Perhaps the biggest challenge for Porsche chief designer Michael Mauer and his team was finding a way to give the 2012 911 line a fresh look while maintaining its iconic shape. There's little doubt you'll immediately recognize the look of the seventh-generation model while also realizing how much it has subtly changes.
A closer look, and a handy tape measure, will reveal that the 2012 reincarnation's wheelbase is stretched about four inches, the overall length by two. The new Porsche 911 has a slightly lower roof and a wider track. It also has bigger wheels, something designers are always looking for.
The 911's timeless headlamps are carried over, of course, but have a bit more of a 3-dimensional look, in keeping with a body that is more sculpted than before. The sheet metal has a more precise and taught feel, with a cabin that has moved ever so slightly forward. The overall appearance is one that is more dynamic, refined yet aggressive.
Even the base 911 Carrera now gets a pop-up, or active, wing. It's part of a new handling package that can include the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active roll stabilization system.
The new 911 may be bigger but it's shed a surprising amount of weight thanks to the increased use of aluminum and other lightweight materials. Curb weight totals 3,113 pounds with the PDK (double-clutch) gearbox, about 100 pounds less than the old model, internally known as the 997. That's no mean feat considering all the other new technologies stuffed inside the 2012 Porsche 911, internally known as 991.
Sports cars have traditionally put their emphasis on what's under the hood, not in the cabin, but recent generations of the Porsche 911 have focused more attention on the interior. The 2012 remake delivers the sort of refined and luxurious feel you'd expect from a luxury sedan in a similar price range.
New 14-way power sports seats are comfortable and enveloping, able to keep you in place even during the harshest cornering maneuvers. And unlike some, you can climb in and out with relative ease. As for the rear, well, the new 911 remains the classic 2+2 and the back seats are best suited to small children and light packages.
The overall appearance of the interior is one of Teutonic efficiency. The detailing is handsome and elegant but avoids the sort of gold-chain bling you expect from Ferrari and Lamborghini. There was a clear emphasis on improved ergonomics and that does mean some handsome additions on the technology front, with well-placed controls and easy-to-read gauges, a larger LCD navigation screen and a Panamera-derived center console that places key vehicle functions within easy reach. The 911 is smaller and less overloaded with toggles and switches than the four-door, thankfully.
There's a much better layout to the five-circle gauge cluster visible through the steering wheel. One of those is a multi-function LCD screen that can offer up a range of programmable information, including the most immediate navigation instructions or an active G-meter that instantly shows how hard you're accelerating, braking or turning. At one point, during a run down the test track it nudged an astounding 1.3 g.