photos courtesy Porsche
March 5, 2007
Oscar Wilde waxed eloquently about simple pleasures, calling them “the last refuge of the complex.” While it’s difficult to guess what the literary genius would make of the motor car – old Oscar slipped his mortal coil in 1900 – it is safe to say the Irish playwright would marvel at the complexity of the 2007 Porsche 911 Carrera and equally delight in its simple pleasure.
With a bare-bones basic Carrera tipping the monetary scales at a gaudy $100,700, Wilde’s late-Victorian hedonistic sensibilities would revel in this truly rare, expensive and simple pleasure.
How rare? Porsche sold 193 Carrera Coupes across Canada in 2005 and 2006. And those were record-breaking years, driven largely by 911 sales.
How expensive? As mentioned, the 2007 base 911 cracks the $100K mark, but throw in some goodies like an aerokit ($9,790), ceramic composite brakes ($11,400), Tiptronic transmission ($4,790) and a BOSE stereo system ($1,950) and this 2+2 can set you back, with taxes, north of $150,000.
For my own personal tastes in 911s, the more basic, the better. An aerokit? Unless you plan to be drafting on the commute home, kind of pointless. Ceramic brakes? I recently sold my near-mint 1971 911T for $400 less than these cost. Tiptronic? Great for F1 hot shoes, but I’ll take a manual six-speed with a manual clutch any day – the motoring gods gave us a left foot for a reason, you know. And a high-end stereo? In a Porsche? Could I interest you in a Cayenne? A 911 without a Porsche engine sound is an automotive abomination. Neither speakers nor song can rival the made-in-Stuttgart symphony that is a Porsche boxer engine at full throttle.
For those who find such a philosophy wrongheaded, there’s always those ‘other’ 911s — the Carrera S, Carrera S Cabriolet, Carrera 4, Carrera 4 Cabriolet, Carrera 4S, 4S Cabriolet, Targa 4, Targa 4S, Turbo and last but certainly not least, the GT3.
Actually, those aren’t 911s at all, nor is the 2007 Carrera. They’re 997s, the current designation in the long and legendary 911 lineage. The 997 version replaced the 996 in 2005, a model that caused an uproar amongst prickly Porsche-philes with its debut in 1998. The 996 featured a water-cooled engine, asphyxiating forever Porsche’s air-cooled tradition and with it a piece of motoring history. (Part of the blame/credit lies with the ever-tightening California emission laws).
So, the new 911 is in fact a 997. Rest assured though, that’s the only confusing thing about the 2007 Carrera. And after enjoying one for a week, rest is what I needed. It seemed every waking moment, at least those ones that weren’t filled with work and parent duties when I wasn’t at the sport wheel of my test Carrera, it served as a temptress, it’s oh-so-subtle fender bulges, wide and aggressive stance and perfectly proportioned body calling out to me from the driveway.
Still, in the name of getting it right, I soldiered on. I am, after all, a professional. I quickly discovered that you don’t need be a professional race car driver to drive the 2007 Carrera, something that can’t be said for many exotic sports cars. Crisp steering, rock-solid braking, a short-throw gearshift and firm-yet-subtle clutch pressure combine to make for an amazingly simple and effortless driving experience.
Of course, push the accelerator a little harder, drop the clutch a little quicker and shift closer to the redline, and that staid and stable personality morphs into a track-ready monster. (Consider these performance specs: zero to 100 km-h in 4.8 seconds; top speed of 285 km-h (177 mph)).
The 2007 Carrera is part bumper-to-bumper commuter car, part S-curve-gobbling superstar. That really has always been the charm and essence of the 911, beginning with its now-famous debut at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show.
For 2007, the Carrera gets a slight makeover, with new standard features such as leather seating surfaces and tire-pressure monitoring technology. The optional navigation system has been expanded to include maps of Mexico and Puerto Rico as well as the rest of North America. There’s also a new exterior paint colour – Meteor Grey Metallic – in addition to optional 19-inch wheel designs.
As mentioned, the current Carrera is the sixth-generation 911 and based largely on the new 911 model launched in 2005. It’s almost one-and-a-half inches wider than its predecessor though with a slimmer waistline. Designers accomplished this by widening the track (the width of the car’s contact with the pavement) by 1.2 inches in the front and 1.3 inches in the rear. In laymen’s terms, this means even more stability and control than the previous generation, something that seems impossible given the performance and handling of the fifth-generation model. Another welcome exterior change from the 996 is the return to somewhat blunter front headlights, long a traditional design component in the 911 family. And for the first time in its four-decade existence, the Carrera runs on standard 18-inch wheels, eight inches wide in the front and 10 in the back (the Carrera S comes with meaty 19-inchers, eight inches up front and 11 in the rear).
The optional ceramic brakes weigh a full 50 per cent less than the standard metal discs, and before 2005 were previously only available on special Porsche models such as the 911 Turbo.
Another major advancement is the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management, a system that can raise or lower the Carrera by .39 inches. That may not seem like much but believe me when the Sport Mode is activated and the already low car sinks a little lower, the agility and control of the machine is extremely pronounced.
Powering the Carrera is a 325-horsepower 3.6-litre horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine — an increase of 10 ponies over the 996 engine — and its working relationship with the new gearbox and clutch are pure poetry.
In summing up the 2007 Carrera, let’s return to the sharp mind of the poet Wilde, who observed, “I can resist anything but temptation”. If Oscar walked and wisecracked amongst us today, I’m guessing he couldn’t resist the temptation that is the 2007 Porsche Carrera. A truly simple pleasure if ever there was one.
At a glance: 2007 Porsche 911 Carrera
Base price: $100,700
Options: $ 12,060
Cobalt Blue Metallic paint $960
Stone Grey floor mats $160
Bi-Xenon headlamp package $1,530
Self-dimming mirrors $540
Heated front seats $680
Wheel caps with crest $260
Porsche Active Suspension Management $2,790
Extended navigation module $3,190
Bose high-end sound package $1,950
Destination charge $ 1,950
Prices as tested: $114,710
Manufacturer’s web site