$44,640 - $52,424

2012 Porsche 911 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Porsche 911 was new.


Performance: 8.9

The 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera gains more power to go along with its new look, and in general, auto writers like its powerful, refined drivetrain and athletic handling abilities. While some critics prefer the 2011 Carrera’s steering, reviewers unanimously agree that the new 2012 911 Carrera is not only a more capable sports car, it’s also more comfortable to live with on a daily basis.

  • "It turns in with the immediacy of a mid-engine car, puts power down with the traction of a four-wheel-drive car, and reacts with the gentleness of a front-engine, rear-wheel drive car." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "At the same time, the revised suspension also makes the new 911 more comfortable over long distances, improving the car's ability to be an everyday sports car." -- Edmunds 
  • "But what really matters is how does it drive? Very well actually. But saying a Porsche 911 drives well is like saying Einstein could do long division." -- Los Angeles Times 
  • "The 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S earns very high marks for its suspension and drive-train technologies. The electronics add to the handling without being intrusive, while the transmission shows it can deal with both performance and daily driving." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

Porsche’s redesign of the 911 Carrera and Carrera S includes some significant changes to the drivetrain. Both models are available with either a new seven-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) automated manual, but engine updates are also present in this rear-engined sports car.

The base 911 Carrera’s engine is slightly smaller than the 2011 model’s, but it’s also more powerful and returns better fuel economy. Its 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine delivers 350 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 287 pound-feet of torque at 5,600 rpm. Porsche says that the base 911 Carrera has a top speed of 179 mph and will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds with the seven-speed manual. Adding the PDK transmission and Sport Chrono package from the options list will maximize performance, giving the 911 Carrera a 0-to-60 time of 4.2 seconds.

The more powerful 911 Carrera S features a 3.8-liter flat-six that generates 400 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 5,600 rpm. With the seven-speed manual, the Carrera S will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds with a top speed of 188 mph. Add the optional PDK transmission and Sport Chrono package, and the Carrera S will make the dash from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.

Most reviewers have only had the opportunity to test the more powerful Carrera S model, and in general, they gush about the Porsche’s refined engine and slick-shifting transmissions. Some prefer the seven-speed manual, saying that its light, precise throws make the 911 a blast to drive. On the other hand, many test drivers agree that the PDK automated manual is so well-programmed and engineered, that it would be a mistake to overlook it.

Porsche has added a start/stop function to the new 911 Carrera, and in general, reviewers agree that the system isn’t jarring in stop-and-go traffic. The EPA reports that the 911 Carrera gets 20/28 and 19/27 mpg city/highway with PDK and manual transmissions, respectively. A similarly-equipped 911 Carrera Cabriolet returns the same fuel averages. The more powerful Carrera S model gets 20/27 mpg with the PDK and 19/27 mpg with the manual. The Carrera S Cabriolet gets 19/27 mpg fuel economy with either transmission.

  • "Surprisingly, the seven-speed stick isn't at all confusing to use: a clever solenioid-based lockout prevents access to the seventh-gear gate unless you've already engaged fifth or sixth." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The new flat-6 engine produces strong acceleration and sounds fantastic doing it." -- Edmunds 
  • "In a push for greater fuel economy, Porsche added an idle-stop system to the 911, shutting down the engine at stop lights. This system can be turned off at the push of a button, but I did not find it particularly intrusive, and it helps the car turn in an EPA-rated fuel economy of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway." -- CNET 
  • "Transmission wise, the new 911 is made for dual-clutching. In Sport Plus mode, the PDK's shift times are astounding, and it's now become clear that the killer app for PDK is letting it do all the shifting work - its predictive algorithm has become just that good." -- Jalopnik 

Handling and Braking

Reviewers think that the redesigned 911 handles better than ever. Porsche extended the wheelbase on the new 911, and reviewers say that the bigger footprint not only increases agility, but it also improves ride comfort. In fact, some test drivers say that the ride is comparable to luxury sedans, but with no loss in cornering ability.

However, not all reviewers are sold on the new 911 Carrera’s steering system. Some say that the 2011 model’s steering was more lively and direct, while others counter that the new car’s steering is just different, but still feels precise and offers great road feel.

  • "The ride is smoother than many luxury cars, but there are no wasted body motions." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Complementing the convertible's straight-line prowess is its adept ability at tackling corners." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The 991's new electric-assisted steering doesn't quite match the 997's hydraulic-boosted setup for feel, but the system remains incredibly precise, just as before." -- Edmunds 
  • "The chassis is stiff, and without a roof, it's still stiff. There is only a faint tremor of cowl shake on the bumpiest of roads. (We found some decently creviced roads to jar our vision, and still the cowl remained fully composed.)" -- Road and Track (911 Cabriolet)
  • "The car comes standard with six piston brakes up front and four piston brakes on the rear wheels. The stopping power is truly excellent, as modulating the brakes let me precisely slow the car depending on the upcoming turn." -- CNET 
  • "That means a more comfortable highway ride, but when it's called on to change direction, the 911 stays comically flat - for a road car - responding to steering inputs with remarkable quickness." -- Jalopnik 

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