July 27, 2012
Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony
2012 Porsche 911
If you got a call offering you a chance to drive the new Porsche 911 on
Mosport, er, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, what would you do?
That’s right, you’d drop everything, strap on your driving shoes, and proceed to one of our most acclaimed Canadian racetracks, host to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, Trans Am Series, Canadian Touring Car Championship, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, and the former site of the Formula1 Canadian Grand Prix in various years between 1967 and 1977. It’s a world-class track, with more than a hint of danger, having claimed several lives and many cars in its storied history. There is no question that there are some scary, hairy corners for a novice like me.
2012 Porsche 911. Click image to enlarge
But this isn’t a history lesson, and I survived intact, without a scratch on the pristine if somewhat generic coloured Platinum Silver Metallic 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera. That’s right, a mythical near-base-model seven-speed-manual Porsche 911 with most of the options centred around performance. PASM sport suspension for $3,400, Porsche torque vectoring (PTV) at $1,510, Sport Seats Plus $920, 20-inch wheels $2,230, adding $8,020 to the $93,700 base price. That silver paint is an $820 option (delete), Bose surround sound system $1,820 (delete—save your money for gas and gratuitous downshifts on the highway to hear the flat-six make its signature slappy flat-six noises), front seat heating $790 (delete), $880 dynamic lighting (delete—unless you plan to run in 24-hour races…), plus a rather modest $1,085 destination charge and A/C tax bring the total to $107,545. Without those extraneous options, it would come in just under $103K for one of the best-engineered machines ever made available to the buying public.
Is it without its compromises? Of course not. As Greg Wilson points out in his Test Drive of the 911 Carrera S, it is difficult to get in and out of, and it is not the most comfortable daily driver. But I wasn’t driving it daily.
I was driving it on a racetrack, where it belongs. Unfortunately, there were quite a few laps during which I wasn’t sure if I belonged on a track, much less this track, but we got through that, and with the help of instructors Rick Bye (a former Porsche team racer and driving instructor) and David Empringham (currently racing a Porsche 911 in the Grand-Am Road Racing Sports Car Challenge and within a point of the lead in that series, and also a driving coach on the side), I eventually managed to turn a full lap on something approximating the racing line.
I suspect that in most any other car, I would have spent much of my time just trying to learn its limits, but with helpful coaching drilling me on the line, and timely commands, I eventually found my rhythm, and every inch of pockmarked asphalt and reinforced corners was transmitted through the chassis balance and laser-sharp steering, every angle of slip or point of grip seemingly fed directly into my brain. I don’t completely understand where the information was coming from, and was too much in the moment to contemplate the suspension tuning and triangulation of the multilink suspension and dampers, but it was there, like a revelation. And then they told me my track time was up. D’oh! Arrrgghh. I mean, seriously?