Posts from ‘Porsche’
The word iconic gets thrown around fairly freely for a lot of things that are merely successful, but if there’s an automobile that truly deserves that adjective, it’s probably the Porsche 911. Going on 50 years now—the public debut of the prototype was at the September 1963 Frankfurt auto show—the shape of the 911 has stayed true to its original theme, while the sports car’s performance has risen to ever-greater heights. It is an icon in the strict dictionary sense of something whose form suggests its meaning.
Starting with a prospective late-’50s design from Albrecht Goertz, young F. A. “Butzi” Porsche transformed it into the low, taut fastback coupe (with vestigial rear seats) that became the unmistakable 911 shape. Specific dimensions may have changed over the years, but the cant of any 911’s roof, the shape of its side windows, and the slope of its nose between prominent headlights have created an enduring symbol of the automaker from Stuttgart.
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Porsche 911.
Porsche is using the 2013 New York Auto Show to celebrate the 50th birthday of its most iconic sports car. Part of the festivities include the debut of the 2014 911 GT3.
The GT3 is basically a sportier version of the standard 911 Carrera. How do you make an already sporty car even more so? By giving it more power, better handling, and more expressive styling.
Porsche accomplishes the first by taking a 3.8-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine and massaging it to 475 horsepower. Though this motor is technically related to the 3.8-liter unit in the 911 Carrera S, the company says only a few parts are shared between them. Unique to the GT3 are titanium connecting rods and forged pistons, each of which is necessary to sustain the engine under extreme loads—up to 9000 rpm in this case. Power gets to the rear wheels (all-wheel drive is not offered on the GT3) via a specially designed 7-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, called a PDK in Porsche speak. Much to the chagrin of purists, no manual transmission is available. A sport exhaust allows gases to escape faster, and the GT3 gives owners the ability to switch between two modes.
In this edition of “The Keymaster,” we take a look at the key fob for the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S.
Unlike the last Keymaster post on this blog, which focused on the Jaguar XJL Supersport’s fob (which looks like a square with rounded corners), the Porsche’s key is much more imaginative. About as long as your index finger, the 911’s key is loosely shaped like the sports car to which it’s married. The Porsche shield is a textured badge set into the hood. The buttons on the “roof” have a rubbery feel and, when pressed, activate a blinking red light above the “Unlock” button. Though heavier than the average “smart” key, it won’t put a strain on your key ring. Its weight simply imparts a feel of quality and substantiality.
Like all transponder key fobs, the 911’s has a metal key hidden within its body. Its purpose is to allow entry to the car in case of a dead battery in the vehicle, the fob, or both. Turn the fob over, slide the switch on the bottom end, and voila!
Doing hard time can change a man. Things you thought were true on the outside become less clear as time on the inside accrues. I did time—four years, in fact. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a lot of that time, at least the part that wasn’t spent in chemistry. You see, I was sentenced to four years of “learning” at Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois. My crime? Finishing eighth grade.
One thing I learned was that though you can lock a man up and hand him a German II textbook, you can’t stop him from thinking about cars. And think about them I did. It was during this period that the magic triumvirate of working at a gas station, reading Car and Driver, and living someplace rural enough to attempt crazy things in cars came together to reshape my worldview. Well, my automotive worldview at least.
I learned a few important things. From the gas station, I learned that American-made cars produced in the late ’70s and early ’80s were largely laughably crummy. The build quality was embarrassing, performance dull, and reliability distressing.
The price cap here is absolutely necessary. Virtually every new car from Aston Martin and Ferrari is a stunner, and the Audi R8 leaves me weak-kneed. But once we descend into the world of the sub-exotic, things are much less clear.
Here I have chosen five cars that have recently caught my eye in traffic. Three of these are reasonably affordable, and each earns a place in my heart for standing out on a crowded tarmac.
For those who cling to the notion that “all cars look alike these days,” I respectfully disagree. Here’re a few rides that look good and, more importantly, look distinct. Got your own list? Let’s hear it.
Acura can’t give these away, and for good reason. The ZDX costs more than the brand’s excellent MDX midsize crossover yet offers shoppers a bunch less passenger space. A pity, as this fun-to-drive luxury ride is flat-out fabulous to look at.
Showing best in silver or black, the ZDX looks like the improbable mating of an SUV with a tiger shark. Sales of this slick ride have been dismal—fewer than 800 found homes in 2012—so expect it to be unceremoniously deleted from the Acura lineup sometime soon.
I’m not a classic car guy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the designs of days gone by. Here are just a few of the cars that I think have stood the test of time. They look just as good today as they did back then, and arguably even better than many of their contemporaries. Presented for your consideration, in alphabetical order:
1961-67 AC Cobra (aka Shelby Cobra)
The original Chevrolet Chevelle, Ford Mustang, and Plymouth Barracuda are stand-out muscle cars in their own rights, but none have the lasting presence of the Cobra. The desirable “427” models crammed a 425-horsepower 7.0-liter (427 cubic inch, hence the name) V8 engine into a British-engineered 2-door convertible that weighed less than 2,400 pounds. It’s fast. It’s iconic. It’s expensive. An original 1960s model will set you back a few hundred thousand dollars in “driver-quality” condition. For us regular folks, “kit cars” with the same legendary shape but different engines and more-modern chassis can be had for less than $40,000.
Making its world debut at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show was a revamped version of Porsche’s entry-level coupe. The 2014 Porsche Cayman delivers more power, but with the promise of lower fuel consumption, all while retaining the same thrilling driving experience that’s a hallmark of the brand.
Cayman will return in Base and high-performance S trim levels. Each has a horizontally opposed “flat” 6-cylinder engine and the choice of a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission. The Base uses a 275-horsepower 2.7-liter engine while the S has a 325-horsepower 3.4-liter unit. Depending on engine, transmission, and whether or not you select the optional Sport Chrono Package, 0-60 mph will come anywhere between 4.4 and 5.1 seconds.
Base models will start at $52,600. The Cayman S commands an $11,200 premium. The 2014 Porsche Cayman is scheduled to reach dealerships in spring 2013.
Due a bit sooner than Cayman is the new 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4. This is the all-wheel-drive version of the company’s flagship sports car. Porsche is basically bringing the Carrera 4 in line with the rear-drive 911 Carrera, which was redesigned for the 2012 model year.
Consumer Guide Automotive editors are a discerning bunch. When rating vehicles in the category of Acceleration, they have to be blown away—almost literally—before they will bestow a perfect score of 10. Horsepower is not enough; editors look for a car that’s quick from a stop and delivers smooth, linear power.
For model-year 2012, CGA editors lauded 18 cars with perfect 10s for acceleration. (Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to test many exotics, including Ferraris and Lamborghinis.)
Perfect 10s for Acceleration
Powertrain: 510-hp 6.0-liter V12, 6-speed automatic transmission w/manual-shift capability
CG Says: “The exhaust note is intoxicating, and it accelerates with the ferocity you’d expect from a 12-cylinder sports car.”
Powertrain: 510-hp 5.9-liter V12, 6-speed manual transmission
CG Says: “Accelerates as well as you would expect from a supercar with 510 horsepower. Throttle response is outstanding in any situation. The manual transmission is a joy to use.”
Powertrain: 420-hp 4.2-liter V8, 6-speed manual transmission; 525-hp 5.2-liter V10, 6-speed manual transmission
A thorough test drive is always an important part of any new-vehicle buying experience. However, when it comes to high-end performance cars and enthusiast buyers, a run-of-the-mill dealership test drive on city streets isn’t always sufficient to truly show off the vehicle’s capabilities. Luxury manufacturers realize this, and most of them offer a variety of brand-specific “driving experience” events that range from complimentary half-day product samplings to expensive, multiple-day high-performance-driving instruction courses. These events are held at various racetracks and private country club-style road courses around the country, usually during the summer months. Manufacturers get to showcase their current offerings and do a bit of direct marketing. Enthusiasts and prospective buyers get a dose of professional instruction and a supervised high-performance test-drive opportunity that’s (briefly) unconstrained by those pesky speed limits and traffic laws.
Also see Tom’s “What Would Star Trek Crewmembers Drive? Part 1”
Last time, we looked at the rides of Deanna Troi, Jean-Luc Picard, and Spock. This week, let’s check in with the original captain, the guy with the positronic brain, and the first Klingon to serve in Star Fleet. As before, we’re looking at production vehicles. Also, we’re assuming these guys don’t have budget issues.
James T. Kirk
What can you say about a guy who has saved everyone in the universe a dozen times over? He’s brash, brilliant, solidly egotistical, and inarguably cool. Kirk is a guy who values power and prestige—and he likes company. Kirk’s a talker, and thrives in front of an audience, so he needs a real back seat. For him, I choose a big, fast sedan. Something that’s a little less subdued than a Mercedes, but not quite so baroque or ponderous as a Rolls-Royce. For the man who beat Khan, I pick the Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed. The car’s boisterous five-word name alone pays tribute to a man whose legend is larger than life. With 600 horsepower on tap, the Flying Spur gets about as close to warp speed as any land-based vehicle should. And with space for an audience, Kirk can regale a small entourage with tales of green-lady conquests and evenings laced with Romulan ale.