Porsche 911 Performance
The 911 Carrera's high-performance sports engineering doesn't interfere with its daily-driving comfort. According to the, it's "the only super-high-performance car that can also be a stable, utilitarian daily driver."
Acceleration and Power
The 2008 911 Carrera's available engine options are impressive. "Torque-rich engines give any model strong thrust for all situations," says Consumer Guide. Cars.com adds, "Acceleration is energetic, even in non-Turbo models. The familiar engine whine isn't as omnipresent as it used to be, and the exhaust note is subdued yet exuberant."
The 911 Carrera base trim, 4, and Targa 4 come equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 325 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm. The Carrera S, 4S, and Targa 4S, however, feature a more powerful 3.8-liter V6 engine that makes 355 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm. While the quickest of these 911 trims, the Carrera S and 4S, boast a maximum track speed of 182 and 179 mph (respectively) and 0-to-60 mph time of only 4.6 seconds, reviews still commend the slower Targa 4 for its impressive maximum track speed of 174 mph and 0-to-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds. Even "the standard Carrera is a very quick car," says New Car Test Drive.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the most fuel efficient 911 Carrera is the base model, with a city/highway fuel economy of 17/25 miles per gallon (mpg) with the manual transmission and 17/24 mpg with the automatic. The Carrera 4S and Targa S, however, are rated the least fuel efficient, with an identical fuel economy of 16/24 mpg with the manual transmission and 17/23 mph with the automatic.
The Carrera's standard six-speed manual transmission gets a lot of praise. Edmunds says, "The shifts are so smooth and quick, it's hard to remember actually executing them." The explains: "Power from the 3.8-liter boxer-six engine is spun through a six-speed manual transmission whose click points are so tight you almost feel like you are paddle-shifting. It's that quick. The tug of the torque is so deep you can easily do a 1-3-6 shift pattern going from a stoplight, up an entrance ramp, and onto the highway."
Still, for those who prefer an automatic transmission, a Tiptronic S -- which combines a fully automatic five-speed with manual-control capabilities -- is available. Though New Car Test Drive prefers the manual gearbox for its ability to offer "quicker acceleration performance," it concedes that the automatic "is easier to manage in the kind of stop-and-go traffic found in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and other large cities." Cars.com adds, "Other than a brief downshift delay when coming out of curves, the Tiptronic operates impressively."
Handling and Braking
Most reviews say that the 911 Carrera offers impressive sports handling, but is still comfortable enough to drive on a daily basis. "Steeped in tradition, this thoroughly modern version of Porsche's seminal offering delivers a spectacularly well-sorted combination of power, handling and braking, while remaining very livable as an everyday driver," writes Kelley Blue Book.
Reviews, on balance, are positive about the 911 Carrera's variable ratio steering configuration, which increases the speed of turns the more a driver turns the steering wheel. While New Car Test Drive says that enthusiast drivers "tend not to like high-tech steering gizmos like variable-ratio steering," it admits that the system is "seamless, linear and predictable, and with a little familiarization, the Carrera's steering feels as pure and satisfying as any 911 before it."
While the 2008 Carrera's suspension system doesn't provide the most supple ride, critics stress that it's comfortable enough for a vehicle of the 911's stature. "Most owners will find the slightly taut suspension tuning totally acceptable," says Kelley Blue Book, "especially given the outstanding level of control it provides, although some may feel the 'S' types with their even stiffer settings and lower-profile tires are a bit too harsh on anything but ultra-smooth road surfaces." Consumer Guide adds, "Low-profile tires, taut suspension, short wheelbase combine for a ride that's extremely firm but seldom punishing, though sharp bumps can induce mild rear-end hop."
With the exception of the Carrera and Carrera S, each trim comes equipped with a fully independent suspension system that features MacPherson struts with forged aluminum control arms, coil springs, stabilizer bar, and negative steering roll radius in the front, as well as a LSA multi-link with stabilizer bar, coil springs, and self-stabilizing toe control in the rear. Also standard for the Carrera S, 4S, and Targa 4S is Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) -- which, according to Forbes, "uses sensors to monitor body movement and automatically adjust the suspension according to driving style and road conditions." Porsche says that its two modes, "Normal" and "Sport," allow drivers to experience a sporty performance at the track or on the twisties, and a comfortable cruise home. "The Porsche Active Suspension Management system, which can turn bad drivers into good ones, adds to the fun factor," says the . PASM is optional for all other trims.
Most impressive, however, is the 911 Carrera's advanced braking system. All trims feature an Anti-lock braking system (ABS) and four-piston monobloc fixed alloy calipers and ventilated brake discs. "Slam on the brakes and the 911 stops in less distance than just about any car on the road with relatively little nose dive," says New Car Test Drive. "Do this again and again and again, whether lapping a road course or barreling down a mountain road, and there is no perceptible fade or increase in stopping distance, even in situations that would have the brakes on lesser cars smoking." After test-driving a Carrera S, Edmunds reports: "Stopping from 60 mph in a scant 103 feet, pulling 0.92g on the skid pad and blowing through the slalom at 70.5 mph indicate how well the car sticks."
All Carrera trims also feature Porsche Stability Management (PSM), which monitors driver inputs and employs selective braking in order to avoid oversteer and understeer. According to Forbes: "PSM can be disabled for drivers who wish to explore the car's limits without electronic aids. If deactivated, heavy braking will automatically turn the system back on."
Adding to the 911 Carrera's handling abilities is Porsche's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive -- standard on the Carrera 4, 4S and Targa 4. While its daily-driving rear/front torque split configuration is 65/35, its viscous clutch can instantly transfer an additional five to forty percent of power to the front axel for increased traction as needed. According to the, "It makes for fabulous handling in wet conditions, and in hard cornering on dry pavement." All other models feature a rear-wheel drivetrain.
Available for all Carrera trims is Porsche's Sport Chrono Package Plus. This system enhances engine response to pedal thrusts, quickens gearshifts on vehicles equipped with Tiptronic S, prevents unwanted upshifts in manual mode, utilizes PASM to stiffen the vehicle's suspension configuration, and employs PSM -- all at the push of a "Sport" button located on the center console. A digital/analog timer keeps track of record times realized by the vehicle.
Also optional for all trims is Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) -- ceramic brake pads which are more resistant to temperature changes, and therefore better suited for performance driving. "The available ceramic brakes work extremely well for track duty due to their resistance to heat," says New Car Test Drive. "They are expensive, however, likely aren't as good when they're cold, and are unnecessary for all but serious weekend warriors. The ceramic brakes reduce unsprung weight by 40 pounds; if you don't know what that means you don't need them."