The Porsche 911 needs no introduction; for over forty-five years it has been consistently rated as the world’s best sports car with its unique rear-engined, rear-wheel drive setup. All new versions don’t come around very often so when an all new version does come along, it is worthy of a line or two.
The latest 911 model, known internally as the 991, continues Porsche’s evolutionary rather than revolutionary design process. It’s instantly recognisable as a 911 but what isn’t so noticeable initially is that it is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, the 997 series. For me, it’s the best all-round 911 ever, combining the handsome looks of the glorious 993 series (built between 1994-97) with an interior quality that’s worthy of its upgraded price, now starting at a healthy £71,500.
The main design aspect you will notice is the new attractive rear-light treatment which incorporates thin contemporary LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lights. They not only give a modern signature look to the rear of the car but also have safety benefits too; they’re brighter than standard bulbs and illuminate quicker too. A brake-light that illuminates quicker gives the driver behind more warning of an impending stop .
Whether the over-kill in branding on the rear bumper is tasteful or tasteless will depend upon whether you want the driver behind to know exactly what you’re sat in, in this case, a “Porsche Carrera S”. For me, it’s a bit showy and if you agree, then select the ‘model deletion’ box when you specify your car.
The big welcome change comes on the inside. Finally, Porsche have realised that a special car needs a special interior and for once the 911 delivers with a big step-up in interior quality through the use of more expensive materials: higher grade plastics, beautiful leather work and flashes of contemporary metal inserts. It feels, to quote an advert, “reassuringly expensive”.
The 911 also features the handsome raised centre-console design which debuted in the Panamera (Porsche’s four door sports saloon), to my mind it seems to take its influence from the luxury mobile phone, Vertu. No bad thing as it’s a logical and attractive way of laying out all the buttons and gizmos associated with a modern luxury sports car.
One thing Porsche have always got right with their interiors is the ergonomics and this model is no exception. The interior is a driver’s delight with easy to read modern instruments which also manage the neat trick of looking effortlessly cool at the same time.
The steering wheel feels just-so in your hands and, following Porsche tradition, the rev-counter dominates the instrument binnacle. You may well ask why sports cars make such a big deal of the ‘rev-counter’? It all stems from historic racing where the rev-counter was critical for telling the driver when to change gear to get the best performance out of his racing car. Clearly it’s not as essential as it once was but it’s a tradition that’s stuck.
Moving on to the parts you can’t see so easily, the under-the-skin changes have been comprehensive. This new 911 is both lighter and more fuel efficient than the previous 997 series. How? Aluminium for a start. This lighter metal is now responsible for the floor, roof, doors and all sheetmetal forward of the windscreen; that’s forty-five percent of the whole car.
Engine choices are either the base 3.4 litre of the Carrera model or, for deeper pockets, the 3.8 litre Carrera S model. Each engine offers start/stop technology (automatically shuts down the engine at traffic lights and restarts again when you’re ready to move off), which is said to offer an improvement in fuel economy of 1.5 miles per gallon. Each engine is direct-injection meaning only the precise quantity of fuel is injected into each of the six cylinders, saving on waste.
There’s also a de-coupling system on the semi-automatic double clutch gearbox or, in Porsche speak, PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung – it could only be German), which de-couples the engine from its drive allowing it to effectively idle when going downhill, for example. This further improves economy by 2.5 miles per gallon.
The other big news is that if you choose the manual version it comes with, count-them, seven, yes seven forward gears, a world-first. The seventh gear is effectively a motorway cruising gear, the higher the gear, the lower the engine (not car) speed, further saving on petrol consumption.
All of these factors combined give the 911 unheard of fuel consumption figures in the sports car market, 34.4 miles per gallon and 194 grams per km of CO2 for the Carrera. Even the bigger engine Carrera S is impressive at 32.4 and 205, respectively.
Oh, what an austere world we now live in when Porsche fill their press kit with information on fuel economy improvements rather than performance figures!
So, in a bid to restore normality, the base Carrera model offers 350 horsepower and can do the 0-60 mph dash in 4.5 seconds. The Carrera S offers 400 horsepower and cracks 60 in half a second less. These may be more environmentally friendly cars but they’re very quick about it!
In other news, the 911 features a (heaven-forbid) switch to electric power steering, something derided by enthusiasts for destroying the ‘steering-feel’ in a sports car. I am glad to report though that the legendary Porsche magic steering quality remains. So, if you are a Porsche enthusiast, you can sleep easy tonight; all is as it should be.
In summary, the new 911 is quicker and more fuel efficient than its predecessor, it’s the best looking 911, I believe, and, to cap it all off, it now comes with an interior that’s as special as the car itself. What’s not to like?! Oh yes, the price! The range starts at £71,449 for the base Carrera rising to £81,242 for the Carrera S. A word of warning though, Porsche has a long list of mouth-watering options for each model that can easily add another £20,000 to the list price so choose with care. You have been warned.
If you have any questions about the new 911, please contact me and I will be happy to answer your queries and coach you towards your new Porsche.