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I drove a 2005 911 Carrera S for the first time on Thursday the 26th of August. It was fairly optioned out, it had the sport suspension, PCCB, full leather, sports chrono pack and a bunch of other stuff. My dealer just received five of them and they asked if I'd like to drive it even though they already knew my answer because they just handed me the keys.

My first impression is that it looks so much nicer in person that it does in pictures. After washing your car so many times you know every curve of every panel on your 986 or 996. The panels of the 997 are slightly different, you can see it immediately when you look at it.

The interior is a lot nicer than I had imagined it from pictures. Sure there are lot of buttons but they aren't as difficult to figure out as some magazine journalists would like to make you think. The only thing you have to get used to is that when you change a station on the radio its the <- and -> buttons right above the volume knob instead of the other knob across from the volume knob that in the CDR23 and other similar radios. And once you learn that little trick its very easy to change stations because you don't have to take your fingers off the volume knob. Anyone that has had a Cayenne as a loaner when their car is in the shop will recognize the look and feel of the buttons.

The steering is more direct than the 986 or 996 and it filters out some of the stuff that doesn't necessarily add to the driving experience. I only had a little bit of seat time but it didn't seem to follow water damage cracks in the pavement that are typical of my area of Florida like earlier versions of the 911. It's got wonderful feedback, unlike some journalists that I've read about it seems that I didn't need any time to adapt to the supposedly new-fangled steering, it just made sense the moment I took my first turn.

There's a generous amount of torque available although the car I drove only had 50 miles on it, well, maybe more by the time you read this as other customers will have driven it. The engine will have more to give after it loosens up a bit, but I lugged it from about 1400 rpm in sixth gear and it pulled.

I took a few turns at speed to check out it's handling qualities, even though I didn't get it on the racetrack, it's obvious the car has a lot of traction with the 19" Michelins and the active suspension. The car takes a set and just digs in, even more so than the 996 which I've driven at Sebring and around backroads.

The 997 I drove had the PCCB which seem to take a little bit to heat up till they are fully effective, which is fine, that's good for the track. They don't have the immediate bite of my Brembo 355mm. I know I can brake hard at Sebring all day with my Brembos, I haven't tried any cars with the PCCB at the track yet though so I don't know how they would function in that situation.

The other thing that I had the distinct feeling about was that the interior as well as the exterior felt like a 21st century automobile. The shape of the dashboard, the interior door panels, the speaker panel shapes, the shifter knob, the display screen and the shape of the sheetmetal, they all give a sense of a car never seen before, yet at the same time it's a new interpretation of an old friend.

I immediately went for a spin in a 2000 996 about 10 mins after the 997 drive and it felt like old hat. The people that say it's a waste of time or that it isn't new enough haven't driven a Porsche for any length of time. I don't think Porsche dealer is going to have any problems moving any 997 they are able to get their hands on and instead are going to have a problem with a glut of pre-owned 996s that are trade-ins for a 997.

This isn't a bad thing because the rest of us know that a 996 makes a great track car for many reasons, one of them is that there is a very healthy aftermarket for 996 stuff to help them become better track cars. Now is a good time to see if your dealer has any 997 in stock so you can drive it and see if it suits you. It's a terrific automobile in every sense.


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