Porsche 911 review
The Porsche 911 is the definition of a usable sports car. It’s devastatingly quick and fun in all its forms but also easy to live with every day, although the rear seats are best suited to children.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 is a bit of an icon among sports cars, with nearly seven decades of heritage and improvements. But the untrained eye might not notice.
Unless you’re a die-hard fan you might look at the latest 911 and assume it’s the same as the one before, and the one before that, and so on. So you’ll need Sherlock Holmes for the spot-the-difference game, but we can assure you that this new 911 is, actually, completely new.
The traditional 911 mission statement remains: it has to be useable and comfortable every day, but also one of the most rewarding drivers cars on the market. Not only has the new car been built to be even more of a breeze to live with, it’s much quicker than the car it replaces, too.
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 even the entry-level Carrera now produces 385hp. It’ll get from 0-60mph in just 4.0 seconds and crack 182mph, while it’s wide power band means you always have oomph when you put your foot down.
On top of that, there are the even faster Carrera S, Turbo S and track-focussed GT3 models – should the standard car not be quite hardcore enough for you. In fact, the Turbo S model won Best Performance Car in the 2021 carwow Car of the Year Awards, and its astonishing performance has claimed many heads in our drag races.
The way all Porsche 911s deal with corners is as impressive as its pace 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. The four-wheel-drive Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S models are even better in this regard.
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 high-tech 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.
There isn't a bad 911, but the Turbo S is perhaps the most impressive all-rounder. The GT3 is truly amazing on track, too!
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, including a sat-nav system that’s as good as you’ll find in the best executive saloons from BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
In fact, the 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. The Turbo S and GT3 models can be had with Alcantara upholstery too, for an even sportier feel.
It’s even hard to find fault with the space you get. Upfront, 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 truly happy in the back (adults can fit, but only for a lift to the pub), but then alternatives like the Ferrari 488 and Audi R8 have no rear seats at all. Even the Porsche’s front boot has enough room to cram in a weekend’s luggage.
All in, the Porsche 911 is a fantastic sports car. 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.
If that has sold it to you, make sure you check out our leasing deals for the best Porsche 911 monthly prices.
Watch our video of the track-focussed version of the 911, the GT3:
The Porsche 911 feels spacious and airy up front, but the back seats will only do for kids – often you’ll be better off using them as an overflow for the boot
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 the heated seats are also excellent.
The track-focussed GT3 can be had with lightweight carbon-fibre bucket seats, too. These are still electronically adjustable, but offer phenomenal levels of comfort and support – particularly on track.
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 because both head and legroom are in short supply. Really, they’re only suitable for proper journeys for kids; and in the GT3 they’re removed completely.
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.
The tiny rear seats can also double as a handy bit of additional storage space for things like backpacks and other small bags. If you get a GT3 these seats will be removed, however, and if you option your GT3 with the Clubsport pack there’ll be a massive roll cage back there too. Just something to think about.
With its 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 longer trips will mean storing luggage in the back seat. Still, if there’s two of you that’s sufficient storage.
The Porsche 911 is available in various different flavours, some with two-wheel-drive, some with four, but all are blinding quick and engaging.
Revised turbochargers and a host of other revisions mean even the entry-level Carrera now produces 385hp. It’ll get from 0-60mph in just 4.0 seconds and crack 182mph, while it’s wide power band means you always have oomph when you put your foot down. Really, you won’t feel short-changed opting for the base model.
The Carrera S and 4S get the same twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six but produce 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 cars scythe from 0-120mph in under 14 seconds and with enough room can hit 190mph flat out.
It’s not just about the raw numbers with these, though. Porsche’s engineering excellence mean the engines are docile and smooth when you want them to be, and exciting when you’re in the mood.
Beyond these lies the Turbo S, which produces a monstrous 650hp and is so good at transferring it to the road via its automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive that it’ll hit 60mph from a standstill in just 2.5 seconds. Top speed? 205mph no less.
Then there’s the track-ready GT3 model. It’s larger 4.0-litre flat-six goes without turbochargers, and with 510hp on tap it isn’t quite as ballistically quick as the Turbo S. But as everything about this car has been derived directly from motorsport, it’s the most focussed, hardcore model in the range. At least for now. This rear-wheel-drive sports car will complete the 0-60mph dash in just 3.4 seconds, before maxing out at 198mph.
The GT3’s lack of turbos means it performs differently to other 911s, though: You don’t get the same level of torque from low revs, meaning you need to rev it out to get the best out of it. That’s no hardship, though: the engine makes a fantastic, raw sound and revs so quickly up to its astonishing 9,000rpm redline.
That contrasts to turbo 911s which offer 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. Very few true sports cars can get close to that figure.
The Porsche’s standard 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.
However, most 911s can be specced with manual gearboxes too. The more everyday 911s come with a seven – yes, seven – speed manual gearbox, which has relatively long gearing for better fuel economy but a nice action, making the car feel more engaging for driving purists. Seventh gear will only be needed at high speeds, so it doesn’t feel all that unusual.
The GT3 gets a six-speed manual gearbox with closer ratios for better acceleration and driver enjoyment. It’s a lovely gearbox that pairs well with the motorsport-derived engine. Both ‘normal’ 911 and GT3 manuals have a clever ‘auto-blip’ function which revs the engine just as your slotting home a downshift to make it super smooth.
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. Set up as such, you’ll have a far harder time getting the 911 out of shape.
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. The ride is firm but nicely controlled, too: lesser 911s with smaller wheels are more comfortable than higher-end models, but none are jarring.
Just be aware that the GT3 model, with its race car-derived suspension set up, is a slightly different story. It’s not unbearably harsh, but you certainly notice bumps in the road surface more than the standard 911, while there’s plenty of road and tyre noise. It’s likely you’ll be having too much fun to care, though, because the GT3’s razor-sharp steering and super-tight feel makes it a riot on the right road.
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 adjust its speed automatically if it detects a car in front or a change in speed limit, and make small corrections to the steering to keep it within its lane on the motorway. It can even bring the car to a complete halt and make off again automatically when the traffic starts moving again. It has automatic emergency braking too, which should help to prevent any collisions.
The Porsche 911 interior has a smart design, excellent quality and a list of options that make it highly customisable, even if it doesn’t make you feel as special as more exotic supercars.
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.