What is the Porsche 911?
This is the best everyday sports car money can buy. It may come as a surprise but this is only the third completely new 911 in nearly half a century of the world’s most enduring sports car icon. That’s because that company’s reputation is entirely built around the 911, so Porsche evolves it with the sort of painstaking precision more typical of an operating theatre than a car factory, as it strives to keep ahead of the Audis, BMWs, Jaguars and Maseratis of this world.
It’s lighter than the last generation 911, has a much longer wheelbase to improve both ride comfort and interior space and there is a wide range of variants for car buyers to choose from. The range begins with the 911 Carrera, priced from £73,413. That buys a two-wheel drive, manual transmission coupé.
A glance at Porsche’s website will show how expansive the range is, with more powerful S models, all-wheel drive versions, turbocharged go-faster machines and road-racers like the GT3. If your wallet is deep enough, and you’ve an insatiable appetite for power, the Turbo S coupé costs £140,852.
Talking of money, the thorn in the 911’s side is another Porsche: the Cayman. The S version of the smaller coupé costs £48,783 and it’s ever-so-nearly as good as the 911.
Choosing between the 345bhp 3.4-litre Carrera and the 395bhp, 3.8-litre Carrera S is not easy: the smaller engine is sweeter and keener to rev, but the S counters with considerably more torque making it not just quicker but easier to drive fast. Another difficult decision is which gearbox to choose: in the past we’d have selected the manual but while the latest gearbox may have seven gears, what it’s added in quantity it’s lost in the quality of its gearshift action. In the meantime, the double-clutch PDK auto is better than ever and probably our choice – although it adds almost £2,400 to the price.
Whether you opt for the Carrera, Carrera S or any of the other versions , the chassis will still be breathtakingly brilliant. Every last vestige of rear-engine twitchiness has been removed, leaving a car of almost unbelievable point-to-point speed, poise and agility. Even the new electric steering system, which has habit of ruining the feel of a sports car car, turns out to be good. The hydraulic steering of the previous 911 was better still, but few will find actual fault with the new arrangement.
Great leaps have been made with the ride comfort and refinement. This might not be what 911 bores most like to discuss down the pub but out there in the real world it brings a new dimension to the car, making it almost as quiet and soothing on a long run as a luxury saloon. It is its ability to blend these vital everyday talents with an undimmed capacity to thrill on the right road that ensures the 911’s enduring appeal.
Look inside and you might think you’d stumbled into a Porsche Panamera by mistake. This is a far more ordered and plush interior than any previous 911’s. The switchgear is neatly arranged, the driving position near perfect; the days of the driver’s feet being uncomfortably offset to the right are over. You might even be able to travel short distances with small children in the back seats without ruining their chances of a career in professional sports.
Still, the odd issue remains: the sat nav is poor by the standards of what you find in German saloons of less than half the money and there’s still not enough stowage space for small everyday items like phones and wallets. Overall, however, and for the first time in its history, the 911 offers a driving environment commensurate to the driving experience itself.
Buying a used Porsche 911
The current 911 was launched December 2011 in coupé form with cabriolet open-tops following in March 2012. It is known as the ‘991’. Based on an all-new platform, they are lighter than the previous 997, yet have a longer wheelbase and wider front track for more cabin space and better driving dynamics. Two flat-six cylinder engines, a 350bhp 3.4 and a 400bhp 3.8, are offered, plus the option of Porsche’s excellent PDK seven-speed dual-clutch semi-auto as well as the equally impressive seven-speed manual gearbox. Four-wheel-drive Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 S models joined the line-up in December 2012; high performance Turbo and GT3 versions arrived in late 2013.
What to look out for
The 991 has been recalled for a potential fuel pipe leak and fire risk. A Porsche franchised dealer should be able to tell used car buyers what recalls have been carried out on any 911 and whether a specific car they’re are thinking of buying was subject to these, and if so whether it has had the repairs carried out. The first 785 GT3 models sold (just over 100 in the UK) were recalled to have replacement engines fitted, following a risk of the car catching fire.
The one to buy
Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK
- £85,835 (correct at first publication)
- 3800cc, flat six
- 395bhp @ 7000rpm
- 287 lb ft @ 5600rpm
- 7-speed, double clutch
- 0-62mph in 4.3sec
- Top speed:
- 32mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- K (£600 for the first year, £270 thereafter)
- L 4491mm, W 1808mm, H 1303mm