Jaguar XKR-S 2013 Review
What a beast! Jaguar’s XKR-S makes its presence felt a hundred metres away, even when being driven...
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Driving entertainment and a design icon - there are few cars that qualify, but only one truly fits the bill - 911.
It is almost criminal to get paid for driving one. Almost. The instantly-recognisable sports-coupe is longer (of wheelbase mainly), wider and equipped with fuel-saving gizmos like an electric (gasp) power steering system.
The third all-new Porsche 911, since its birth in the mid 1960s, has hit our roads and rarely does the bitumen get punished like it does beneath this beasty.
The 911 Carrera S PDK is not for the faint-hearted spender - $263,100 is where the cash action starts, but as tested the steed for our week just topped $280,000.
That buys a four-occupant chariot, oodles of badge cred and everyday supercar abilities, as well as bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, indicators and rear tail-lights, a first-rate Bose 12-speaker surround sound system with noise compensation technology, power-adjustable leather seats, touchscreen satnav that can link to the phone, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with phone, audio and information display controls, auto-dimming mirrors and dual-zone climate control.
The options fitted to the "Guards Red" (or Cop Bait red) 911 we're playing with include the seven-speed PDK for $5950, an electric tilt/slide sunroof (for $3890), 20in Carrera Classic alloy wheels (an extra $2590), the active headlight system for $1690, $1590 worth of tyre pressure monitoring system, heated seats for $1050 and parking sensors front and rear for $890 - perhaps the last two might be expected as standard on a quarter-million worth of German machinery.
The flat-six 3.8-litre engine develops 294 kW at 7400rpm and 440Nm at 5600rpm using direct injection and a variable valve system that endows the boxer engine with remarkable flexibility. The optional 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) twin-clutch automated manual delivers lightning shifts with no shift-shock even at full noise, which is something to experience - it can also jump from top to 2nd in a heartbeat when required for overtaking.
The drivetrain also has some fuel-saving devices, including a unobtrusive stop-start system, brake energy recovery, electro-mechanical power steering and a de-coupling "coasting" fuel-saver function within the PDK, all of which contributes to a 15 per cent drop in fuel use and emissions. The S also gets a torque vectoring system (which gently brakes the inside rear wheel for better cornering) and electronically controlled dampers (with Normal and Sport mode) as standard.
Evolution of design by the crew at Porsche is done at a glacial pace. But if you're on a good thing you stick to it, and this is probably the most enduring automotive design around, save for the original VW Beetle..... Anyway, the extra width and wheelbase, as well as the shorter overhangs, do little to detract from it - if you like 911s you're going to go weak at the knees over the new one. If you're not a fan, seek medical advice.
Entering the cabin and snuggling into the interior - a long downward journey - but once in and set there's plenty of toys - adjustable suspension, touchscreen, the three-dial instrument panel and a grippy leather-wrapped steering wheel with the ridiculous manual-change buttons on the spokes, paddles please Porsche. The tombstone-style electrically-adjustable buckets are surprisingly supportive and comfortable but the flip-forward function doesn't move the seat base for rear occupants' egress.
While ANCAP probably doesn't have the budget to smash one up against something resilient, you'd expect a pretty good result from a car that has six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control and feels as though its been hewn from one piece of steel.
The six-pot front and four-pot rear brakes feel as though they should have a build-up of bitumen in front of the tyres in an emergency stop, such is the force of its retardation.
Twist the car-shaped key and the flat-six fires into life with a familiar rough and raspy cough; slip the PDK auto into D and hit the Sport button (which gives all the electronic stuff cause to toughen up) and prod the long throttle pedal. The engine note on part throttle has a delicious growl that only gets better with more throttle input, rising to a metallic bray that is evil, orchestral and intoxicating.
Conducted by super-slick instant cog-swaps from the PDK, the S is quickly and easily into licence loss territory - Porsche says 100km/h arrives in 4.3 seconds and the old 100mph mark would (on a racetrack or an autobahn, of course) be reached in an additional five seconds.
But straight line speed is only part of the appeal - the chassis (which delivers a remarkably good ride quality given 20in wheels, 35 and 30-profile tyres and sporting intentions) makes mincemeat of bends.
The new steering set-up is anything but an issue - there used to be an element akin to a kelpie with ADHD - the steering wheel bobbing, weaving and moving about a little in the bends - but not now.
It sits solidly on the road and goes where it's pointed without hesitation, firing out of corners with alacrity and considerable pace - there's no need to baby the throttle as this is no widowmaker. The rear seats are still extremely tight but concessions from front passengers on short trips can have all four seats occupied.
It's even able to have child seats employed, much to the delight of my four-year old son who is destined to remain annoyed well past his next birthday that I had to return it. But with 135 litres of luggage space you're probably going to need the back seat for baggage if your taken the Porsche on a roadtrip.
Porsche says there's a fuel use improvement despite the extra urge, claiming 8.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle - the trip computer showed 13.7l/100km (at an average of 40km/h) after more than 600km in the urban rat race and on country roads under the heavy influence of my right foot.
The new 911 delivers an epic performance, made even more enjoyable by the fact that this is a car that can easily be driven every day.
|Carrera||3.4L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$69,410 – 79,750||2012 Porsche 911 2012 Carrera Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4||3.6L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$101,530 – 116,710||2012 Porsche 911 2012 Carrera 4 Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4 GTS||3.8L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$113,740 – 130,680||2012 Porsche 911 2012 Carrera 4 GTS Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4 S||3.8L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$110,220 – 126,720||2012 Porsche 911 2012 Carrera 4 S Pricing and Specs|