When updating a car as iconic as the Porsche 911, “good enough” simply isn’t an acceptable term. While it’s not likely that any Porsche owner would drive his car through a desert sandstorm, or in winter temperatures of minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, those are exactly the conditions under which Porsche’s engineers tested the 2012 911 Carrera.

Why go to such extremes when your customers probably won’t? For Porsche, it’s a matter of testing things to the point of failure, because it’s better to have a part or system fail on an engineer than fail on a customer.

Take the oil Porsche originally specified for use in its new seven-speed manual transmission, for example. At -40 degrees Fahrenheit, the oil froze, making shifting impossible.

This could have left a Porsche customer stranded, under potentially life-threatening circumstances. Instead, it’s simply an obstacle for the engineering team to overcome before the car can be brought to market.

Lest you think that Porsche is the only automaker to go to extremes in new-product testing, realize that virtually all automakers now have similar extreme testing programs as well. The net result is an improved product, across most price points and market segments.

The video below gives a good overview of Porsche’s testing of the 2012 911 Carrera, which we picked as the 2012 Best Car to Buy. Beauty shots of the new 911 aside, the stunning South African scenery is enough to make the video worth watching.