You know, there’s not much you can say about Porsche’s 911 Carrera that hasn’t been said before. It’s fast, it’s sexy, and highly desirable. But while the accolades may be well worn and cliched, you can’t say the same for the car itself. Because thankfully, Porsche isn’t the kind of company to sit back and bask in the afterglow. And that’s why the 911 keeps getting better and better. So how much better is this new 2002 911 Carrera? Why don’t you join us for a few fast laps and find out?

Fast laps around one of our favorite race tracks, Georgia’s challenging Roebling Road Raceway , that’s where we took this 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera, to find out how much of a difference the latest changes bring to this benchmark sports car. And things are different, from the outside to the inside. The changes start up front, with a reshaped nose, and new hi-low beam Bi-Xenon HID headlamps courtesy of the 911 Turbo.

The new front end, besides looking less like the Boxster, provides more efficient airflow to keep the radiator, brakes and transmission cooler. Porsche designers also morphed the rear end, widening the quarter panels, and fixing oval exhaust pipes, adding still more of the flavor of the 911 Turbo. New slender designed 17-inch rims are standard, while the now lighter 18-inch alloys are an option.

Inside, the Carrera features a new 3-spoke steering wheel, and a modified IP, also borrowed from the Turbo. Along with that dash comes a new gauge package, that includes a readout for a multi- function trip-and-diagnostic computer, as well as a new optional audio choice, a superb 12- speaker digital system from Bose.

But the most significant changes are not on the exterior, or even the interior, but much deeper. The 2002 Carrera rides on a strengthened body structure, which adds rigidity to the already stout 911 chassis, and is powered by an enlarged 3.6-liter version of their now familiar dual-overhead-cam 24-valve flat-6 ‘‘boxer’’ water-cooled engine. It now makes 320 horsepower, an increase of 20 horses, and 15 more pound-feet of torque, for a total of 273.

Besides a new dual-stage intake, crank, pistons, and rods, Porsche has added its Variocam Plus system, which continuously adjusts valve timing and lift and duration to both smooth and boost the torque curve. Transmission choices are a beefed up version of last year’s excellent 6-speed manual, and a more robust 5-speed Tiptronic automatic borrowed from the 911 Turbo.

With the larger engine and manual, our test car hit 60 in 5.0-seconds flat. That’s 2-tenths- of-a-second faster than last year’s 911. The 1/4 mile ended in 13.5 seconds, at 107 miles-per- hour. The increased power and updated engine controls are especially noticeable when exiting fast corners. The power builds quicker with a more linear feel. There are no steps in the powerband, just a steady flow all the way to the redline. Engine characteristics that this year’s even lighter, more precise, manual shifter allows you to fully exploit.

The 911’s MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension features revised shock damping to cope with more power, as well. PSM, the Porsche Stability Management system, is now an even more recommended option. On the track, our drivers initially reported a slight increase in front end push when entering corners. The hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering also felt a little softer than before. Once settled in, however, our crew sang the praises of the latest 911’s even more balanced feel and improved grip. And as the laps rolled by, spoke of establishing a strong connection with a car that, despite its formidable performance, remains easy to drive at high speed. Some did, however, choose to turn the PSM system off, feeling that it kicked in too early and didn’t allow them to push the car as hard as earlier models.

Porsche has long been praised for the quality of its braking systems, and the 2002 911 continues that tradition with 4-wheel ABS-equipped discs derived from the company’s GT1 race car. Unfortunately, our test car’s stoppers were well worn from previous track tests, delivering somewhat longish, for Porsche anyway, stops of 118 feet from 60, with an uncharacteristic vibration in the brake pedal.

Still, the sum of the changes made to the 911 result in an even more impressive sports car. Which carries an impressive price tag of $67,900. Now, that’s before you add options like the Bose sound system, 6-disc CD changer, and HID headlights, which boost the price to $71,140. And for that not insignificant sum you get a 2002 Porsche 911 that is even faster, sexier, and yes, while we really didn’t think it was possible, even more desirable than before. This is one benchmark that continues to run away from the pack!


  • Engine: 3.6-Liter Dohc 24-valve Flat-6
  • Horsepower: 320
  • Torque: 273 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 5 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.5 Seconds @ 107 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 118 Feet
  • EPA Mileage: 18 MPG City 26 MPG Highway