And it really does feel this fast, especially when leaving the PDK transmission, suspension and throttle in Sport Plus. We enjoy the PDK with its Porsche in-house hands-on version of the ZF software since it is as fast as the fastest out there and all shifts create a terrific “bridge” growl from the exhaust. The 20-inch Pirelli P Zero tires—245/35ZR20 front, 295/30ZR20 rear—created quite a racket when we hit the older cement roads, but on the smoother black asphalt the sound is silky nice. Then on a special autocross parcours at a local airport, the new steering, chassis geometries, lighter and more rigid sprung weight, rear torque vectoring with torque braking of the inside rear wheel, and much improved PASM, the brisk transitions are ever so smooth.

Porsche gets numerically obsessed with a “991 911.” We were wary, feisty, aloof. After a day’s drive, we’re like pre-teens at a ...

Chassis project manager for the 991, Ulrich Mobitzer, explained the new and improved PASM for us. Whereas prior to now there was only one acceleration sensor on the left side of each axle, there are now three acceleration sensors and one wheel travel sensor at each hub. As with the extensive steering work, this PASM has been honed to greatness and the three modes—Normal, Sport, Sport Plus—are distinctly separate and each is much more sophisticated beneath us in its own right. The dynamic sway bars of Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) are available as an option only on the Carrera S and our car stayed amazingly flat through each and every curve. All too civilized? We might just be able to live without the PDCC on our personal 991, though work it certainly doth.

We also spent a good couple of hours in a manually equipped Carrera S, weighing 66 pounds less than the 997 II CS equivalent trim and some 44 pounds less than the PDK-equipped 991. Another frisky plus here is that only the manual cars come standard with a mechanical locking differential with 22 percent lock in acceleration and 27 percent in deceleration. The seven-speed phenomenon is another ZF PDK-derived setup and the 0.71:1 Seventh gear can only be reached when coming from either Fifth or Sixth gear. No surprises, it works great as expected, though that lever is way over there to the right when Seventh is engaged. On the other hand, the shift lever is very close to the steering wheel on the up-sloping, thick Carrera GT-like center console, an orientation that helps a bunch. Cruising in a manual Porsche 911 at 70 mph with just 2100 rpm on the tach is quite the new experience. Keep the optional sport exhaust switched off, too, and you really come close to hearing nothing.

In the driving of it, by the end, we realized that any fears of the beloved 911 turning into a fat and lazy GT car were unfounded; the 991 when driven as we like it driven is all 911 all the time. It’s just the new upgraded interior, mention of electro- anything in the steering, and visibly longer wheelbase that can create fear in us or in you prior to doing the drive. With such a great start on the “normal” Carrera S, we are waiting with bated breath on the arrival of all Turbo, GT3, RS, etc., trims to see how they up the ante on all comers. The 991 911 Carrera and Carrera S arrive together at dealers on February 4, 2012.

So, go do the drive.

2012 Porsche 991 911 Carrera S

Layout
Longitudinal rear engine, rear-wheel drive

Engine
3.8-liter, flat six, dohc, 24-valve. Porsche VarioCam Plus intake, ECU reprogramming via Sport/Sport Plus buttons, optional sport exhaust, auto start-stop in Normal mode

Transmission
Optional–seven-speed Porsche-ZF PDK automated manual, standard Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+) with electronic differential lock and brake steer. Standard – seven-speed ZF manual with mechanical limited-slip differential and PTV

Suspension
Aluminum double wishbone (f), aluminum multi-link (r), adaptive Bilstein dampers with Thyssen-Krupp springs, Porsche Active Suspension Management, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control sway bars, Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts

Brakes
13.4-inch rotors w/ six-piston monobloc aluminum calipers (f), 13-inch rotors w/ four-piston monobloc aluminum calipers (r), Porsche Stability Management, brake steer via PTV+, optional front PCCB brake rotors

Wheels and Tires
Five triple-spoke flow-formed alloys, 8.5x20 (f), 11x20 (r)
Pirelli P Zero, 245/35 (f), 295/30 (r)

Exterior
New aluminum door, roof, hood, decklid and floor panels; front and rear aprons w/ larger intakes and vents; integrated rear ducktail lip; automated rear spoiler; quad-tip exhaust

Interior 2+2 arrangement, full leather w/ satin-finish aluminum detailing, sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, Carrera GT/Panamera-style center tunnel

Performance
Peak Power: 394 hp @ 7400 rpm
Peak Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 5600 rpm
0-62 mph: 3.9 sec. (as tested, w/ Sport Plus + PDK); 4.3 sec. (w/ manual + Sport Plus)
Top Speed: 189 mph (manual); 188 mph (PDK)

MSRP: $97,350
(includes $950 destination charge)

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