However, Porsche has gone through some unflattering days. There was a time when Porsche drivers where identified more by their gold chains and arrogant attitudes than by the prowess of the vehicle. Sports car enthusiasts around the world, along with Porsche, are thankful that those days are long gone. Fortunately, only good memories of earlier 911s remain.
Part of that change has come about because of the transformation within Porsche itself. Re-evaluating its place in the market and developing new manufacturing techniques has given Porsche a financial edge. And, not only are they known for producing fantastic performance automobiles, those vehicles are an equally good value in their respective classes. Perhaps nothing exemplifies this more than the 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera S.
The 2005 Porsche Carrera S model lineup is pretty simple. Available as either a coupe or a soft-top cabriolet, the only other distinction between models is whether you pick the six-speed manual or the five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Of course, there are numerous options available to personalize your Carrera S, but otherwise that sums it up for model designations.
Everything the 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera S Coupe can do the Cabriolet (convertible) can do just as well, except it can lower its power operated top to let the sun and wind become part of your driving experience. And today, the Carrera S is a better value than ever, featuring more standard equipment with virtually no increase in price.
Taking a cue from earlier 911s, the restyled 2005 Porsche Carrera S returns to oval headlamps with separate turn signal indicators placed below and close to the bumper. The front air inlets not only provide cooling air for the engine, but direct fresh air to the front brakes.
The front fender design is more prominent than before. From the driver’s seat, they appear as bulging frames for the steeply sloped hood while allowing the eye to flow directly to the road ahead. The exterior side mirror design is derived directly from Porsche’s super car, the Carrera GT, shaped to reduce a major source of wind noise, which on the 911 is non-existent until you reach high speed.
The interior is refined with firm, supportive seats aiding in the reduction of fatigue. The layout of the dash and instrument panel is typically old-school German, making it easy to negotiate through the individual controls – unlike a modern BMW or Benz. The trademark five-gauge instrument panel has larger needles and dials that are easier to read. And the switches and controls are easily manipulated.
Seating is cozy without feeling confining, yet able to hold you firmly in place even during very aggressive cornering. This is what a sports car should be, with the added benefits of comfort and luxury.
Nuts and Bolts
Reductions in interior noise allow you to appreciate the sweet sound of the engine, and oh does this Porsche engine make a sweet sound. The 2005 Porsche Carrera S is outfitted with a 3.8-liter, horizontally opposed (flat), six-cylinder engine that produces a generous 355 horsepower, 30 more than the standard Carrera, and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, an increase of 22 lb.-ft.
The six-speed manual transmission is fortifified to handle the increased power generated by the Carrera S’s engine. Redesigned for smoother gear selection, the transmission also gets a shorter throw shifter to make changing cogs crisper. Indeed, these changes make quick shifts a breeze.
If manually stirring a gearbox isn’t something you feel comfortable doing, Porsche offers its fabulous Tiptronic-equipped automatic transmission. Without a doubt, Porsche’s Tiptronic system is one of the best manually interactive transmissions available anywhere in the world. It is so good that Porsche has licensed various versions of this design to other auto manufacturers for use in their sporty vehicles.
Slowing the Porsche Carrera S down in a hurry are massive ventilated disc brakes that employ large Brembo calipers front and rear. There are a few so-called sports cars on the market that are fitted with less than stellar brakes, but Porsche would never do that. From its years of racing the company knows that you achieve only half your goal of building a superior sports car if you give it loads of power and no way to bring that performance under wraps.
Variable rate steering helps make the 2005 Porsche Carrera S easier to live with as a daily driver. For maneuvering in tight spaces or for parallel parking, the steering is light and easy to turn. Progress up through the gears to driving speeds, and the steering system reduces boost and produces excellent feedback from the road or the track.
Standard equipment also includes the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system. PASM automatically adjusts the suspension system to provide a comfortable ride when desired, and it fine-tunes itself to offer superior handling when needed.
During our test drive we were able to put the 2005 Porsche Carrera S Cabriolet through some demanding maneuvers on the racetrack at the California Speedway near Los Angeles. Without the disadvantages of other traffic and those pesky law enforcement types, we were able to push this Porsche hard without worry of receiving a paper gift from the California Highway Patrol.
As soon as you light fire to the rear-mounted six, you know you are in for a treat. Your pulse quickens and your nerves send warning to every hair on your body, demanding that they stand at attention. The rush of excitement flashes through your body; you are about to drive a powerful sports car at its limit, or perhaps more importantly, at your limit.
As we tossed the Carrera S through turn after turn we could easily see that it displayed minimal body roll and tracked extremely well. With every corner, the 911 Carrera S stayed in the selected groove ensuring the fastest route through each turn. Wide performance tires mounted on 19-inch forged alloy wheels contribute to this excellent performance.
Upon exiting turns, we applied full acceleration, reveling in the way the car hunkered down as it darted toward the next corner. Buckets of torque flowed to the pavement, firmly pushing us back into our seats were we remained until the next turn.
At the braking zone for each corner, the huge racing-inspired brakes brought the Porsche Carrera S down to a speed at which we could negotiate the turn. Then, we stomped on the accelerator, charging for the next turn to do it all over again. The 4.7-second 0-to-60 acceleration time Porsche claims for the 2005 Carrera S seems to be spot on.
On public roads, the Carrera S behaves much the same way if you like, but such driving behavior would attract unwanted attention from the police. As a daily driver, the Porsche Carrera S serves quite well the enthusiast who won’t mind a stiff ride. Naturally, the suspension is tuned toward performance at every level. And while “comfortable ride” is a relative term, the Porsche Carrera S can be driven for long periods of time without inducing fatigue. Combined with its impressive handling and performance, the cabin’s comfort levels make taking the alternative roads more enjoyable. In fact, behind the wheel of the 2005 Porsche Carrera S, you’re always compelled to take the long way home.
To drive any Porsche model conjures up a flood of emotions. It is exhilarating yet a little bit scary, fun and exciting and way cool. It can be an exercise in extending your limits, or at least your perception of your limits. Today’s Porsche 911 isn’t as unpredictable as it once was, thanks to advanced engineering and the development of electronic stability control. Better design and new technology have helped make drivers at all levels of ability feel more confident behind the wheel of every Porsche model.
The 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera S is proof that this German car builder continues to engineer and design some of the best sports cars in the world, and with each passing model year the company seems to make great strides in creating compelling value. That may sound ludicrous when discussing $80,000 vehicles, but it is a consideration no matter how much money you have to spend. Looking back less than a decade, you would pay far more for far less. Dollar for dollar, today’s Porsche Carrera S is better equipped and more reasonably priced than ever.
But, value isn’t the reason you buy the Carrera S. You buy this car because you love the adventure of the drive. To take the road less traveled simply for the thrill of it. The Porsche experience isn’t getting from point A to point B. It is the journey between.
Test Vehicle: 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet
Base Price: $89,665 (including $765 destination charge)
Engine Size and Type: 3.8-liter horizontally-opposed six-cylinder
Engine Horsepower: 355 at 6,600 rpm
Engine Torque: 295 at 4,600 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Curb weight, lbs.: 3,131 pounds
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 18/26 mpg
Length: 175.6 inches
Width: 71.2 inches
Wheelbase: 92.5 inches
Height: 51.2 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: 2
Max. Cargo Volume: 4.75 cubic feet
Competitors: Acura NSX, BMW 6 Series, Cadillac XLR, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper SRT-10, Jaguar XKR, Lotus Elise, Maserati coupe, Maserati Spyder, Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG, Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Panoz Esperante, Saleen S281-E
Photos courtesy of Porsche cars North America