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2002 Porsche Carrera

New Car Review of the 2002 Porsche Carrera.

Price Range: $67,900 - $90,000
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CONFIGURATION: 3.6 liter, 320 hp flat 6 Rear Engine/Rear Drive

FUEL ECONOMY (city/hwy): 18/26 MPG

SAFETY FEATURES: Driver, passenger and site airbags. ">Antilock Brakes are standard. Porsche Stability Management System standard on Carrera 4 and optional on Carrera.

IMPRESSION: Again the bar has been raised with better numbers and comfort. Bose magic and attention to detail adds new reasons for selecting Porsche.

(Memphis, Home of the Blues) Home of Sun records, Gibson guitar factory, Beale Street and of course Graceland, there's a new performance hall in town, and it's in the Porsche Carrera. I don't usually go into ecstasy about high end music installations, but Porsche went out of their way to accommodate the Bose engineers in making the car fit the music's needs rather than the other way around. It's spectacular, and while you'll have to judge the price of admission, the critics are raving.

The new Bose automotive music systems in 2002 Porsche vehicles combine balanced stereo, a panoramic sound stage, digital amplifiers, deep and accurate bass and smooth frequency response to produce lifelike music reproduction. "Porsche chose to work with Bose because they approach their craft much in the way Porsche approaches automotive engineering," said Frederick J. Schwab, president and CEO, Porsche Cars North America. "We believe that the emotional musical experience Bose delivers will complement the exhilarating experience of owning a Porsche." And the Bose engineers were equally ecstatic regarding the Porsche approach, and told us that they went out of their way to adapt the car to their needs - not ever heard before in all the high end stereo presentations.

Bose is able to design a music system built expressly and exclusively for each vehicle model. In the Bose audio systems for Porsche vehicles, an array of advanced loudspeakers blends seamlessly into cabin trim, raising and widening the sound stage and ensuring balanced stereo. Powerful tuned and ported bass speakers are concealed in customized enclosures to furnish superb performance within limited cabin space. They may lessen storage room, but the effect is worth it. There are custom designed enclosures in the doors for low/mid range speakers and in dash for tweeters.

Bose was a doctoral candidate at MIT in 1964 and was disappointed in the reproduction of sound. His credo was "In order to be better, you must be different." Kind of sounds like Porsche, doesn't it. His belief that audio in car can rival or be better than music in a home was at the heart of this effort. Its essentials are: realistic tonal balance, balanced spacious stereo, and distortion free performance at full concert volume. Simplicity of operation. To that I can say it is a far better system to manipulate than previous Porsche mini-button units.

Not many Porsche reviews go this far without raving about performance, and while better, the new Carrera is an evolution, albeit with significant advances. A larger, more powerful engine and a new look inspired by the 911 Turbo highlight the Carrera. The engine has been increased in stroke to raise it from 3.4 L and 300 hp to make these cars the quickest and fastest normally aspirated 911 models ever offered in North America.

The revised look is most pronounced in the front, with a new front end, a wider rear, and a reshaping of the wheel arches, all aimed at better air cooling and reduced lift. The 2002 models adopt the headlight design of the 911 Turbo, plus redesigned oval exhaust tailpipes and slender spoke wheels that reduce sprung weight by 5 lb. The extra 20 hp are hinted at with a more muscular tone in the exhaust.

No Porsche review would be complete without detailing the four Valve valves per cylinder, the completely variable VarioCam(r) Plus system that controls valve timing, lift and duration, two-stage resonance induction, and the integrated dry sump lubrication system.

Most have rear wheel drive with the all-wheel drive versions using a viscous multi-plate clutch mounted just behind the front differential to maximize high performance safety. The Carrera comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission while the optional five-speed Tiptronic(r) S automatic is a great compromise between convenience and high performance driving desires.

Porsche maintains the fiction of 2+2 seating, but only for small kids and in-laws. In the Coupes, the rear seatbacks fold down to create a flat cargo floor. The standard sunroof in the coupes is large and for those who like them.

A three-spoke sports steering wheel replaces the previous four-spoke wheel that was such an impediment to seeing the instruments. The speedometer is to the left, almost as an afterthought, and has an easy to read digital display built into to ease reading small numbers. The newly standard onboard computer uses an LCD screen in the tachometer to display information including fuel consumption and driving range, engine oil level, outside temperature and 35 different warning messages in plain text. But most Americans will be impressed more by redesigned cup holders and FINALLY, a glove box! It's only taken about 50 years.

The model line for 2002 includes the 911 Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet and the all-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. A new version of the 911 Carrera 4 Coupe will be released later in the model year. The fully automatic power soft-top on the Cabriolet models folds compactly into a compartment behind the rear seats. A solid tonneau cover fits flush against the body with the roof lowered, preserving the sleek, uncluttered appearance. In the Cabriolet models, a long awaited glass rear window with integral defroster replaces the polycarbonate window for 2002. The Cabriolet features a fully automatic three-layer power roof, an automatic deploying roll bar, and a standard removable aluminum hardtop. Purists can delete the hardtop for credit.