PORSCHE 911 CARRERA

Engine: 3.4 liter, 6 cylinder with 350 horsepower or 3.8 liter, 6 cylinder with 400 horsepower with the Carrera S
Acceleration: 0-60: 4.6 seconds to 3.9 seconds
Brakes: 4 wheel disc brakes, 4 piston caliphers, vented and cross-drilled discs.
Sound system: AM/FM/CD system with 235 watts and 9 speakers.
Price: Carrera $82,100, S model $96,400

[popeye include=”4719,4720,4721,4722,4723,4724″ exclude=”4725,4726″]

2012 PORSCHE 911

THE NEWLY ISSUED SEVENTH EDITION of the 911 combines both new technologies and some good old common sense. In regard to the latter, Porsche took the straightest route attainable in order to gain fuel economy as well as performance- by reducing vehicle weight. Aluminum and magnesium have replaced steel in some parts, while a higher-tech (and lighter grade of) steel was substituted in others. The result is a loss of nearly 200 pounds that, ironically (and quite happily) actually makes for even more interior room. The overall length has been bolstered 2 inches, while the wheelbase was extended a substantial 3.9 inches. The new 911’s track width has been extended by 2 inches.

Following suit with practicality, the base model engine has been reduced in size from 3.8 liters to 3.4 liters, yet with more horsepower-350, to be exact. For the S model, the 3.8-liter motor stays the same size as the previous model, but with a bolstered stable of horsepower, in the 400 pony range.

On the more technical side, two new transmissions are being introduced, both of the seven speed varietal. On the standard stick-shift model, the first six gears are much like the last model, with the addition of a seventh, super low ratio gear for economical fuel-sipping cruises. Likewise, the automatic (a gear-driven, double clutch affair) has the same.

Styling clearly shouts 911, but every surface has been refined. With the stretched wheelbase, the overhangs have been shortened. Further, the tire and wheel sizes have been upped to 19 inches on the standard model and 20 inches on the S. Big exhaust pipes extend out of the rear area, and the spoiler has been widened for increased downward force.

Inside, classic Porsche tradition is mixed with the ultra-modern. The tachometer remains in the center of the dash pod, along with multiple real gauges, and the ignition key is still inserted on the left side of the steering wheel. Everything else is both modern and updated.

A large video screen dominates the middle of the dash to show off literally every type of function and feature. Metal accents are placed elegantly throughout the leather-lined interior. Tall seat backs with highly bolstered (and ultra comfortable) seats hold the driver and passenger in place, with small jump seats found in the back. However, most owners will likely make use of the latter for storage, since trunk space is rather limited.

Transmission shifts can be handled by tapping the gearshift knob in the manual position or hitting paddles on the steering wheel.

Acceleration is in the throw-you-in-the-back-of-the-seat range with 0 to 60 mph in the under 5 second range (under 4 seconds depending on the model). The larger tire and wheels packages add to the G forces in the corners.

The new model is indeed an entirely tactile driving experience; steering, road sense and cornering all feel like an extension of the driver’s natural movements. To adjust these settings, there is an array of buttons to activate the tightening or loosening of the suspension, or to speed up-shifts and throttle response. To keep the car planted, the rear spoiler rises with speed, or it can be raised manually with the push of a knob.

The final example of old-meets-new in this latest 911 is the flat six-cylinder powerplant. Over the years, it has been considerably expanded in size, with power moving from air- to water-cooled. (This seemingly has had no effect in the purr during both starting and running.)

If seven is indeed a lucky number-and by all accounts, we certainly felt a familiar thrill behind the wheel-this iteration of the 911 that uses prior sensibility with new size, shape and features makes for a promising wager.

Luxury Asides

HIGH-END MEETS HYBRID

Hybrid technology is not a phrase often heard in the same breath as “luxury” and “high performance” autos. However, the new top-end Infiniti four-door M hybrid is bridging fuel economy with speed in a luxury vehicle.

The 3.5-liter V-6 coupled with an electric motor produces 360 net horsepower and is tied to a seven-speed automatic. With the push of a button, the driver can cause the transmission to shift quicker and the throttle response to increase (or the opposite for better fuel economy). Zero-to-60 time is a racecar-like 5.2 seconds.

The mileage is a city rating of 25 mpg and 32 mpg on the highway, resulting in a combined average of 29 mpg.

Leather interior and the usual array of the luxury appointments come standard, as does plenty of room in the back seat and trunk. In essence, this is gentle, gas sipping four-cylinder ride with the heart of a V-8.

NOT QUITE MINIMALIST

No one can accuse Mini of not bringing out new models. Starting with the two-door sedan with four seats, Mini has added a four-seat convertible, a three-door coupe and more recently a four-door small SUV with four-wheel drive.

This time around, there’s a return to focus on performance-with the introduction of a two-seat coupe, to be followed-up with a two-seat convertible.

As with most Minis, there are multiple choices in engine and options. Check the box for the “John Cooper Works” model (just over $30,000), and you’ll find a turbocharged 208-horsepower, four-cylinder powerplant tied to a six-speed stick shift. Seventeen-inch wheels and high performance tires with huge brakes, plus instant steering inputs results in rapid response for shooting in and out of (the quickly deteriorating Honolulu) traffic. Even with a zero-to-60 time of 6 seconds, fuel economy is 25 in the city and 33 on the highway. As the Mini folk like to say, “Let’s motor!”

THE SECRET’S OUT

Ecosse Moto Works might be the most significant, specialized motorcycle maker in the U.S. that you’ve never heard of. But that’s all about to change…

These custom, limited-run bikes are cast in premium materials like titanium, and when they sell out, they’re gone for good; adding not only prestige of ownership but exponential value to your two-wheeled investment.

Most recently, the Denver-based Ecosse has released its “FE XX Ti” line, a limited number of 10 bikes (one of which was designed specifically for the company’s founder/designer); from $125,000 to $300,000.

Bikes start at $79,000. ecossemoto.com