Through countless iterations, the Porsche 911 has remained a pure driver’s car, and we’ve found that to judge the full measure of each 911 redo you have to double up with ample time on the track as well as the street. So we’ve come to our southern testing ground, Georgia’s Roebling Road Raceway, to see what’s been done to the latest 911 to make it even more memorable.

The forever-young 911 could be called the Peter Pan of sports cars, with a body that never appears old but with continuous changes inside that makes it grow wiser and wily-er with each passing year.

And for 2009, Porsche has introduced a host of refinements to help its iconic sports car stay one step ahead of the competition. 

As expected, 911 engines receive a power increase.  Our test Carrera S still carries a 3.8 liter flat six, but the design is all new and shares no parts with the old engine.  Horsepower bumps up to 385, 30 more than before, and 310 pound-feet, a 5 percent increase. 

Direct Fuel injection and Porsche’s VarioCam variable valve timing help things run efficiently.  The standard 911 Carrera gets its motivation from an also new 3.6 liter flat-6 providing 345 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque. 

But, more important is the debut of a new 7-speed double-clutch transmission option in place of the Tiptronic S.  It stands for PDK, which in German means something we can barely spell, much less pronounce! But after driving the car, we might suggest a more familiar acronym: PDQ!

Anyway, like other direct shift twin clutch gearboxes, the PDK system has two multi-plate wet clutch packs, each controlling the odd or even gears, so the next gear is already selected and ready to go when needed. 

Automatic gear changes happen up to 60 percent quicker than the Tiptronic with no interruption in power delivery.  Drivers can still choose to shift for themselves, but the gearbox is so intuitive, it’s really not necessary.  And that’s just as well, since our drivers universally disliked the steering-wheel-mounted shift rocker switches. 

Our car came equipped with the optional Sport Chrono package, which adds a super aggressive shift profile for track driving as well as launch mode for optimum off-the-line performance.

With it, and despite a freezing track day, our 911 Carrera S still rocketed to 60 in 4 seconds flat, a feat unattainable with the standard 6-speed manual.  The quarter-mile passed in a quick 12.4 seconds at 117 miles-per-hour.  Keep in mind; those were good numbers for a 911 Turbo not so many years ago.

And out lapping the nine curves at Roebling Road Raceway, you might think you were driving that older 911 Turbo too.

Another timeless feature of the 911 continued here is its superb feel for the road.  Variable ratio steering and standard active suspension management enhance the operation of what is simply a well-designed chassis by actually adjusting to the drivers’ style, getting firmer as speeds increase.

The rear end will swing out if pushed hard, but as before, Porsche’s PSM stability control system comes on to save the day at the last moment, so we gratefully left it activated.

The front end displays little tendency to under steer unless driven very hard into tight corners.  Overall the 911 Carrera S is well-balanced and a kick to drive fast, and slowing from fast speeds is easier now thanks to upgraded monobloc 4-piston brake calipers borrowed from the Turbo. All four rotors are now cross-drilled, vented and 13-inches in diameter.  Stopping distances from 60 are a short 112 feet.

Lighter wheels carry distinctive new designs.  Standard on the Carrera S are 19-inchers wearing 235/35 tires up front and wider 295/30s out back.

Styling is merely tweaked for the 2009 911’s, and as always at Porsche, form follows function.  Larger front air intakes means better cooling for the revised brakes. 

A restyled headlight module clusters the lighting more efficiently and now includes LED daytime driving lights.  LEDs are also used in the brake lights and tail lamps.  Larger side mirrors with split posts improve the aero.

Interior updates are minor, too and include a redesigned center stack and console to house the larger but simplified touch screen audio and communications system.  Ventilated seats are now available too.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 911 Carrera S are now higher, a respectable 19 city and 26 on the highway, meaning no gas guzzler tax. 

Pricing for the 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera S starts at $87,150. Our Porsche racing green tester rang up at an eye-opening $106,730.  That’s a lot of pixie dust, but if you’re dreaming of a pure, delightful sports car for the “lost boy” inside you, the Porsche 911 remains one of the brightest stars in the automotive galaxy.

The 2009 Carrera and Carrera S are benchmark performance cars that defy the laws of time. While we have never stopped being amazed that Porsche continues to breathe new life into each new 911, we hope to never stop being surprised by it.



  • Engine: 3.8 Liter Flat Six
  • Horsepower: 385
  • Torque: 310 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 4.0 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 12.4 Seconds @ 117 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 112 Feet
  • EPA: 19 MPG City/ 26 MPG Highway