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      06-27-2011, 10:48 PM   #1
nirvanayoda
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Test drove a 2012 Porsche 911S over the weekend, surprised the M3 held up

After I bought my M3 back in early April (and subsequently started complaining about the lack of engine torque as most former modded 335i owners do), I had buyers remorse that I didn't even test drive a Porsche. I decided over the weekend while I was out of town to check out a loaded new C2S (sticker $110k). I went in willing to trade in and lose money if the 911 was just a much better car, but the only thing that was clearly better was the Porsche PDK transmission.

Handling: I only got 20 minutes with the 911, but the roads were reasonably wide open and curvy, so I got a good feel for the car. It had a much different feel from the M3, and I just didn't feel as in control of the car. Perhaps that had a lot to do with what I'm used to (front engine versus engine weight in back), but the M3 seems to handle better. That's not to say the Porsche is a slacker, it's not. M3 win.

Power/Acceleration: I floored it several times and the dealer did launch control for me. The acceleration "feel" was very comparable to the M3 and neither car is nearly as fun as the Dinan Stage 3 was in terms of engine torque knocking you back into the seat. Still, both are fun, fast cars. Draw.

Transmission: The PDK is much better than the DCT in my mind. The thing about PDK that immediately struck me was that although it would hold a gear until you shift it yourself, whenever you floor it, it automatically downshifts for you. The DCT does not automatically downshift for you, and coming from an automatic, I find myself sometimes in situations where I mean to accelerate quickly, but I forget to downshift and I end up going very slow in 6th gear or something. Perhaps more time in the M3 will cure this, but I loved that aspect about the PDK

Moreover, the PDK will upshift for you automatically if you hit the rev limiter instead of bouncing off the limiter like the DCT does. The transmission makes the Porsche much easier to drive to its limits acceleration wise. My friend who came with me said that he prefers that it takes more skill to drive the M3, but I much preferred the PDK. 911s win.

Looks/Prestige: The Porsche 911 is a sexy car, and, honestly, as much as I love the looks of the M3, the Porsche is nicer and less common (at least when compared to the number of 328i cars running around that people can't seem to distinguish from the M3). 911s win.

Space/storage/seating: I used to think the entire hood of the 911 was a trunk. As it turns out, only a small portion of it is available for storage. When I say there is almost no storage, I mean it. As a daily driver, the 911 would be woefully inadequate for grocery runs or carrying luggage (though you could probably fit one small suitcase in the "trunk", you'd probably have to put anything more in the backseat). Contrast that with seemingly endless storage space in the M3.

The other issue with the 911 is the seating room inside the vehicle. The back seats are even less useful than my 2000 Honda Prelude was, and that's saying a lot. The M3 has sat a 5'10 friend and a 6'3 friend comfortably on the same side. The only thing that the 911 wins in this category with is that I like the "feel" of the smaller car and it was lower to the ground. M3 win.

Amenities/technology: I didn't really get to play with the navigation much, but I can't imagine it's any worse than I-drive. The audio was by Bose if I recall, which is a huge negative next to the EPS in the M3. The inside of the Porsche was nicer, but the timing gauge seemed kind of silly. I also prefer the leather in the M3 (although the Porsche leather was nicer than the standard 335i leather) and the thicker steering wheel in the M3. Draw.

Conclusion: Overall, the M3 is just so versatile and has so much going for it, that it would be tough to swallow to pay so much more for the 911s at this point. The Porsche dealer was extremely classy and did not try to low ball me on my car (they offered me $63k, which hurts given that I bought it for $76k three months ago, but that's to be expected on a new car...at least they didn't offer me auction value). I may save up and try to buy a 911 turbo in a couple of years when the new one comes out, and if I do, I will likely buy from that dealer. I suspect the 911 turbo would be a substantial bump up in performance versus the minor bump the C2S seemed to be.

I have to say it one more time, though -- the PDK was incredible.

Last edited by nirvanayoda; 07-05-2011 at 01:33 PM. Reason: changed "useless" to "useful" to correct meaning.
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      06-27-2011, 11:06 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shift@red View Post


Carrera S is in a different league performance and handling wise vs the M3.
My impressions were different. I thought I was being pretty fair, actually. As far as handling goes, maybe that's a matter of getting used to the car and/or being scared of wrecking a new $110k car, but the M3 felt easier to control.
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      06-27-2011, 11:10 PM   #3
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In all honesty though, good comparo and glad you preferred the M3 in the end.
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Use the stick like u would a manual. If that doesn't work, put it in D mode and put both hands at 10 and 2. If that doesn't work, just sit on your right hand.
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      06-27-2011, 11:22 PM   #4
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The 911 makes the M3 cry like a baby....
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      06-27-2011, 11:24 PM   #5
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Huh, I have a 6MT, but what I LOVE about the DCT is that it's just like a manual when in "manual" mode. Leave it in 5th and floor it, it'll stay in 5th. Hit the rev limited in 5th, it'll keep bouncing off of it. Just like in a regular 3-pedal manual. I had a GTI with DSG and absolutely hated that it would upshift and downshift for you when in manual mode. This was problematic especially on the track. In my mind, BMW's DCT is doing it 100% right.
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      06-27-2011, 11:42 PM   #6
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They are totally different cars, good job comparing apples vs oranges.
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      06-28-2011, 01:12 AM   #7
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geez, normally I try to be nice, but you just fail at 911s. Glad you didn't get one, because clearly you would have been miserable in it, given that you couldn't recognize any of the good qualities! and, you picked the WORST of the qualities to like... PDK is a mess. It is designed to perform like an automatic transmission. The shift directions are wrong, on the console.

Ok, I'll stop. Glad you enjoy the M3!
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      06-28-2011, 01:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piloto View Post
Huh, I have a 6MT, but what I LOVE about the DCT is that it's just like a manual when in "manual" mode. Leave it in 5th and floor it, it'll stay in 5th. Hit the rev limited in 5th, it'll keep bouncing off of it. Just like in a regular 3-pedal manual. I had a GTI with DSG and absolutely hated that it would upshift and downshift for you when in manual mode. This was problematic especially on the track. In my mind, BMW's DCT is doing it 100% right.
Agreed. The OP's description of PDK sound more like things I would be complaining about...
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      06-28-2011, 01:37 AM   #9
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WTF?! Why is everyone ripping on the op. relax guys and cut him some slack. It was the first time he sat in a p car and it didn't wow him. It is all good. W/e

I personally love PDK. It shifts so much more smoothly than dct or smg. PDK shifts very smoothly. the software always finds the perfect gear for you. If you do buy a turbo, be prepared to take a huge hit in depreciation. My dad paid so much and now it is barely worth 100k.

To me, I like the lighter feel of the c2s and it handles better than the m3. It just requires a lot of skill to handle the rear engine platform, which is something that many people never fully develop.

I would just wait for the 991. bump in hp and less weight. only thing that worries me is the electronic steering...

Last edited by crackberry; 06-28-2011 at 02:40 PM.
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      06-28-2011, 01:52 AM   #10
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If I had to choose a wet sumper 911 vs the M3, I will take the M3 every time.

The OP test drove the wrong Porsche.

Go drive a proper 911 with proper 911 dry sump engine, the GT2 or the GT3. Your eyes will open and the clouds will part, and you will forget about the M3.

Regular 911's with that cheap bored out Coxster POS wet sumper engine is the biggest ripoff that offers mediocre driving experience.

Oh, you couldn't get PDK in real 911's because real 911's use the racing GT1 block that is not Direct Injection (the basic dry sump block design is decades old), and is incompatible with the required PDK DME interface. That is why they put a cheap POS engine in 997.2 Turbo, so they can put PDK in it.

Bottom line, non GT 911's vs M3, M3 wins.
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      06-28-2011, 02:40 AM   #11
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M3 > C2S in my book.

Different story for Turbo version though.
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      06-28-2011, 02:55 AM   #12
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I had a C2S gen2 for a day and drove it back to back against my M3 and I sort of agree with the OP except:
Handling, on smooth roads the 911 wins but on uneven roads the M3 wins.
Power/acceleration, the 911 has the edge but nothing you are going to lose sleep lusting after.
Transmission, the DCT is the better transmission IMO in all areas.
In all the 911 is a great car and if they were similarly priced it would be a no brainer but at the price premium the Porsche sells for?
It makes the M3 look like a proper bargain.
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      06-28-2011, 03:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nirvanayoda View Post

Transmission: The PDK is much better than the DCT in my mind. The thing about PDK that immediately struck me was that although it would hold a gear until you shift it yourself, whenever you floor it, it automatically downshifts for you. The DCT does not automatically downshift for you, and coming from an automatic, I find myself sometimes in situations where I mean to accelerate quickly, but I forget to downshift and I end up going very slow in 6th gear or something. Perhaps more time in the M3 will cure this, but I loved that aspect about the PDK I much preferred the PDK. 911s win.
What the?!?! Are you serious?

If you keep forgetting what gear you're in, you either need to practice more or just leave it in D mode. Also, if you hold down the downshift and floor the pedal (make sure to feel the "click") it'll immediately drop to the optimum gear to accelerate. Finally, DCT does downshift for you...that is it'll downshift for you to avoid stalling the car.

I guess this is one of the moments where it comes in handy to know how to drive a manual before jumping over to DCT.
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      06-28-2011, 04:46 AM   #14
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M3 all day long. Not a big fan of P car, especially the look of it
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      06-28-2011, 05:28 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piloto View Post
Huh, I have a 6MT, but what I LOVE about the DCT is that it's just like a manual when in "manual" mode. Leave it in 5th and floor it, it'll stay in 5th. Hit the rev limited in 5th, it'll keep bouncing off of it. Just like in a regular 3-pedal manual. I had a GTI with DSG and absolutely hated that it would upshift and downshift for you when in manual mode. This was problematic especially on the track. In my mind, BMW's DCT is doing it 100% right.
I agree. I haven't driven the PDK transmission, but based on the description, it would drive me nuts. I got the DCT for my M3 specifically for track days. If I wanted my M3 to just be a sporty car for tooling around town, I would have gotten the manual transmission. But for the track I want the best of both worlds--true control over the transmission like a regular manual, but DCT-specific lightning-quick shifting with no need to worry about proper execution of heel-and-toeing. (Not looking to start yet another 6MT vs DCT thread.) Since I'm still a novice at the track, I want to really focus on smoothness of throttle and braking, learning the proper line, learning proper "vision," learning trail-braking, etc. After I feel really comfortable with that, I might move to a manual and work on heel-toe. The point, though, is that on a track I would find it very disruptive to have the car shifting up and down for me when I don't want it to.

Thanks for taking the time to put in a well-written review. While some responders seem grumpy, I for one appreciate what you wrote. I have only driven a non-S 997 manual at a Skip Barber school, but I've been curious how different the Carrera S feels. Interestingly, most of the instructors (many former pro racers) at Skip Barber preferred the DCT M3 to the manual 911 when I was there. I'm sure the GT3 would have been a different story, though...

Finally, why are we so often in attack mode on the forum? That's the beauty of a message board--things are indexed and arranged so you can easily scroll through all the threads without needing to read all of them. So if you're a board veteran and have seen a similar thread before, don't waste your time reading the new one. There are many different discussions going on at once. Pick the ones you have interest in and move on instead of attacking others. Okay, maybe we should ban the "Which color should I get?"posts...
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      06-28-2011, 05:44 AM   #16
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6MT P car > M3 DCT > PDK P car
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      06-28-2011, 07:24 AM   #17
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I have never driven a 911 and I enjoyed your comparo, thanks
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      06-28-2011, 07:52 AM   #18
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I'll take an M3 over a Carrera or Carrera S any day.

Having said that:

GT3>M3>Carrera

If you are going to upgrade to a Porsche and get rid of the M3, might as well go for a Gt3. However, if you have a GT3, you will probably need another car. So the best car combo IMO, is a GT3 and an M3.

Personally, as soon as I pay off my M3, I am keeping it and getting a GT3. To me going from an m3 to a Carrera or Carrera S doesn't make much sense and is mostly a product of "Grass is Greener" syndrome for many.

Honestly, I like the Coxster Spyder and Cayman S a little more than a regular Carrera. Although I haven't test driven a Cayman R, I can say that the Coxster Spyder is probably more hardcore and purer in terms of a sports car than the regular Carrera is; The Cayman R probably is too.

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      06-28-2011, 08:09 AM   #19
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For another $15k I'd go for an '06 F430.
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      06-28-2011, 08:20 AM   #20
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everyone here ripping on the Thread Starter, as if all of you are experts, LOL


It was HIS EXPERIENCE, his opinion, and his likes/dislikes on both cars....much like he seems to love his 335 Dinan stg3 more than his current M3.

that's all that matters!


having said that, I do agree that the TS does not have a good grasp on Porsches yet, because they are phenomenal cars inside out. A "POS dry hump" 997.2 Carrera S I raced on the track raped any time (and fun factor) I've ever made on the M3.... P cars were made to be driven at the track....hard!
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      06-28-2011, 08:49 AM   #21
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Weird. My mom has the panamera 4s with PDK. That tranny is garbage compared to my DCT. Also if your in automatic mode in DCT it downshifts for you when you hit the brake.
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      06-28-2011, 09:14 AM   #22
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Agreed with the OP, I drove a C2S recently and came away more impressed with the M3 than ever. I would love to own a 911 as a 2nd or 3rd car but if I have to pick one or the other, it's the M3 every time.
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