4.5 second times for the Carrera and S models respectively.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
If you can dream up the option, Porsche has it – all at a price that is. For 2009, the Porsche 911 comes standard with LED daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlights, optional are $690 Dynamic Cornering headlights. We also like the $800 ventilated seats that work in conjunction with the heating system to rush either warm or cool air to occupants. If you’re looking for a little more speed out of your 911, opt for the $960 Sports Chrono Plus package and $4,080 PDK that continuously adjusts shift points to fit a driver’s personal style. Don’t forget the $540 colored seat belts, too!
Key Technology Evaluation
For 2009, Porsche debuts a completely new version of their Porsche Communication Management system, or PCM 3.0. The new model serves up a 6.5-inch color screen and is now controlled via touch screen. The system incorporates an impressive 40 gig hard drive to store music, which can be accessed via voice command. Hands-free calling via Bluetooth connectivity and an iPod interface are also options as is XM NavTraffic. Technologically speaking, we feel as though the new 911 takes a large leap into the 21st Century, as the tech under the hood is finally matched by the goodies inside the cabin.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Despite this car’s boost in power, fuel consumption is kept remarkably low, thanks partially to the seven-speed PDK transmission. The 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S manage 18/25 mpg with the manual and 19/27 mpg with the PDK. Any sports car with that much horsepower shouldn’t be able to get that kind of mileage, but Porsche’s engineering focus has helped it to overcome some major environmental hurdles.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
Porsche doesn’t fail to serve up everything we hope for in a German sports car. The seating is supportive without being stiff, the steering wheel feels as if it were molded to your palms and the dash is clean and well put together. In short, the 911’s cabin is somewhere you want to spend all your spare time and then, perhaps, a few nights a week too.
Designers have to walk a fine line when working on the next generation of the 911. Porsche offers a new take on an old favorite while not doing away with the classic lines that make this car, and the ones that came before it, an iconic beauty. To that end, they’ve succeeded. The car has an updated appeal while still being instantly recognizable as a 911.
Market Segment and Pricing
The 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera comes with a price tag of $75,600 and $86,200 for the Carrera S, but expect those options to add and add, and then add some more to the price tag. The base prices put the 911s on the par with other high-end sports cars like Chevrolet’s Corvette Z06
at $74,775, the Nissan GT-R
at $76,840 and the Ford Mustang GT500KR
at $79,995. Still, the level of refinement and performance the 911 delivers is difficult to match for the money. While some competitors may be able to deliver more power, they sacrifice handling, agility and daily livability – things that are all-important whether you’re on track or enjoying a weekend drive.
What We Think
We rarely see a vehicle progress as much in a single generation as the 2009 Porsche 911 has. The combination of an all-new and more powerful engine, miraculous and groundbreaking transmission and those classic 911 looks make for a car that’s worth envying. There’s a reason Porsche buyers become lifetime owners. The level of design and engineering is difficult to surpass. Though the price tag may keep the car from being in every driveway in America, there is a reason that kids across the globe dream of owning one when they make it. A good reason.