It was a beautiful Thursday in northern Virginia and I could tell the wife was expecting me to come up with some outdoor entertainment. No problem. I fired up the AutoTrader app and found three fast cars within just a few miles that she’s never experienced. We’re going test driving!
The first car I locked in was a C6 Corvette and the same dealer also had an E91 M3. Just down the street from this dealer was a 997 Carrera S I’ve been eyeballing. She’s always liked how the Corvettes look so I figured this C6 would interest her. The M3 could go either way. Unfortunately, the 911 is not a car she’s ever been fond of from a styling perspective, so my hopes were not high for that one.
When we arrived at the first dealership we were told that the M3 was not on location but they could have it in just fifteen minutes. That was just fine as it gave us time to drive the Corvette first.
This particular Corvette was a silver on black 2007 model with the required 6-speed transmission and navigation. I opened the passenger door like a gentleman and she slid down on to the slick leather seat.
Within seconds she commented the interior looked plain and that the painted hard plastic material used as trim on the center console looked as if it had pulled straight from the Corolla parts bin. This was off to a great start and it was only going to get better.
After taking a minute to get comfortable in the driver’s seat it was time to fire up the LS2. I blindly poked the ignition key in to the steering column a half dozen times before realizing the grey rectangular shaped toggle-switch-looking-panel-button to the right of the steering column was the engine start button. There was no engine start label and it looked nothing like the red circle push button found in the Honda S2000 or latest GTI. Anyway, I pushed it and V8 roared to life as much as the factory exhaust would allow.
Clutch in, grabbed the awkward shaped leather wrapped shift knob, and rowed it through a few of the gears. I previously owned a 1999 Corvette Fixed Roof Coop (FRC) so I knew exactly how it would feel — like dragging a heavy branch through a rock garden.
So we’re off. We pulled out on to the main street and the entire chassis let out a loud creak. It sounded like the knees of an old man walking up a flight of old wooden stairs. And the noise didn’t stop. While most of the creaking ceased, there was a constant squeaking from the removable roof. Within a few blocks we identified the noise as coming from the removable top meets the windshield frame near the A pillar.
We hit the highway and I introduced her to the LS2. It didn’t take but a second with the right foot down before she yelled out, “Okay! Okay!”. I gave her a smirk and an evil grin. To the back roads!
Boring! That summed up the back road and the remainder of our test drive. The seats offered so little bolstering that she slid around through the corners. Combine that with the creaking chassis, uninspiring interior design and low rent materials, her perception of the Corvette had just done a 180. While they may look good from the outside, she’ll never see them in the same light.
When we arrived back to the dealer she wasted no time and hurried straight to the beautiful white on red 2011 M3 convertible waiting for us. Her first comment was about the interior and how it looked dated. I think what she meant was that the interior design was very clean with an understated design. From the outside, the red interior seem to scream for attention. But once seated, you hardly notice. The front seats are bulky in design. Presumably because they must be reinforced enough to support the safety belts, which run along the headrest rather than being attached a B pillar. A post clearly lacking on this model.
Begin standard convertible start-up procedure. Step one, ensure e-brake is active. Step two, drop the top. Step three, ignition. The V8, while deep, had a much higher level of refinement than the Corvette’s power plant.
Pulling the M3 out of the dealership, I immediately noticed the M3’s steering rack had a much tighter ratio. The car felt rigid and emitted no creaking or peculiar noises. The silence was welcomed with approving smiles. The M3’s V8 was nearly inaudible until a good amount of throttle was introduced, at which point the earth shook and eight screaming demons were suddenly in hot pursuit of your ears. Giving more throttle was the only way to survive. MORE THROTTLE! SHIFT! MORE THROTTLE!
And then we hit the twisty roads. The chassis remained silent as we zipped through the corners. The M3 was composed and never once felt nothing short of confidence inspiring. Shifting was like butter in comparison to the Corvette. No hangups or notchiness to be found. Just a very confident row through the gears.
My wife was all smiles. I couldn’t believe it. She had never been in a convertible before so what a first experience this was. It was like a day at the beach, only with more exhaust fumes. She loved it. So much in fact that she started running finance numbers in her head.
When we returned to the dealer she asked me not to park the car but rather to let her get out and look around some more before handing back the keys. See the trunk space? Talk about a let down when she saw how little storage space was available.
My wife was never in to cars until she met me a few years ago. Not that she’s in to cars now but she can quickly identify a Corvette and just about any generation 911 (because they all look the same, she says).
This next dealership had a black on black 2005 911 Carrera S parked in the showroom next to a white Nissan GTR. “How about we take that one out, instead?”, she requested. Yeah….
It took the employees just a minute to get the Carrera out of the building.
I opened the door and hurried her in to the passenger seat before she could change her mind. She immediately looked in the back. Our eyes met. I was waiting for her to say something about rear seat room. Instead I heard, “I like the M3 better”. Knew that was coming.
No Sport Chrono and no navigation but, I didn’t care. It was a 911. In fact, it was the 911 I’ve been thinking of replacing my M3 for months. Key in the ignition and the 3.8L flat six roared to life with that distinct Porsche pop and rumble through the optional Porsche Sport Exhaust. Even the wife noticed and complimented on the sound.
The Carrera S has 355 horsepower but what was really impressive was the torque. The 911 felt much quicker than the M3 and actually about the same as the C6 Corvette in regards to thrust.
On the back roads the 911 felt much lighter than the previous two cars. The steering feel in the 911 is supernatural. While the steering ratio itself is not as fast as the M3, the feedback was on another level. I knew exactly what was going on with the front suspension and tires.
The seats also received compliments from my wife. They were very supportive and fit her slender build like a glove. This made tossing the 911 through the corners an absolute dream. The seats did a great job of holding both of us in place. “This is better than I expected. I see why you like this car.”, she said.
“Look at hips of this 911 through the mirror”, I asked, trying to sway her opinion in more favor of the 911.
“Oooh, sexy!”, she said. “But I like the M3 more.”