It’s fast, fun and well built, says Ouseph Chacko as he drives the Porsche Carrera S on the Yamuna Expressway

The early morning haze hangs low as the red Porsche Carrera S slips its way through New Delhi’s wide avenues. The 3.8-litre, direct-injection flat six hasn’t fully warmed up yet, so we’re ambling along Rajpath. Still, it’s quite clear that this is the wrong place for a car like this — there aren’t many corners and so, not many opportunities to see how good this new 911 is. So we head to the six-lane Yamuna Expressway. It should be enough to uncover a fair bit of this new 911’s talent. The ride, for example, is firm, as it should be in a car that’s got 394bhp in the boot, but it’s not bone-jarringly so. On the softer of the 911’s electronic damper settings it’s perfectly acceptable, even over expansion joints and uneven tarmac.

The other obvious trait is the build quality — it is simply fantastic. The leather and aluminium cabin is smart, the switches function with purpose and the sheer sense of solidity is up there with full-size German luxury saloons. Sure, you will find more special cabins in other sportscars, but this one remains devoted to function, namely the business of driving, hence the large central tacho and the inclusion of both oil and water temperature gauges.

Power delivery is beautifully linear, the engine pulls harder and harder as the rev counter whips around the dial, and the top end, especially post-6000rpm, is ballistic. There are three driving modes — Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. Switching upwards through them brings increasingly aggressive gearshifts, sharper throttle responses and a meatier exhaust note.

And that’s one of the great bits of this new 911. The soundtrack the naturally aspirated, direct-injection motor belts out is quite stirring — it sounds like the air-cooled motors on old 911s and even takes on a beautifully full-bodied rasp when you’re stretching it to the redline.

You can turn the volume down by pressing a button on the centre console, but I loved letting it sing through its quad pipes.

The flat six makes its peak power of 394bhp at 7400rpm, peak torque of 44.8kgm kicks in at a lower 5600rpm and the engine revs all the way to 7800rpm. In true Porsche tradition, this Carrera S makes 49bhp more than the base Carrera.

Still, the performance doesn’t feel as intense as some of its supercar rivals, and the 911 masks its truly impressive 4.5sec 0-100kph time a bit too well. In fact, the VBOX points out how it is always hugely faster than it feels. Just look at the staggering in-gear times — just 3.8sec from 40 to 100kph.

For a car with most of its weight slung out behind the rear axle, this rear-wheel-drive 911 has no right to go around corners the way it does. There’s little understeer, no oversteer (unless you provoke it), the new, controversial electro-mechanical steering is superbly weighted, direct and full of feel, and there’s enormous grip from the fat Pirelli P-Zero tyres. Seriously, over the generations, Porsche has properly tamed the 911’s heavy tail, and so this new one is not too intimidating to drive. And when you approach the limit, you know exactly what’s going on because the car communicates so much of what it’s doing through the seats and the steering wheel.

And it gets better the harder you drive it. Keep the engine in the top half of its rev range, push it as hard as you dare through corners, and you will find beautiful balance and near-perfect chassis responsiveness.

Part of this is down to the chassis improvements on this 991-generation car. With 90 per cent of its mechanical ingredients either new or improved, this 911 is a completely different animal under the skin. It features completely new axle dimensions (longer wheelbase, wider front track) and more . So, it’s lighter, more powerful and more stable.

And it’s got torque-vectoring and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard, which is why it’s so staggering around the few corners I managed to string together.

It’s fast, it’s fun and Porsche has ironed out most of the quirks of the old 911 (Rs. 1.33 crore). It rides reasonably well too, and the only real criticism I can level at it is that it never felt as dramatic as it actually is. That it’s so usable, quite practical and so well built only makes it look like the supercar of the year.


Drive it like CaymanApril 23, 2013