Every time that we think Porsche has finally built the perfect sports car, they surprise us with more! More power, more agility, more convenience, and more style. And Porsche’s latest upgrade to the perfect sports car is the all-new 2005 911 Carrera S. So how much more perfect can a sports car be?
If you’re a Porsche engineer, there is no such thing as the ‘‘perfect sports car.’’ But to those of us who drive cars in a world full of compromises, it seems that the wizards at Porsche have delivered a 2005 911 Carrera S that is as perfect as a sports car can be. Porsche refers to the ‘‘S’’ as the ‘‘stronger brother’’ of the all-new 911 Carrera series. And it definitely has more muscle, boasting a 3.8-liter flat-six engine for 355 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque—a boost of 30 horses and 22 pound-feet over the 3.6-liter engine in the standard Carrera. Both Carreras use the new beefed-up 6-speed manual transmission, though the S gets a novel self-adjusting clutch. An improved Tiptronic automatic is optional.
All 911 Carreras ride on a new chassis. The 92.5-inch wheelbase is the same as last year, but with a wider track for even more stability at speed, as well as a more aggressive stance. The new suspension, MacPherson strut front and 5-link rear, is lighter and stronger, with lightweight aluminum springs and elastic foam rear suspension mounts. In Sport tune, ride height is lowered compared to the standard Carrera. The S also adds Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system. It provides two computerized suspension maps, Normal, and Sport with firmer settings for the adjustable shocks. The final link in the Carrera S handling chain is standard 19-inch wheels, a first for the Carrera line, wearing Z-rated high performance tires. Porsche fans will note that the wheels and the two pairs of dual tailpipes also visually set the Carrera S apart from the standard 911.
The new Carrera has more aggressive and more sensuous bodywork than its predecessor. Much time was spent in the wind tunnel to reduce aerodynamic lift and improve cooling. Additional lift control comes from the Carrera’s retractable spoiler, which deploys at 75 miles-per-hour.
With so much power and grip, the Carrera S darts from 0 to 60 in only 4.4 seconds. The quarter mile flashes by in 13 seconds flat at 109 miles-per-hour. Despite a bit of wheel hop, the Carrera S jumps easily off the line. Power delivery is smooth and strong. The clutch feels a little soft by Porsche standards, but the manual shifter is now firmer and more positive. With the Active Suspension in Sport mode, the Carrera S flies flat and low through corners. Add in electronic stability control, and even clumsy throttle and steering inputs fail to upset the—yes—perfect balance. The new variable ratio steering is quick, linear and progressive, but we’d like a touch more feel.
When the fun is over, the Carrera uses large disc brakes that are vented and cross drilled. They stop from 60 in a short average of 113 feet. New 4-piston monoblock calipers provide plenty of power, but the pedal feel is softer than in previous Carrera models. Ceramic Composite brake discs, once available only on the 911 Turbo, are now optional on all Carrera models. Away from the rough-and-tumble of the race track, with the suspension in ‘‘Normal’’ mode, the Carrera S delivers an invigorating, yet refined, driving experience. The ride is resilient and much smoother than expected.
Reinforcing that feeling of refinement is an all-new interior. While still traditional in appearance, there is a more linear look, and more safety features, including both seat-mounted thorax and door-mounted head airbags for side impact protection. A more comprehensive, 5-dial gauge cluster keeps the driver well informed. New seats with enhanced support hold occupants solidly in position. The wheel now adjusts for both reach and height. Sport Seats with added side bolstering are available as well. Also available is the Porsche Communication Management System, which includes DVD-based navigation and a 9-speaker CD stereo. A powerful 13-speaker Bose system is another option. As is the Sports Chrono Package Plus, that activates more aggressive maps for the engine, suspension, and stability systems, as well as stop watch and lap timer functions.
On a more practical note, designers have provided more storage space in the glove box, center console and door pockets. And more importantly, extended service intervals to 20,000 miles for oil changes, 40,000 miles for air filters, and 60,000 miles for spark plugs.
Pricing for the 2005 Porsche Carrera S starts at $79,100. If that’s a little steep, you can save 10 grand with the standard Carrera, but you’ll have to give up some power and handling. Not that the standard 911 Carrera is any slouch, but the Carrera S simply delivers more. It’s quicker, tighter, and sharper, and at this high level of entry, well worth the extra greenbacks.
With each new generation of 911, Porsche does indeed redefine the perfect sports car, and the 2005 911 Carrera S, with more power, agility and style, has made that perfection more obvious than ever before.
Engine: 3.8-Liter Flat-six
Torque: 295 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 4.4 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 13 Seconds @ 109 MPH
60-0 MPH: 113 Feet