Downside: With the exception of private racetracks, there is no place in America to drive the 911 Carrera and Carrera S the way they could and should be driven, where their considerable collective automotive prowess would be reduced to an endless exercise in driver frustration. Also, there are the worthless rear seats.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Superior in every respect, and that isn't hyperbole. If you can find any car that handles and drives as well as these two super-sophisticated hot rods, buy it.
Head-turning quotient: The classic 911 round headlamps are back. So is the muscular rear end. Nice headlamps, tight waistline, great backside, heck! If you can see, you've got to look.
Body style/layout: The 2005 911 Carrera and Carrera S are two-door, two-seat, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupes expressly engineered and designed for spirited motoring. The new models are wider in the rear but have an overall shorter length than their predecessors. Interior materials and layout are now top-grade luxury.
Engines/transmissions: The base 911 gets the water-cooled 3.6 horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine with a maximum 325 horsepower and 273 foot-pounds of torque. The Carrera S gets the water-cooled 3.8 flat-six with a maximum 355 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. The Tiptronic S automatic, which also can be operated manually, is available as an option.
Capacities: The 911 Carrera and Carrera S seat two people comfortably. The rear seats are for very short people with lots of patience. Maximum luggage capacity is 4.76 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 16.9 gallons of required premium unleaded gasoline, meaning 91 octane or higher.
Mileage: Real-world mileage in highway driving was 25 miles per gallon in the base 911 Carrera and 23 mpg in the 911 Carrera S.
Safety: Traction- and stability-control systems. Anti-lock brakes. Unique head bags mounted beneath the side windows.
Price: The new 911 cars go on sale in the United States Aug. 28. The base 911 Carrera will start at $69,300. The Carrera S will start at $79,100. Beware of options on these two cars. The extras can blow even a luxury car budget.