The unmistakeable sound of the Porsche 911 Carrera S resonates between the rows of manicured hedges and the beach as I drive along the shoreline of Lake Simcoe 60 minutes north of Toronto. Much to my surprise, teenage boys and people of all ages are as equally attracted to the Lime Gold metallic paint scheme as women. I had assumed red, black or silver would be their choice. But all say it is the perfect colour for this extraordinary sports coupe and they are right!
Power comes in the form of a 3.8-litre 6-cylinder engine. In typical Porsche fashion, a practice that has lasted nearly 50 years, the design is horizontally opposed. Put more simply, the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S employs a flat-6 mounted in the rear of the car. This is important to remember when exiting the car and opening the trunk; logically placed in the front.
Twisting the ignition switch, customarily located on the left side of sport steering wheel, brings to life the sweet sounds of 400 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 325 lb-ft of torque. But these are just numbers on a page. The real fun starts when you blast away from a stop, reaching 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds while topping out at 302 km/h.
Of course, nowhere except for a racetrack would you ever think of reaching top speed? But 100 km/h in just over 4 seconds, I can do this all day! And maybe, if the location is just right, I might have the opportunity to continue on for a full 9 seconds and realize 160 km/h.
Matched with the esteemed 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission, the road unfolds into a series of tight, twisting “S” turns as I toggle quickly between 2, 3 and 4th gears Steering wheel mounted aluminum shift paddles make it effortless. Driving a manual Porsche is fun in its own way, but using your fingertips to manipulate gear changes is equally enjoyable and allows me to concentrate more on the road ahead.
Inside, the optional leather sport seats grip with a tenacity matched only by the independent MacPherson strut front and LSA multi-link rear suspension. Enhanced Porsche Stability Management (PSM) includes ABS 8.0, ASR, ABD, MSR and additional brake functions to aid the rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera S on its quest for the best in sports car fun. Kicking out the back is still possible, but technology has improved this car to the point where a surprise turn of events is less likely to happen than in the old days.
The cockpit surrounds me in Bavarian-style form meets function. All Porsche vehicles today offer a level of sophistication that surpasses the generations before. But the Stuttgart, Germany automaker is careful not to overindulge with bells and whistles, at least on the 911. My attention is easily fixed on the large center-mounted tachometer, bold-lettered speedometer, which, given the available power, is a very good thing.
The drive north is well worth it not only for time spent in the car, but the destination for this week’s venture. The Briars is a heritage Ontario lakeside resort located on the south shore of Lake Simcoe. The Inn and Manor House date back to a simpler era. A time when family get-togethers meant lemonade on the lawn, relaxing in a big white Muskoka chair under your favourite tree and the sound of birds breaking the silence, not cell phones.
The Inn, built around the original estate, houses the main dining room, indoor and outdoor pools, the Spa, tennis courts, a games room and fitness area plus enough hallways to guarantee adventure finding your way around. Taking a ride up to the 4th floor in the tower, I walk the extra steps to floor five for a grand view. Lake Simcoe is brilliantly blue today, reflecting the cloudless skies.
Meals are served in what was once the driveway between house and stable. Converted years ago to provide a casual setting, the dining room offers several seating areas depending on your taste and full range of meal options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am advised to try the Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert and it doesn’t disappoint.
Recreational opportunities abound at The Briars, but I can’t resist a round at the Briars Golf Club, a Stanley Thompson/Robbie Robertson design dating back 9 decades. Challenging by resort golf standards, it represents the best in cottage country golf playing fair but never easy. Thunderstorms cancel the second nine, but it’s a great excuse to meet the boys in the clubhouse and enjoy a pint or two with the golf pro and head chef.
The Spa at The Briars is intimate in both size and style. Unlike the excess opulence so popular with today’s grand spa themes, you enter the spa simply, greeted with a pair of slippers in your size, a warm housecoat and refreshments served in a comfy waiting area. From there, a full menu of spa services is offered with expert staff providing massage, facials and much more at a relaxed pace.
Back in the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S I am feeling stress-free and inspired to push the laws of physics once again. The car responds with typical Porsche flare and the miles pass by effortlessly. Time to turnaround and head back, I relish the idea of taking the same corners, but from a different direction. Cottage life is sweet, especially with an old friend like the Porsche 911 at your side.
2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Configuration: rear engine/ rear-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.8L 6 cylinder/ 7-spd automatic
Power/torque: 400 hp/ 325 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Premium (64L)
Fuel economy ratings: 10.6 L/100km city; 7.3 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 8.9 L/100km over 650 km
Warranties: 4 years/ 80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Audi R8, BMW 6 Series, Chevrolet Corvette, Maserati Gran Turismo, Nissan GT-R