Porsche's update to its 911 for the 2012 model year is an almost radical change, although you would hardly know it to look at the car. The new 911 Carrera S gets a host of handling technology and a simply tuned electric power steering system.
It takes a Porsche aficionado to tell one generation of 911 from another, and while the same goes for the 2012 model, it actually represents a substantial leap forward. The 2012 Porsche 911, which goes by the internal designation 991, has a longer wheelbase than the outgoing model, and a host of new handling technology.
Many cars distinguish themselves by their grille treatment, but the rear-engined 911 has always downplayed that element. The shape of the new 911 is similar to the previous version, yet along with the 4-inch-longer wheelbase, the overall length of the car has been extended by 2.2 inches. The new car looks less compact than the old.
Porsche did a very nice job on the rear taillights, one of the bigger cosmetic changes. As before, the engine still hangs out the back. Porsche got an extra 15 horsepower out of the direct injection 3.8-liter flat six in the 911 Carrera S, making the total output 400.
Porsche helps justify the 911's high price with a luxurious cabin, and many options as to interior appointments. The standard seats are manually adjustable, with 14-way power sport seats on the option list.
The 911 benefits from Porsche's latest cabin electronics. That means a navigation system with 3D rendered buildings and even satellite views at a high level of zoom. But Porsche only covers the basic cabin tech features, and has not explored connected car features.
As a fuel-saving measure, Porsche went to an electrically boosted power-steering system. The feel is very different than on the previous generation's hydraulically boosted system. The new system communicates less of the road surface, but has point-and-shoot response.
It is convenient that the music library interface shows how many albums and artists are on the current device plugged into the system. Not as convenient is the fact you have to hit the Start Playback button after drilling through a category to choose music.