Car of the Year 2009: No. 4: Porsche 911 Carrera S

Perfection Pursued
If Las Vegas bookmakers had set an official line, the new Porsche 911 Carrera S coupe and cabriolet would have been the odds-on favorites going into this contest. The 911 Turbo virtually tied the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano for second place in last year’s judging. The latest model is impressive, particularly its dual-clutch transmission, which stands as a logical next step in Porsche’s evolutionary pursuit of perfection. Yet this pursuit must continue. Porsche has also made an unnecessary alteration to the car’s normally preternatural steering, which now feels somewhat numb on-center. —Gregory Anderson

 

Past and Present
When it comes to building perfect—albeit small, marginally impractical, expensive, and thoroughly vertical—sports cars, no company can outdo Porsche. With the Carrera S, it continues massaging museum-piece mechanicals and managing minutiae. For traditionalists, the ignition key switch remains on the left side of the dash, and the transmission is a 6-speed manual. For progressives, the 911’s double clutch and seven gears are dreamy. Porsche’s pinpoint steering, muscular brakes, and wriggle-free handling remain intact. —Paul Dean

 

Play It Again, Porsche
The problem some enthusiasts have with this venerable model is that nothing changes. But for others, the 911’s appeal actually lies in its design stasis: a combination of consistently superior fit-and-finish quality, enviable road manners, and that always-inspiring (even in water-cooled guise) flat six sitting behind the real axle. There are, in fact, a few new elements in this year’s 911, including a dual-clutch 7-speed transmission that provides a pleasing alternative to the traditional stick. Shifts are brisk and clunk-free, though the paddles, which seem to sprout all over the steering wheel, are a bit disconcerting. Yet, for the money, the 911 delivers solid value: performance, elegance, and unimpeachable racing history in one oh-so-familiar package. —Marco R. della Cava

SPECIFICATIONS:

Configuration Rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe/cabriolet
Engine 3.8-liter flat six
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual
Power 385 hp at 6,500 rpm
Torque 310 ft lbs at 4,400 rpm
Zero to 60 4.1 seconds (coupe), 4.3 seconds (cabriolet)
Top Speed 186 mph
Base Price $87,150 (coupe), $97,750 (cabriolet)
Price as Tested $106,730 (coupe), $119,925 (cabriolet)
Robb Report Rating 92.9
Porsche, www.porsche.com

Photo by Drew Phillips
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