The Road - The Autobahn
Touring the German origins of an icon.
2012 Porsche 911 Carrera VIDEO
Fast driving at the Ring is a real test of talent. Fast driving on the autobahn—with traffic of vastly varying speeds and fellow drivers of vastly varying abilities, notorious congestion, extremes of weather, and the myriad other complexities of any public highway system—is sometimes an even harder test. It can be the biggest challenge a driver ever experiences, and the biggest satisfaction.
Likewise, it’s a unique challenge for an automobile. Leading the autobahn pack takes a car of tremendous pace, and it must also be as solid and stable at 150 mph as it is at 50, as well as comfortable and relaxed going flat-out all day long, not just on the odd frenzied dash. When Porsche wanted to measure the new 911 against the tough, unforgiving “real world,” this is where the company did it, and on the final leg of our Porsche pilgrimage, so will we.
It isn’t long before the real world asserts itself, either; traffic leaving town is crawling today, and the most rewarding part of the early journey is the lovely three-setting seat heater. Urban autobahns are actually much the same as their boring American counterparts, and a 911 with all the creature comforts is a godsend. Things turn serious, though, at the first unlimited zone; traffic hasn’t noticeably thinned, but suddenly, the fast lane is a drag strip anyway, and the price of entry is well above 100. The only opening the mirrors show among the oncoming cars is approaching quickly, too, so it’s a snap downshift, a nervous gulp, and into the gap we go.
In what seems like an eye blink, the speedo rushes farther past 100 than it’s wise to watch, and still the Porsche feels as planted and certain as it did cruising in daily-commuter mode at 70. It gradually also becomes obvious it’s going to stay that way. Increase the speed, and the suspension just soaks up the surface and holds tight; stab the brakes, and like a true 911, it pulls up short and sure; keep your foot down on the long sweeping turns, and it tracks with superbly reassuring precision and feedback.
After a while, you notice you’re not nervous anymore, merely focused and involved. Then you notice how far you’ve traveled, that you haven’t been passed in ages, that the better part of the morning has flown by, and that the return trip should begin soon. But maybe there’s time for another few miles first. The pilgrimage has been everything you wanted it to be, and the new 911 has been even more than you could have wished for, and an ending like this is something that deserves to be savored straight to the last second.