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Review and photos by Bob McHugh
As you might expect, the new sixth-generation Porsche 911 Carrera has more power, improved performance and new safety features. What I didn’t expect was how smooth, slick and driver-friendly this car has become, without losing the track-ready edginess that makes a 911 a 911.
It’s still propelled by the legendary flat six-cylinder (Boxer) engine in the rear. A re-tuned air intake accounts for a 10 hp boost, so the 3.6-litre now produces 325 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Porsche claims the new base 911 I test-drove can now dart from a standing start to 100 km/hr in 5.0 seconds flat.
If that’s not fast enough, there’s a Carrera S version of the new 911 coupe, with a 3.8-litre six that provides 355 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It also comes with a new variable-height suspension system, larger brakes (with red calipers), larger wheels, standard Xenon headlights and a silver-colour rear deck lid logo.
Cabriolet versions of the new body style are also coming later this year. However, the 911 Turbo retains the same body (for now) as last year and comes with a new “S” package, in either coupe or convertible body styles.
At first glance, the new body alterations do not appear to be significant, but I really liked the return to old-style oval headlights, the new mirrors and the easy-grip door handles. The overall shape is the same, but the ’05 has a wider track and a slimmer, more noticeable waistline. There’s also a slight increase in its overall length and height and it now rides on new-design standard 18-inch wheels.
Instead of an ugly fixed mount rear spoiler, a speed- or switch-activated rear spoiler automatically deploys at 120 km/hr for better vehicle stability at higher speeds. It then goes back into its hiding mode when the vehicle speed drops below 80 km/hr.
The most significant mechanical improvement, for me, is the new six-speed transmission. It’s the best manual shifter I’ve ever had the pleasure to use. New triple- and double-synchronizing steel rings on the lower gears allow smoother gear changes, and the shifter movement is shorter between gears. It’s so light and precise you can flick through the gears with a just thumb and index-finger movements.
The interior makeover is more than cosmetic, although the new brown leather upholstery is particularly attractive. Finally, the steering column has both tilt and telescope movement for maximum driver fit and comfort, and there’s a new electric steering wheel lock integrated into the car’s anti-theft immobilizer system.
An interesting new take on variable-ratio steering is now standard. The steering feel is the same and so is the ratio, as before, within 30 degrees of the wheel’s centered position. Move past that and the steering ratio becomes more direct; the lock-to-lock ratio has been reduced to 2.62 turns.
There’s also a new three-spoke steering wheel, IP gauge cluster, an improved climate control system and six standard airbags. A Bose surround sound audio system was a $1,950 option in the test car; it came with 13 speakers and a seven-channel digital amplifier.
Above the glove box, pop-out cup holders now hide behind a folding trim cover. When released, the left cup holder emerges and rests in front of the central air vent, while the right cup holder snuggles up to the passenger vent. This supposedly allows the cup to be heated or cooled.
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Storage space is limited but in addition to a larger glove box, there are pockets built into the door panel armrests and the centre console bin now automatically locks when the central locking system is activated. The forward luggage compartment is also larger and now offers 135 litres of storage capacity.
Safety features include two front and two seat-mounted side-impact airbags. In addition, the side impact protection system includes the world’s first head airbag to emerge from a side window sill.
Previously only available on the 911 Turbo, a ceramic composite disc brake option with a hefty $11,400 price tag can be ordered. The race-tested ceramic composite discs provide a higher and more consistent level of friction during use, and they weigh about 50 per cent less than metal discs.
Other than a single-button remote locking system (did I just lock or unlock the car?), it’s hard to pick fault with the driver-friendly make-over of the new Porsche 911 – a great sports car that just keeps getting better.
- Acura NSX: $142,000
- Cadillac XLR: $103,400
- Chevrolet Corvette: $67,395 – $79,495
- Dodge Viper: $127,000
- Jaguar XK: $96,350 – $117,350
- Mercedes-Benz SL: $131,300 – $259,950
Technical Data: 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe
|Options||$10,980 (Metallic paint $1,190; full leather seats $2,130; Bose High End sound package $1,950; Bi-Xenon self-levelling headlamp package $1,530; 3-spoke multifunction wheel $1,390; Active Suspension Management System $2,790)|
|Price as tested||$112,480|
|Type||2-door, 2+2 coupe|
|Engine||3.6-litre, horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder|
|Horsepower||325 @ 6800|
|Torque||273 lb-ft @ 4250|
|Tires||Front 235/40 ZR 18; rear 265/40 ZR 18|
|Wheelbase||2350 mm (92.5 in.)|
|Length||4461 mm (175.6 in.)|
|Width||1808 mm (71.1 in.)|
|Height||1310 mm (51.5 in.)|
|Front track||1486 mm (58.5 in.)|
|Rear track||1534 mm (60.3 in.)|
|Cargo capacity||135 litres (47.6 cu. ft.)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 12.8L/100km (22 mpg Imperial)|
|Hwy: 8.2L/100km (34 mpg Imperial)|
|Warranty||4 yrs/80,000 km|
|Powertrain Warranty||4 yrs/80,000 km|