Porsche Defines Sports Cars with the 911

Physician's Money Digest, July31 2003, Volume 10, Issue 14

The details of refinement requiredin practicing medicineare similar to the detailsrequired in manufacturing a precisioninstrument. Porsche has consistentlybuilt precise and responsivemachines. You need transportation toget places, and a Porsche providesyou with a little zing, a refreshing distractionbetween appointments.

Today's Porsches have their ownidentity. The flat 6-cylinder, rear-mounted-engine 911 model caneither drive the rear wheels or allwheels, and starts nicely equippedbelow $70,000. For the highestspeed, 2-wheel drive, 2-seater sportscar, the Porsche 911 GT2 is one ofthe world's finest. Some believe thetop-of-the-line GT2 outdoes Lamborghinior Ferrari's 575M or evenMercedes Benz's SL 55 AMG.

The Porsche 911 is a classic ride,and comes standard with an enginemeasuring 3.6 liters, 320 horsepower(hp), and 273 pounds of torque. A 6-speed transmission with clutch isstandard, and the now famous Tiptronicautomatic is available.

You may find it interesting tounderstand the different charactersthat go into producing the 911 TurboAWD 415 hp and why you might considerit over the GT2, which puts out456 hp from the same engine volume.

AWD CUSTOMIZED LOOK

The difference:

Let's focus on the AWD 4-seater.If you live north of the 47th parallelor you frequently drive on loose orsandy surfaces, the turbo all-wheeldrive starts with 415 hp, but offersan OX5 engine option that pumpsyou up to 450 hp (almost the sameas the ultimate GT2 model). The AWD turbo 911 modelsgive you all kinds of bonuses.

Take the time to factory order.Theoptions available can change the lookand feel of the car substantially. Forexample, on the exterior, there's anaero kit that changes the front, sides,and rear to a fixed wing instead of thedual-opening wing. The dual-wingmechanism pumps up at 70 miles andretreats below 50 mph. On the interior,option XSU actually lowers theseat for especially tall drivers.

While a dark interior is best forthe least distraction and reflection,you have many choices of packagesand looks. Choose from the aluminum-look, carbon-look, or leatherand wood packages. Interior colorchoices include beige, blue, brown,green, and red, and allows for certaindeviations (eg, the upper dashboardcan be a dark earth tone).

While Xenon headlights are standard,foot-well lights are an optionlikely to save your ankles. You caneven have the insignia on the doorsill,to match the brake lever and shifterknob trim options. The most hip ofoptions is #498, which allows you todelete the model designations of yourturbo at no charge from the exteriorof the car—very stealthy.

EMPOWERING FEATURES

After the visual inspection, lookinto the X50 450 power kit.Although about $18,000, it's exactlywhat turns the turbo AWD into acollectable car. Get it with the Tiptronic,which is pleasantly snappy,and avoid all the shifting in traffic.

Now that you have ordered one ofthe most powerful engine packages onthe planet, go for the overpowering,fast-stopping Composite CeramicBrakes.While they're priced at $8000,they guarantee that your car moves upto collectible status. Even with thestandard sport chassis, which includesmore rigidly tuned springs andshocks, the ride remains reasonable.

If you're adventurous or don't liketo figure out traffic, go for theNavigation System. Option P16, theCommunication Management System,provides a nicer, cleaner dashboard,and makes it pretty difficult toget lost. The roughly 6-inch screen isunobtrusive and perfectly placed for acopilot's assistance.

Thank goodness for the stabilitymanagement option. Yes, it's standard,and very helpful. If you have afew city blocks' worth of open tarmac,shut off the stability management,throw your car through the S's,and feel how you gracefully lose it.Make sure you have plenty of room,as it's likely your rear will comearound on you. Put on the stabilitycontrol and even a bad driver beginsto look good. It ensures that you'reneither abusing power nor loosingcontrol in turns, making drivingmore relaxing and confident.

In the Pacific Northwest, wherethe roads are wet half the time, wetook the all-wheel drive to the limits ofadhesion at reasonably low speeds,and felt the front wheels grab hold of40% of the power and help pullthrough the turns. The combinationof all-wheel drive, antilock brakes, stabilitycontrol, and an automatic transmissionmakes this top-end Porscheeasy to drive, even if you aren't used tobeing behind the wheel of one of theworld's ultimate performance cars.

An overall length of about 175inches lets you fit into many spaces.The rack-and-pinion steering ispower-assisted, feeling light andfast, so urban driving is comfortableand highway driving is responsive.It's a hot car to look at, and the interioris pleasant, modern, and functional,not overstuffed.

PORSCHE EDUCATION

If you're looking into sports cars,test drive at least 1 Porsche. Take allcars to the limits of adhesion onroads that are familiar, noting eachmodel's different feel and response.

When you do buy an ultimateperformance car like the 911, it'simportant to take a driving schoolcourse to learn thoroughly the car'sunique characteristics. Because ofits rear-engine placement, its characteris different from most vehicles.Spend a little time at the Porschedriving school (www.porschedriving.com).Take the 3-day course forthe best results. Push it a little andhave fun as the road starts twisting,and you'll feel one with the car. Seehow well you sense your car on theroad. Even with an automatic, standardengine, you can expect a toptrack speed of well over 170 mph.

Jean Swenson and Ashly Knapp, are independent

research reporters and founders of

AutoAdvisor.com.