£76,967 - £155,319 Price range
29 - 38 MPG
The Porsche 911 is no stranger to change. In the past 20 years alone the company has scrapped its classic air-cooled engines, ditched feelsome hydraulic power steering and deleted the option to fit a manual gearbox to the track-ready GT3 model.
Dropping naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) engines from the regular line-up is the latest change and one that is signalled by the launch of the new Porsche 911 – its 991.2 codename hinting that this is in fact a heavy facelift of the outgoing 991 model. Little insight is needed to understand why Porsche has taken to turbos – the new model is not just quicker than the old car, it’s more efficient too, and the extra grunt afforded by the twin turbos means there’s more power, more of the time. That alone helps the 911 keep pace with rivals such as the Jaguar F-Type, Audi R8 and Mercedes AMG GT.
Elsewhere, the latest 911 has been subject to the kind of evolutionary ‘nip and tuck’ that Porsche specialises in. You’ll need more than a passing glance to spot the car’s revised headlights, new front bumper (complete with active air ducts), LED indicators in the wing mirrors, new door handles and revised rear bumper. The easiest way to mark your new 911 out from the car it replaces is to choose the centrally mounted twin-pipe sports exhaust from the options list.
Something that has helped make the 911 such a popular choice for sports-car buyers is its everyday usability and much of that centres around the interior. Unlike a low slung Ferrari or Lamborghini, the Porsche is relatively easy to get into and there’s no high sill to climb over before you can slide into the driver’s seat.
Buckled up, you’ll find that visbility is good – making the car easy to park and manoeuvre. Porsche can lend a helping hand by selling you front and rear parking sensors, but you’ll need £639 to get them. Another handy feature is the £1,538 Front Axle Lift system, which raises the nose of the car so you can tackle speed humps and steep car park ramps without scraping the car’s front bumper.
As with the outside, changes to the interior aren’t huge – the most obvious upgrade is the new seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It features Google Earth navigation and also supports Google street view.
Elsewhere, the dashboard design is much as before – with high-quality plastics, solid build quality and handy features (a pair of 12v plugs are standard), but little of the flamboyance an Italian supercar offers in spades. That problem can be rectified by flinging yet more cash at the options list – where you’ll find a wide selection of colourful interior trims – some more tasteful than others.
Porsche 911 passenger space
Up front there is plenty of room for tall adults and the driver’s seat and steering wheel offer lots of adjustment, so it’s extremely easy to get a comfortable driving position. The options list rears its head here, too, with the opportunity for you to specify more supportive Sports Seats Plus (£312) or racy Sports Bucket Seats (£2,420), but we would stick with the standard items that, reviewers report, work just fine.
As a 2+2, it’s best not to expect too much from the 911’s rear seats – they’re fine for small children and handy for additional storage, but using them is not an experience adults will rush to endure.
Porsche 911 boot space
For many it will make more sense to keep the rear seats folded down permanently. Doing so frees up 260 litres of load space that, when combined with the 145-litre front boot, makes the 911 decently roomy – more so than its Audi R8 rival.
It’s not just the car’s verging-on-practical interior that makes the 911 a popular choice in the class, Porsche’s commitment to everyday usability also shines through once you get out on road. There the 911’s manageable size make it a lot less intimidating to drive than a wide supercar – such as the R8 – and its sloping bonnet makes for excellent forward visibility.
The suspension also strikes a superb balance – being stiff enough to fully explore the 911’s formidable limits, while not being so firm that it’s annoying in daily use. Go for the quicker 911 S and you now get Porsche Active Suspension Management as standard – it is 10mm lower than the basic system and allows you to adjust the stiffness of the car’s suspension.
The S is also available with four-wheel drive (called the Carrera 4S). Aficionados will spot the car’s wider rear wheel arches and the reflective light bar that runs the length of the rear engine cover. In practice the 4×4 system gives better all-weather grip, and does little to dampen the standard 911’s engaging driving characteristics.
Making the 911 even more fleet of foot is the optional £1,530 rear-wheel steering that’s available on Carrera S models. It allows for tighter turns in town, while making the car feel more stable during high-speed cornering.
Electric power steering (fitted to aid fuel economy) made its debut in the outgoing 911 and it has been further refined in the 991.2 model. Reviewers say it is very nearly as good as a conventional hydraulic system. The feel you get through the wheel rim makes it easier to sense the Porsche’s limits, while its well-judged weight means it is a cinch to cut through a series of bends spurred on by the almost complete lack of body lean.
Buyers cans choose from a seven-speed manual gearbox, which offers slick mechanical-feeling changes, or Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK gearbox with the same number of gears. A pull of the PDK’s gearlever now changes up, while pushing the lever forward drops it down a cog, which feels more natural than the reverse (counter-intuitive) way the old system worked.
Braking – as you would hope in a car such as this – is excellent, the standard system proving to be both extremely powerful and easy to modulate.
A measure of the improvements made to the 911 comes in the form of a Nurburgring lap time that is 10 seconds quicker than the old model’s, with a time of 7min 30sec.
Performance is where most buyers will notice a difference between old and new 911s. While no one would dispute that the outgoing car was quick, you had to work it hard to get the best from it.
Enter the new model that, from all but the lowest engine speeds, provides significant thrust when you need it thanks to a pair of power-bulging turbos. Instant throttle response, which is sometimes an issue in forced induction cars (as they wait for the turbos to get up to speed), is barely noticeable in the 911 – instead you get greater in-gear flexibility so gaps in traffic convert into overtakes that you wouldn’t have attempted in the old car.
The raw figures back up the practice. The basic 3.0-litre 911 Carrera 2 now pumps out 370hp compared to the old model’s 350hp. But the big difference comes in the form of 332Ib ft of torque, which arrives at just 1,700rpm – in the old model peak torque sat at 288Ib ft, but didn’t arrive until 5,600rpm. As a result of all this, the 991.2 can get from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds – six tenths of a second quicker than the outgoing car – and its top speed has risen slightly from 180mph to 183mph.
More performance can be had by opting for the Carrera S. Thanks mostly to bigger turbochargers and an increase in boost pressure from 0.9 to 1.2 bar. Power swells to 420hp and torque rises to 369Ib ft – meaning the 0-62mph sprint is done and dusted in just 3.9 seconds and the car keeps on pulling until it hits 190mph. Specify it with four-wheel drive and that time drops to 3.8 seconds, but expect performance in the wet to be significantly improved.
Fuel economy is pretty impressive for a car as quick as the 911. The standard model returns up to 34mpg combined (fit the PDK gearbox and 38.4mpg should be possible) and CO2 emissions of 190g/km mean that taxing it will cost you £265 a year. Even the S model doesn’t suffer from horrendous running costs – it drinks fuel at a rate of 32.5mpg (36.7mpg when equipped with PDK) and costs the same to tax as the standard model.
While the Porsche 911 comes with a decent array of standard features – climate control, DAB digital radio, bi-Xenon headlights and a leather interior – there is a wide array of options that enhance the experience.
Most buyers are expected to specify the £2,388 seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox, while we would recommend the excellent sports exhaust (£1,773). At the touch of a button it makes the 911 sound even better, but also gives it a classic look by mounting the exhausts in the middle of the rear bumper. Stopping power can also be improved by choosing the pricy £5,787 ceramic brakes, which won’t suffer from as much fade on track as the standard items and also require less maintenance.
Rather than giving the 911 an all-new character, the 991.2’s updates refine and improve what was already an excellent car. While the engine may have lost some of its delicious mechanical howl, the extra performance more than makes up for it – laying down a huge dollop of added on-road pace. Elsewhere the changes are more subtle, but were all that was needed and the 911 personifies the everyday supercar in a way few can match.