It might be bring a smile to your face to recall the very first time you ever set foot in a Porsche. I had just that experience this week. My daughter-in-law offered a leisurely drive along the Maine coast in a 2012 911 Carrera Cabriolet. Perfect weather; light traffic; narrow and winding freshly paved roads; steep hills; challenging country curves all lay ahead. Should be fun, I thought, as I innocently plopped myself into the passenger seat of the shiny new 911. This would be my first time ever in a Porsche. I had no idea what was in store for me.
It was a beautiful, perfect late summer day. The Porsche's cabriolet top unlatched itself from above the windscreen and stored quickly somewhere into the rear. With the press of another button, a windscreen silently popped up behind my head across the full length of the vehicle.
A Big Man Fits in the Porsche 911 Cabriolet No Problem
At 6' 4" and nearly 240 lbs I was amazed at the room available to stretch out. From the outside it didn't seem possible, but I fit easily. Even though this particular 911 was a cabriolet, I had plenty of head room. I was low to the ground but had an excellent view all around. The Porsche fit me like a glove... and I was just the passenger. The pilot to my left seemed even more comfortable as first gear was engaged and we departed the driveway. Before I could even think about it, she was in second gear and 70 mph loomed large on the instrument panel as a guage lit up in yellow then red indicating a shift point [Editor's note: The 7spd manual transmission comes equipped with a Gearshift Assistant that indicates shift points over 5000 RPMs]. As she shifted into third I became acutely aware of how comfortable the seat I was pressed into felt.
The roar from the engine and exhaust seemed to flood my ears with an aural overload. We were moving so fast in those first few seconds that I instinctively pressed my foot to the floorboard looking for the brake pedal... (just like my mother... years ago when I would drive too fast on the highway).
Passing is a Breeze
Just as it seemed things were calming down we closed on a group of slower moving cars. With a lightning quick downshift, from 3rd to 2nd, the Porsche accelerated past the four slower moving cars with an ease that made it seem nearly effortless. It was over before I knew it. The 911 seemed to dig deeper into the road the faster we moved [Editor's Note: The 2012 911 Cabriolet has 350 hp, a top speed of 179 mph and a conservatively estimated 0 to 60 time of 4.6 seconds with the manual transmission] . As we approached curves in the road, I expected she would slow to a more reasonable speed but we continued to accelerate. The way this Porsche handled you would think it was a curve straightening machine. At about this point, I relaxed and resumed breathing. A red light on the instrument panel indicated we had been pulling nearly a full g at our maximum acceleration.
I was enjoying the ride but something was bothering me. The faster we moved, the deeper my concern. The back roads near the coast of Maine are green and beautiful, but farms and houses and the occasional intersecting rural roads were plentiful. What if a tractor pulled out from a field.... or a farmer in a beat-up old pickup truck backed out of one of the many hidden driveways or lanes overgrown with brush. Wasn't this speed just a little too dangerous? [Editor's note: While our drive was definitely "spirited" we weren't going anywhere near as fast as my father in law makes it sound! ]
The 2012 Porsche 911 Cabriolet's Stopping Power Will Blow You Away
Not to worry. The style, the speed, the handling of the new 911 were all working together to impressed me deeply. But it was the stopping power of this vehicle that really blew me away. I never expected it!
On a straightaway at about 70 mph, with no one else on the road, we braked aggressively in order to show me just what this machine was capable of. I swear the Porsche stopped in less than 40/50 feet of travel [Editor's Note: This 911 is actually capable of decelerating from 60 mph to a dead stop in just a hair over 94 feet]. Had I not been wearing a seat-belt I'm sure I would have been thrown from the car (thankfully I knew in advance we were going to be experimenting so I was able to prepare). Again, on a wider road with no traffic in sight, we did an emergency stop (not a panic stop). This time the tires chirped a little (bumps in the road?) but we stopped almost instantly. Absolutely amazing performance. Absolutely amazing! I'm still dizzy...
Sports Exhaust is a Must Have Option
Pressing a few buttons on center console, my pilot demonstrated a distinct change in pitch or sound of the Porsche's exhaust [Editor's note: Our 911 Cabriolet was equipped with the Sports Exhaust option]. More than a few farm tractors stopped short in the fields to look up as we whizzed by. I'm certain they anticipated a loud crash as we crested the next hill and rounded the corner. Yet another console button changed the suspension [Editor's Note: We had the Sports Chrono option that gave us a Sports Plus button] so that we could now feel every ripple, crack and dent in the road.
My experience won't surprise any of you who are veteran Porsche owners (or passengers). I'm sure you can explain the mechanics and the engineering far better than I. But for those of you who may have never even driven in a Porsche before... please, give it a try. You will be amazed, too. I promise. I just recently became a licensed pilot and have been in the market for a small plane for the last few months. I'm now thinking maybe I need a Porsche instead.
One serious tip, however... make sure you have an experienced driver to show you what a Porsche can do and a safe place to do it. You do need to know how to drive well to handle this machine at its limits [Editors Note: We never got anywhere near the limits of this 911]. I can't imagine owning such a powerful beast without frequent access to a well qualified track and tutor. So, do you remember your first ride in a Porsche?
This post was written by my father-in-law, Bob Irving. I didn't request it and surely didn't expect it, but after his ride with me in the 2012 Porsche 911 Cabriolet that Porsche lent us for the week, he felt compelled to contribute and share.
Other Porsche Blog Posts We Think You Should Read
Pictures, Pricing and Video of the 2012 Porsche 911 Cabriolet
Official Pictures, Pricing and Information on the new 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and 4S
2012 Porsche 911: Our First Drive and Review