Little to complain about the new Porsche 911 – except its waist-cinching seats

Porsche 911 Carrera S

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 2016, 4:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2016, 9:14pm

I’m not a supermodel. Nor, however, am I a burger-laden fat boy, hence today’s memo to Dr Ferdinand Porsche: what’s with the waist-cinching seats in the new Porsche 911 Carrera S, Ferdy?

Perhaps German posteriors have slimmed (unlikely) since Ferdy first took a spanner to a slotted hex washer. But anyway, on the climb in, the bucket front seats in the new 911 seem kidney compromising to the extent that you believe your enjoyment of this thoroughbred beast may be in jeopardy.

Okay, so anyone used to doing all their motoring in a 14-year-old clunker is likely to find, when tossed the keys to wheeled lightning, that seat design has moved on with the rest of the world – not least in cars that have rallying pretensions. But “Are you sitting comfortably?” shouldn’t be a rhetorical question in a HK$2.46 million example of Stuttgart’s finest work.

And that’s pretty much it, rant almost over, because there’s little else about which to complain in this latest iteration of a car that has been in continual development since 1963. The last five years have given us 911s big on “intelligent lightweight construction”, which translates as “lots of aluminium” and otherwise it’s as you were – from the outside not a great deal appears to have changed recently.

Step around the back, however, and the 420hp Carrera is now turbocharged, its twin boosters giving the flat-six, three-litre (down from 3.4 litres) fuel-injected Boxer engine vital statistics of zero to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 307km/h. Redesigned air intakes, Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system, light alloy wheels, anti-roll control and of course a retractable, wing-inspired rear spoiler all ensure the Carrera S retains its racetrack pedigree – as does its throaty growl up to the redline at 7,500rpm.

Did we say HK$2.46 million? Don’t worry: that includes optional extras such as a front-axle lift system should you feel the urge to mount a kerb, rear-axle steering, parking-assist cameras, adaptive sports seats, Bose sound system and more. Trunk space doesn’t permit much beyond a couple of small suitcases, but if your choice of steed is a Carrera, your day job is hardly likely to be captain of a semi-mobile, wartime pillbox known as the “people carrier”.

Talking of which … most drivers, except perhaps those flying the colours of a rival marque, will cede the road to a Porsche 911 knowing they’re outclassed. Occasionally, however, the wheel-steerer of a Mitsubota Boring – one of those rectangular boxes that’s the perfect realisation of a car as drawn in kindergarten art class – will attempt a few ill-advised manoeuvres in order to feel better about himself.

Such nonsense may take place on, say, the tortuous Shek O Road while the Porsche is running through its formidable repertoire. At such times, the 911 demonstrates it has more zip than YKK and holds the road like a leech with separation anxiety.

There’s none of the old corners-like-a-swinging-pendulum griping with the youngest Porsche generations; no sacrificing ride quality for those rear-engine-inspired G forces. There’s still not much room in the back either, so your passengers had better not be claustrophobic or long of leg. And any ladies exiting the subsidiary seats should attend finishing school to learn to do so with decorum.

But I quibble. To some, the Porsche 911 will always be a supercar cliché. That teardrop profile beefing up into those muscular haunches render it an automotive Usain Bolt. Perhaps even an insane bolt when the heavy of foot switch to the seven-speed manual gearbox and give it some welly.

Ay, there’s the rub. Because in our compressed little world the 911 quickly runs into problems not of its own making. What passes for the open road in Hong Kong is soon clogged with the hoi polloi of the highway; and there’s scant pleasure to be derived from inching up The Peak behind a bus.

It’s the type of car that fills you with remorse at this city being so geographically small; the 911 will never genuinely stretch its legs here but is instead condemned to run round and round like a rat in a tin. So that’s that: I’m moving to Germany.