Even though the 911S feels neat, nimble, and as wieldy as a pocketknife, it's less involving than before. In some respects, the 911 may be evolving too close to perfection.
The one bug in an otherwise scrumptious soup is how the Porsche behaves at the fringes of its cornering grip. The 911S shows excessive understeer, requiring massive throttle lifts to revector the nose when it starts pushing toward the outside verge. But the back end lets go so abruptly that you have to jab the throttle immediately to tuck the nose back on line. This Porsche won't abide a smooth, stable power slide.
Sliding is the Corvette's specialty. The Z51's competitive driving mode tolerates remarkably large drift angles before the electronic nannies rein you in. The Corvette's steering has more heft than the 911's, and it commands a very faithful dynamic response, though reactions are slightly slower-witted.
After mild initial understeer, you can balance this car on the throttle like a ballerina. The Corvette slides comfortably (with the stability system disabled) through 80-mph sweepers. Lift in the middle of a bend, and the nose bites, but always in a controllable way. In spite of what the stopwatch says, the Corvette feels quicker because it's so manageable and predictable.
We wish the seats were as supportive as the Porsche's and the quality of the interior furnishings met a higher standard. The feel and power of the brakes are also a notch below the 911's. After half a dozen laps of the circuit, they were ready for a breather.
So the Corvette returned every volley the 911S fired its way. Some of the 2.3-second advantage the Chevy scored racing to 140 mph the Porsche won back at the Lutzring. But by any meaningful measure, the two are performance equals.
Even though the 911S is sheer joy on wheels, the Corvette also plays its power advantage like a pro to seize the fun-to-drive marbles. Factor in the BMW you could buy with the $33,000 price difference and the sex appeal of alfresco driving on a balmy day, and the Corvette takes that final ritual step up to the supercar throne.
But don't count on a long reign. In a few months, we'll be back at the Lutzring to see if the forthcoming Corvette Z06 can fend off the attack of Porsche's new 911 Turbo.