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While you probably should never buy “version one” of anything, you can be sure that “version 36″ is a pretty safe bet. Porsche introduced the 911 in 1965, and has basically been refining it ever since. Still, that didn’t prepare me for how “right” the Carrera coupe — successor version to the old 911 — would feel when I finally got to take it for a spin. If you’re looking for a timid little fashion statement or a lush boulevard cruiser that will never muss your hair, pummel your backside, or — on occasion — scare you half to death, then the Carrera is not your ride. And if you buy a Carrera just for the status, never intending to let it romp across the asphalt, you’ll be doing yourself a real disservice. With a 300-horsepower, 3.4-liter, six-cylinder engine, perhaps the most precise six-speed gearbox on the planet, and brakes made in heaven, the entry-level Carrera provides a two-hands-and-two-feet driving experience that will have you dreaming about taking the long way to work. Pushing an extraordinary measure of torque through the rear wheels, the Carrera allows you to cruise all day between 20 mph and 80 mph in third gear. The Stability Management Control feature virtually eliminates the combination of understeer and excessive torque. When I took the Carrera out on the road, it proved to be almost gyroscopically stable at all speeds and on all surfaces — wet or dry. The fit and finish on these cars is as good as you’re ever likely to see, and the ergonomics — not surprisingly — are superb. Not only is everything where it’s supposed to be, but Porsche engineers even seem to have calculated all possible angles of outward visibility. Rough roads can yield a punishing ride, and the noisy cabin isn’t the ideal place for the high-quality audio system. But these are not concerns for the true sports car enthusiast. The Porsche Carrera coupe is an exquisite mechanical work of art. And driving it evokes such pure pleasure that all other concerns become irrelevant. The Carrera in brief: � M.S.R.P. — $66,500 � Mileage — 17 city/25 highway � Warranty — 4 years/50,000 miles standard, with roadside assistance

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