Luxe

A weekend with the 911

Dhiram Shah | Updated on March 10, 2018

Showstopper: At first glance, the Porsche 911 Carrera S is stunning

Classic flaw: The 911’s broad wheel arches send an excessive amount of tyre noise into the cabin

How the Porsche 911 Carrera S measures up on city roads

Is there something like a practical sports car? In other words, is it possible to drive a sports car that is practical for our roads and traffic conditions? A car which can go from 0-to-100 km/hr in under five seconds, has an engine that growls when you push the pedal, has looks that make heads turn and, most importantly, is not something that you take out of your garage only after two in the morning. To find an answer to this question, I spent a weekend behind the wheel of a 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera S on the streets of Mumbai.

At first glance

The 911 Carrera is stunning. Having debuted in 1963, the 911 is one of the most iconic cars of all time. Now in its seventh generation, it has still retained its classic shape that has remained almost unchanged for the past 50 years. It’s low, is curvy at the right places, and in a shiny midnight black paint, it looks dangerous and gorgeous all at once. The front lights of the 911, which have been the car’s most prominent design feature, are even more prominent and come with the new four-point daytime running lights that make the 911 more distinct from the front. Equally distinctive is the rear-end, which is now wider, sports sharper tail light strips and new air intakes that help cool the turbo-mated engine.

The interiors

Step inside and the interiors feel more like that of a luxury vehicle than a sports car. Trimmed with the best quality leather, the premium feel is further accentuated with aluminium highlights and switches. At the centre of the dash is Porsche’s new infotainment system, a crisp seven-inch multi-touchscreen that lets you easily control the entertainment, navigation and car features. Connecting a smartphone is also a breeze with the support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Shopping and more

There is a lot of head and legroom for those in the front. Unlike its rivals which are strictly two-seaters, the 911 has rear seats which can at best accommodate kids. They can also be folded flat into a shelf which, along with the 911’s nose-mounted boot, provide storage space. This was more than enough for my mother to keep the small bags after her trip to the local supermarket.

Next up, I decided to surprise my wife by picking her up from work. We were headed to Bandra (a Mumbai suburb) on a rainy afternoon for lunch. While performance cars are notorious for their blind spots, the 911 gives an excellent all-around view. The driving was extremely smooth in the city traffic, thanks to Porsche’s award-winning seven-speed dual clutch transmission or PDK. It is smart, fast and engages the right gear at the right moment. As easy as it is to navigate the car in city traffic, it is equally good at soaking up the bumps and irregularities that Mumbai’s infamous roads throw at it. At the press of a button, the suspension also raises the car by a few precious centimeters that help it go over those pesky speed bumps without scraping its underbelly.

Approaching the restaurant we had to take a U-turn, something that I would absolutely dread in the narrow bylanes of Bandra. But the rear axle steering, an ingenious system that turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels, came to my assistance, shortening the wheelbase. Making the tight U-turn in one go I headed to the restaurant where I could see not one but three overenthusiastic valets running towards my car. The 911 was aptly parked right outside the restaurant with a dedicated guard who kept the curious passers by in check when taking selfies.

Letting it loose

The rear-wheel drive Carrera S is bolstered by the new 3.0-liter, twin-turbo flat-six engine that delivers 420 bhp and 368 lb-ft of torque. According to Porsche, 0-to-100 kmph comes in 3.9 seconds, and that according to me is really fast. With the rains behind us, a Sunday morning seemed ideal to let the 911 loose — the Bandra Worli Sea Link, Marine Drive and the curvy 14-km long Eastern Freeway on all of them it constantly reminded me that I was in one of the most driver-focused cars out there. The steering wheel, derived from the 918 Spyder, is an absolute revelation. It is balanced, and lets you put the car where you want. Along with the regular controls, it comes with a toggle knob that lets you switch between four driving modes. These include normal (for everyday driving), Sport and Sport Plus (for spirited driving) and Individual, which is a blend of custom inputs. The engine is immediately responsive, and acceleration is accompanied by a satisfying growl along with the occasional pop and crackles.

Of course, no car is without shortcomings, and for the 911 Carrera S, its Achilles heel is the road noise. The 911’s classic design and the broad wheel arches send an excessive amount of tyre noise into the cabin. Other than that, it is one of the most impressive, well-rounded sports car that I have ever driven.

So, does any other car qualify as an everyday sports car for our roads? Yes, there is one more. Early this month, Porsche has launched the new 911 GT3 in the Indian market. Targeted at motoring enthusiasts, the GT3 is powered by a four-litre flat six-cylinder engine that delivers 500 bhp and 460 nM of torque. The car can go from a standstill to a 100 km an hour in 3.4 seconds. The GT3 will be offered in two transmission variants — automatic (PDK) and manual to appeal to the purists. The 911 GT3 starts at 2.31 crore (ex-showroom).

Dhiram Shah is the editor of luxurylaunches.com

Published on October 25, 2017

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