2009 Porsche 911

Mark Bramley

Its looks haven't changed much over forty years, but it's the subtle improvements that make each new 911 so great. And if you still haven't driven one after all this time, you're probably one of those misguided souls who think the horizontally opposed, shoved-up-the-wazoo engine makes the 911 nothing more than an overhyped, overpriced VW Beetle derivative.

But you're wrong. Drive a 911, and you'll want to buy it. If you can't afford a new one, get a used one. It'll fit the bill just fine until this 2009 model comes down in price. Because this is the 911 you really want.

We were a little worried that Porsche would finally mess up its biggest success story. After all, pretty much everyone agrees that there wasn't anything wrong with the current 911. But just like they've done repeatedly over the last five decades, the Weissach wizards have made the 911 even better.

The updated 911 is still referred to internally as the 997, and outwardly, it's simply a midcycle face-lift. No modifications have been made to the steel body panels, just minor changes to the front and rear fascias. Updated bixenon headlights now can be ordered with the ability to swivel. A revised front bumper houses en vogue LED daytime running lights and provides significantly better cooling, eliminating the need for a center radiator. The taillights are now pointier at their edges and dip slightly into the bumper fascia, giving the car a somewhat drowsy look from behind. But that's only until they're illuminated, because the sixty LEDs in each taillight are retina-searingly bright.

Inside, the 5.8-inch LCD screen on the center console has been replaced by a new touch screen measuring 6.5 inches. This third generation of PCM (Porsche Communication Management) combines all audio and navigation functions and features full iPod integration, as well as a USB jack and auxiliary input. The system is far easier to use than the old dial-driven setup and has a simple and logical menu structure. Our test car also had an optional Bose stereo that sounds great, although its subwoofer occupies an unfortunate amount of space in the passenger footwell. To ensure that the 911 remains an everyday sports car even in extreme climates, seat coolers (in addition to steering wheel and seat heaters) are now offered. The coolers work quickly and effectively, although the fans do make more noise than those in other high-end vehicles.

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