2012 Porsche 911
2012 Porsche 911. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2012 Porsche 911

Santa Barbara, California – The Porsche 911 has been described in many ways over the years, usually with superlatives lauding the model’s engineering and performance. Less often is the 911 referred to as a beautiful car, an adjective typically reserved for Jaguar and Ferrari, to name the two most obvious.

It’s easy to explain. Everyone knows that engineers focus on problems of function, durability and performance first (quite rightly, many would add). Style and design, therefore, play catch-up to the mechanics, electrics, and lately the electronics of a vehicle. Does it work? Does it last? Does it excel? These are the priorities of good engineering.

However, since its introduction in 1963, the Porsche 911 has evolved generation-through-generation both in engineering and in the refinement of its design. The same basic shape and concept prevail, but over time this vehicle has become a unique expression of continuity and change. Perhaps surprisingly, while raising the engineering bar, an aesthetic has also evolved.

2012 Porsche 911
2012 Porsche 911. Click image to enlarge

The result is an all-new 2012 Porsche 911 that is, in my view, a beautiful car.

Don’t worry, Porschephiles; that doesn’t mean the 911’s gone all effete and delicate. On the contrary, this car seems to embody power in its very lines. The aerodynamic shape is smooth and sensual, but every inch is a promise of speed and extreme performance. This car is a beautiful bruiser.

The new 911 (designated 991, following the outgoing 997) comes by its sleeker lines honestly, with a wheelbase lengthened by 100 millimetres, overall length increased by 56 mm, a roofline lowered by 10 mm and the front track widened by 50 mm. Mathias Kulla, the chief designer, has artfully stretched the sheetmetal over these dimensions in a way that the car looks both composed and impatient when parked.

2012 Porsche 911
2012 Porsche 911. Click image to enlarge

The standard wheels are also up in size — to 19-inches for the Carrera and Carrera S, with 20-inch optional — and in a nod to past 911s, the rearview mirrors have returned to their rightful place on the shoulder of the doors. At the rear, super-narrow lights, an adaptive spoiler and the quad exhaust relegate more mundane conveyances to an eternal slow lane as the 911 confidently blows by.

The interior is also fully redesigned (actually, 95 per cent of the 2012 Porsche 911 is all-new), featuring a new look to the dashboard and interior panels, and a variation of the upward rising centre console first seen in the Porsche Panamera.

The beauty is not just skin-deep. The last generation Carrera’s 3.6-litre flat-six engine is down to 3.4 litres for the 2012 Carrera, but power is up by five horsepower to 350 at 7,400 rpm, rising by 15 hp to an even 400 at 7,400 rpm for the 3.8-litre Carrera S. Maximum engine speed is raised from the 997 Carrera’s 6,500 rpm to 7,800 rpm for the 991.

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