One of the most anticipated cars of the year, the 2012 Porsche 911, has finally made its official debut, and although we’ve known what it was going to look like for several weeks now, the information released today tells the full story--and it’s a very exciting one. The iconic 911, internally referred to as the 991, is now in its 48th year, but has been made thoroughly modern.

So far all we have are details for the Carrera and Carrera S model, but even in these lower trim levels, Porsche engineers have gone to great length to ensure the cars are worthy of their namesake. First and foremost, this seventh-generation 911 is one of the biggest, its wheelbase growing some 3.9 inches over its predecessor’s. However, the new 911 also sits much lower, giving it an athletic yet elegant appearance. A wider front track is also present.

The car is also much lighter than before thanks to a new body composed of a mix of aluminum, steel and composite materials. Overall weight is down 100 pounds when compared with the outgoing 911. Additionally, when combined with the greater structural rigidity and optimized aerodynamics--including a wider, variably extending rear spoiler--the new 911’s front and rear lift has been reduced to near zero while retaining a Cd value of 0.29.

As predicted, power in the Carrera comes from a slightly downsized 3.4-liter flat-six engine with 350 horsepower on tap. This is enough for a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds when equipped with the optional seven-speed PDK dual clutch transmission, or 4.2 seconds when also using the optional Sport Chrono Package’s Launch Control function. Top speed is 179 mph.

Opt for the Carrera S and you get a 3.8-liter flat-six engine with 400 horsepower. This model will sprint from 0-60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, or 3.9 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package. Top speed for the Carrera S is a claimed 188 mph.

We can finally confirm that a standard seven-speed manual will be offered, a production car world first. However, no other details have been released on it yet.

Porsche also claims that the new 2012 911 will also be one of the cleanest, with the Carrera returning gas mileage of 28.7 mpg on the European combined cycle and the Carrera S returning 27 mpg. EPA figures are yet to be released. Some features that may have its detractors are an engine stop-start feature and electro-mechanical power steering, but both help reduce fuel consumption. The optional dual clutch transmission also has a new ‘sail’ feature that allows it to fully disconnect from the engine when the vehicle is coasting.

Inside, the design is clearly derived from the cabins of the Panamera and Cayenne, but it still remains driver focused, with a rising center console and high-mounted gear lever located close to the steering wheel. Depending on the model, there are other standard or optional active control systems available to improve dynamics. That is especially true for the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active roll stabilization system, available for the first time on the 911 Carrera S. The system helps reduce lateral roll when cornering and helps keep the tires in the optimal position relative to the road surface.

The first 2012 Porsche 911 models will arrive in U.S. dealerships beginning in February of the coming year. Pricing for the 911 Carrera will start at $82,100, while the 911 Carrera S will set you back $96,400. Note, both prices exclude destination charges.

Stay tuned for more details, including live photos, following the car’s reveal at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show next month. In the meantime, follow our full coverage of the Frankfurt event by clicking here.


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