Porsche 911 Review
The Porsche 911 is the definition of a usable sports car. It’s devastatingly quick but also easy to live with everyday, just so long as you don’t need proper rear seats
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Huge cornering grip
- Strong performance
- Everyday ease of use
What's not so good
- Options are expensive
- Back seats best for storage
- Doesn't particularly great
Porsche 911: what would you like to read next?
Believe it or not, this is the eighth generation of the Porsche 911, which first went on sale back in 1963. However, hold up a picture of the original and today’s models and you’ll notice there hasn’t been much change in the design department.
However, we assure this latest 911 is all-new, built to be easier to live with and – more importantly – to be even quicker than the car it replaces. The latest evolution of the company’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six petrol engine has that particular requirement covered.
Revised turbochargers and a host of other revisions mean the Carrera S – the only 911 available from launch – now produces 450hp (30hp up on the old model). It’ll get from 0-60mph in just 3.2 seconds and crack 190mph, while it’s wide powerband means you always have oomph when you put your foot down.
The way the Porsche 911 deals with corners is as impressive as its performance in a straight line. Its powerful brakes give you bags of confidence to barrel into bends, cornering grip in the dry is almost infinite and, even when it does eventually run out, you get fair warning because the steering feels hard-wired to the front tyres.
But the 911 is just as good at rolling up its sleeves and getting to work on the dirty business that is everyday driving. On the motorway it’s a quiet cruiser, has plenty of standard safety kit and is available with autonomous driving aids that pretty much do your job for you.
The excellent forward visibility that helps you place the 911 perfectly in bends pays dividends in town when you’re inching through width restrictors. It’s even a piece of cake to park thanks to its large back window and standard high-definition rear-view camera. It’s this all-round ability that marks the Porsche out from uncompromising sports cars from the likes of Ferrari.
The Porsche 911 could give Darwin a lesson in perfect evolution
The Porsche’s interior might not look quite as exotic as a Ferrari’s but it feels miles better built and comes with no less than three infotainment screens that include a sat-nav system that’s as good as you’ll find in the best executive saloons from BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
Infact, the infotainment screens are used for most of the car’s controls – you only get nine physical buttons on the top half of the dash – leaving the way clear for a flash of trim that runs the width of the car. Leather upholstery comes as standard (you can extend it onto the rest of the interior at extra cost) and a wide range of interior colour options make it possible to have a 911 with its own unique feel.
It’s even hard to find fault with the space you get. Up front, there’s loads of room even if you’re a towering giant and the range of adjustment offered by the seat and the steering wheel lets you get all controls exactly how you want them. Admittedly, only small kids will be happy in the back, but then alternatives like the Ferrari 488 and Audi R8 have no rear seats at all. Even the Porsche’s boot has enough room to cram in a weekend’s luggage.
And that pretty much summarises what’s good about this 911. It might be an entirely different car to the original model but what hasn’t changed is its ability to fit your life, rather than you fitting around it.
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The Porsche 911 interior doesn’t make you feel as special as more exotic supercars but you do get a smart design, excellent quality and a list of options that make it highly customisable
The Porsche 911 feels spacious and airy up front, but the back seats will only do for small kids – often you’ll be better off using them as an overflow for the small boot
Those back seats will be handy if you've defied medial science and parented hamsters. Otherwise, they're best used for storage
One of the things that make the Porsche 911 so usable is its excellent driving position. You get acres of adjustment for the steering wheel and the driver’s seat, and even when you’re sitting low in the cabin it’s easy to judge the corners of the car.
The seats in this latest model are all new – they make a 3kg weight saving on the old ones, but are still comfortable and supportive. The optional seat cooling system meanwhile, is one of the most effective we have experienced and heated seats are also on the options list.
The back seats sit at the opposite end of the scale. You might just squeeze a couple of adults in there – but only for short, emergency drives. Really, they’re only suitable for small kids.
The Porsche 911 can’t match the interior storage you get in a family car, but it isn’t too bad. For example, you get a handy pair of cup holders – one that folds neatly out the passenger side of the dashboard and a less elegant solution that messes up the clean lines of the car’s centre console.
Under the front centre armrest, there’s space for a couple of phones and you get two USB ports for charging. Although the pockets in the doors are too narrow for a bottle of water, you do get two on each side. The glovebox, meanwhile, is weighed down with manuals, but find another place for them and you will fit a bottle of water in there.
With the 911’s engine at the back, you’ll find the boot of the Porsche 911 at the front. Called the ‘frunk’, its 132-litres gives you less luggage capacity than you’ll find in a supercar from McLaren or Ferrari – and is nearly 50% smaller than you’ll get in a tiny car like the VW Up.
Its shape makes it best suited to squidgy soft bags – you’ll have enough room in there for a long weekend away for two, but longers trips will mean storing luggage in the back seat.
In time the Porsche 911 will be available with an engine range covering the entry-level Carrera, top-of-the-range Turbo and track-focused GT models, but the car launches with the range staples – the two-wheel-drive Carrera S and four-wheel-drive Carrera 4S.
The 911’s eighth gear is like supercruise in a supersonic jet – allowing the Porsche to maintain high speeds while burning relatively little fuel
Both the Carrera S and 4S get a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six that produces 450hp, 530Nm of torque and an earthy howl that’ll get the hair standing up on a petrol head’s neck.
In raw performance terms, the Carrera 2S gets from 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds, while the 4S’s extra grip off the line means it hits 60 fractionally quicker – in 3.2 seconds. Both car’s scythe from 0-120mph in under 14 seconds and with enough room can hit 190mph flat out.
Fuse those numbers into real-world situations and you have an engine that offers great get up and go from low revs with bags of acceleration no matter which gear you’re in or what speed you’re travelling at. That usable performance comes about thanks to turbochargers that deliver full torque from not much more than tick over.
You can also thank the turbos for the 911’s admirable official combined fuel economy of just under 32mpg – the best you’ll get out of the comparable BMW M4 is 28mpg and it’s slower in a sprint.
The Porsche’s eight-speed automatic gearbox also makes it more usable. Its higher top gear (the old 911 only had seven speeds) means the car cruises more quietly on the motorway and doesn’t burn so much fuel while doing so.
The Porsche 911 isn’t just a usable sports car it’s one of the most fun-to-drive sports cars you can buy, which makes its easy-to-live-with nature even more surprising.
Communication is what the 911 is all about. Head down the road in the Porsche and its controls make it feel like you’ve been driving alternatives – such as the BMW 8 Series – by remote control.
You can steam up to corners using the firm pedal to modulate the powerful brakes perfectly, turn in quickly as the front tyres grip the Tarmac hard then power out using the immense traction created by having the engine sitting over the back wheels. It’s so good that you only need the four-wheel-drive Carrera 4S if you live somewhere where the roads are always slippy. In terms of involvement, it’s hard to think of a normal car – or anything that’s vaguely practical – that offers more.
And the more you drive it the more you learn to trust it, knowing that the car’s electronic safety net will come to your rescue even if you do push beyond your abilities.
That safeguard’s bolstered further by a new feature called Wet Mode. Acoustic sensors in the front wheels detect the pitter patter of moisture sprayed up by the tyres and warn you when the ground’s getting slippy. You can then switch to Wet mode – which raises the rear spoiler for more downforce and puts the car’s stability programmes on red alert – so it’s impossible to get the 911 out of shape no matter how stupidly you drive it.
You don’t have to drive like a loon to enjoy the Porsche, though. Pootling about town you can revel in the car’s excellent forward visibility and short nose that makes it easy to thread down tight streets. And, even if you don’t spot incoming disaster, the car’s automatic emergency brakes should stop an imminent collision.
There’s a whole suite of optional electronics that can also take the monotony out of motorway driving. Specify adaptive cruise control, along with lane-assist with traffic-sign recognition and you’ll end up with a 911 that can drive itself down any road with a white centre line while autonomously observing the speed limit. It can even bring the car to a complete halt and make off again automatically when the traffic starts moving again.