Dancing on Mulholland - 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Long-Term Road Test

2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Long-Term Road Test

2013 Porsche 911: Dancing on Mulholland

March 25, 2013

2013 Porsche 911

The fact that we bought a standard Porsche 911 convertible with an automatic transmission and heavy 20-inch wheels has caused a few of my hardcore pals to snicker at its girliness. They, of course, tell me we should have bought a 911 S Coupe with three pedals. You know, the "manly version" of Porsche's signature sports car.

A quick blast on the Mulholland Hwy., however, the most famous mountain road in the world, shuts them right up.

You see, our "girly" Porsche 911 is still stupid fast in the hills. In fact, it's faster in the hills than 99% of my friends are able to drive it. And it'll go faster than any of us should really drive on the street.

A few Sunday's ago I proved my point when a long-time friend began spouting about our 911 being a good car for his mom. "Maybe I'll buy it for her when you sell it off next December," he joked. "It'll be a good replacement for her Camry Solara."

He would soon regret it. I took a hard right off Pacific Coast Highway up Los Floras and began driving the 911 like Ferry intended. With the Porsche's PDK transmission in manual mode I was revving out each gear and making full use of its paddle shifters. Second and third gear mostly, with the occasional click up to fourth.

The harder you drive it the better it feels. Its 3.6-liter flat-six isn't a torque monster around town, but keep it over 3,500 rpm in the hills and the 911 storms from corner to corner, and with the top down the soundtrack from the rear mounted motor will give you goose bumps.

But it's the Porsche 911's brakes and grip that really impress. Overheating the brakes seems impossible and even rough patches in the pavement don't upset the chassis.

Few cars can run with a new 911 in the hills. Sure, there are cars with more power and more performance potential than our Porsche, but few allow the driver to access that potential so completely. I guarantee you that if a guy in a new Viper tried to keep up he'd be off the road almost immediately.

After a few miles my friend was already eating his words. And by the time we had reached the famous Mulholland Hwy., he was begging me to slow down.

On the way home I bought him an ice cold Zima to calm his nerves.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief


  • jederino jederino Posts:

    Nice example of how the 911 comes into its own in the hills. Is this car a little sedate when cruising around town - is that part of the criticism? And that it only comes alive when you take it to extra-legal speeds?

  • spdracerut_ spdracerut_ Posts:

    So Scott.... do you think you would have liked the button shifters just as much as the paddle shifters up in the canyons?

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    "I guarantee you that if a guy in a new Viper tried to keep up he'd be off the road almost immediately." You can make no such guarantee.

  • spdracerut_ spdracerut_ Posts:

    fordson1, I will actually back up Scott's statement. I know the roads well he traveled. And especially Las Flores, which is comprised of 20-25mph (10-15 if you drive like a sane person) 90-120 degree turns with lots of elevation changes in very short distances on a narrow two-lane road. I suppose if the Viper took up both lanes, it could keep pace, but asking it to not cross the double yellow would surely slow it down as the car is quite wide. Aside from the width issue of the Viper, the torque is of absolutely no value on these roads as the corners are such low speed due to how tight they are.

  • coxwill_ coxwill_ Posts:

    They still make Zima?

  • noburgers_ noburgers_ Posts:

    Other than the too-large wheels (for my taste) it sounds like a great ride, and I could probably get used to the id of the trans in no time. I assume that the Viper comparo would be a different story when it comes to wide-open roads.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    The Viper is 5 inches wider - so that's 2.5 inches wider on either side. It's not a motor home. And exiting out of low-speed corners favors cars with...low-end torque. Really, this is a base-model 911 - not an S. A Viper has a lot more lateral grip, about 300 more hp, and a new one comes with T/C, stability control, etc. and weighs about the same as the 911. It's a different class of car. The idea that a Viper is some huge and unwieldy beast that can't handle tight-radius curves is hype.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    I get what you're saying in this article, but would YOU have had more fun if you were driving a standard?

  • spdracerut_ spdracerut_ Posts:

    fordson1, have you driven these roads? I have. Many times. In my S2000, Evo, and CBR 600RR. The road is tight, narrow, and minimal straights. I can't even go full throttle in the S2k on NT01 tires on many sections as the rear will step out; in case you can't read between the lines, that's a torqueless car with near R-compound tires. Oh, and my buddy in his Carrera 4S on equal tires couldn't keep up in the corners. Did I mention the road is narrow? With my S2000, I'd say I have only 1-2ft of extra road width, or 1/2 to 1ft per side and my car is 3.5" narrower per side, 7" total than the Viper. 3.5" eats a lot into the 6" per side. FYI, while I have not driven a Viper, I have driven a C6 Vette which is also pretty wide. One of the fastest cars I've ever seen up here was a Miata because it's small, nimble, and have high cornering grip. It's amusing to see a group of Lambos trying to navigate these roads as they barely fit. The road is very flowly in nature which eliminates power as an advantage. It's all about cornering grip which is why the Miata is so fast on these roads. Go ahead, look up Las Flores Canyon Road in Malibu and then head north onto Piuma. The torque of a Viper is a liability up here, not an asset.

  • eclogite eclogite Posts:

    "...an ice cold Zima..." Well done, Sir.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    I'm not sure why everyone is assuming the Viper won't be able to keep up to the 911 on those roads either. It's a bit shorter lengthwise (granted, longer wheelbase), has enormous front and rear tire footprints, extremely sticky tires, and the issue of "not putting the power down" can possibly be mitigated by simply leaving the car in high gear, since the engine torque band is just a plateau nearing 600 lb. ft. It HAS a manual transmission, after all. The only issue is whether the suspension is compliant enough for real world roads (an issue noted on many Viper reviews). But you guys make it sound like it's a tractor trailer. @spdracerut: If the rear of your S2K is stepping out, have you used a zero-bumpsteer kit on it?

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