Porsche 911 Review
The Porsche 911 remains the ultimate everyday sportscar, with stunning performance, agile handling and surprising practicality.
Strengths & weaknesses
- Strong performance
- Agile and entertaining to drive
- Surprising practicality
- Not cheap to buy
- Expensive options
- Feels big
The Porsche 911 has been around in various forms for more than fifty years, but throughout that time it has maintained its status as one of the finest sportscars money can buy. Fast, agile, beautifully built and surprisingly practical it has changed massively over the past half century, yet through it all its stuck with its quirky rear-engined layout and retained the same overall shape - even as its external dimensions have ballooned.
Like all its predecessors this Porsche is known as the 911, but hardcore fans of the brand will refer to it by the firm’s internal codename of 992, which distinguishes from its 991 predecessor. Confusing? Yes. But also necessary as classified adverts have now started stating these numbers to differentiate from the numerous 911s that all look extremely similar. Yet while the codes change the Porsche 911’s rivals remain as before, covering everything from hardcore sportscars like the Audi R8 V10, Aston Martin Vantage and McLaren 570S, through to grand touring coupes such as the Lexus RC500 and BMW 850.
It’s this broad spread of ability that makes the Porsche 911 such a desirable proposition. As ever, it’s one of the few sportscars that can accommodate four people - although in reality the small seats in the rear are only really for children, or very small and flexible adults. Treat it as a two-seater and its way more practical than any rival, as the rear seats fold flat to create a large load area, while under the bonnet (remember that the engine is in the rear) is a 132-litre boot - the Audi R8 can only swallow 112-litres of luggage.
Up front there’s plenty of space, plus a wide range of seat adjustment. For the driver in particular getting comfortable isn’t a problem, while the low slung driving position, supportive seats and high centre console help you feel ensconced. Better still, the pedals are perfectly placed and weighted, as is the steering, which helps make you feel connected to the car and confident the moment you get rolling. Visibility is also excellent, with far better vision front and rear than any of its rivals.
Of course the cabin is beautifully finished, with high grade materials used throughout and top notch finish - the only rattles in here are likely to be loose change in the cupholders. Soft leather is standard for the seats, but you can go further and for extra cash add leather to the dashboard and doors, plus there’s the option of various wood, carbonfibre or aluminium trim inserts. The sky, and your budget, is the limit when it comes to personalisation.
While the Porsche 911’s basic layout and quality remain unchanged, the interior is now laden with the latest tech. Ahead of the driver is a traditional analogue rev counter, but it’s flanked by a pair of seven-inch configurable digital dials, while the entertainment gets a vast 10.9 inch screen that’s easy to use and features crisp graphics. Less impressive are the touch sensitive buttons scattered down the centre console, while can be hard to identify on the move and don’t have a positive action.
The technology extends to the driving, but where many manufacturers have concentrated on systems that boost safety by taking control away from the driver, Porsche’s system’s aim to enhance the driver experience and performance. There’s the standard torque vectoring diff that automatically shuffles power to the outside rear-wheel to improve the car’s turn-in to a corner and to stop it running wide as the front wheels lose grip, plus you can add four-wheel steering that turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speed and the same way at higher speeds, boosting both agility and stability.
That’s not to say Porsche has forgotten about safety. There’s semi-autonomous emergency braking, six airbags and electronic stability control, while adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist can be added as options. There’s also lane change assist, which warns you if there’s a car in your blind spot if you’re about to overtake. And the Porsche’s brakes are some of the best in the business, delivering powerful and tireless stopping. Even so, those wanting greater safety aids should look to models such as the BMW 850i.
What you lose in safety kit you gain in an invigorating driving experience, because the Porsche 911 is brilliant to drive. You expect the huge reserves of grip and the shattering straightline performance, what’s more impressive is the way the car involves you in the process. The steering has just the right amount of weighting and feeds back all the information from the road allowing you to push the car with confidence through a series of bends. What’s more, the stability control is perfectly calibrated subtly helping keep everything on track.
If there’s a criticism it’s that the Porsche 911 is now quite a wide car, and on some narrower roads it can feel just a little bit unwieldy - although that’s a criticism you can level at almost any sportscar in this class. That said, the excellent visibility from the driver’s seat helps make it easier to judge gaps than in cars like the Audi R8 and Aston Martin Vantage.
The upshot of the Porsche 911’s larger size is greater refinement and comfort. Not only is there more space inside, but the noise levels have been reduced, making the car a fine choice for long motorway journeys. And with the standard adaptive dampers its possible to soften the ride at the touch of a button. It’s still a sportscar, though, so even with the suspension at its smoothest it’s still far firmer than a standard saloon.
|Warranty||3 years / unlimited miles|
|Boot size||132 litres|
|Tax (min to max)||£1280 in first year, £145 thereafter|
Best Porsche 911 for...
Best for Economy – Porsche 911 Carrera S
You’re never going to buy a 911 for its low running costs, but the Carrera S is the most frugal, promising as much as 28.5mpg
Best for Families – Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet S
With the roof down loading small kids in and out of the small rear seats is a doddle, plus there’s handy boot in the nose.
Best for Performance – Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
Immense traction off the line means the 4S is capable of the 0-62ph sprint in just 3.4 seconds.
One to Avoid – Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet 4S
It’s a magnificent car, but most won’t need the expensive four-wheel addition for what is essentially a cruiser
November 2018: New Porsche 911 revealed and Los Angeles Motor Show
April 2019: Porsche 911 arrives in the UK in Carrera S and Carrera 4S guises, each with a choice of coupe or cabriolet bodystyles
Understanding Porsche 911 names
Currently the Porsche 911 is only available in Carrera guise, which is essentially the entry point to the line-up. Expect other trim levels to arrive over the next year or so.
There is a choice of standard coupe, which is simply called the Carrera, and a convertible Cabriolet model. The latter features a fully powered fabric roof.
Transmission and engine 4S
You can choose from either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive layouts, the latter called the 4. The S denotes that this has the 450hp turbocharged engine. In due course there will be less powerful non-S mode.
This acronym stands for the catchy Porsche Doppelkupplung, which is the brand’s eight-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox. It will be joined in the future by a seven-speed manual option.
Porsche 911 Engines
Petrol: S, 4S
At present there’s just one engine to choose from, but such is the performance from the turbocharged 3.0-litre that any disappointment will be short lived. Not only does it dish-up scintillating acceleration, it sounds the part too, with a growling and howling delivery as you work it hard
Unusually the turbocharged six-cylinder is housed at the rear of the car, where it effectively hangs out behind the rear axle. Not only does this help package more space into the interior, the extra weight over the driven wheels boosts traction, further enhancing the Porsche 911s performance. For example, the standard Carrera S can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds.
Add the optional Sport Chrono Pack, which adds no more power but includes a host of upgrades including launch control, and this time dips to 3.5 seconds. The similarly equipped four-wheel drive 4S chops a further tenth of a second off this figure. By comparison the more powerful 477hp Lexus RC500 can only manage a time of 4.4 seconds.
Yet it’s the Porsche’s pace in the real world that’s really breathtaking. Thanks to the use of turbochargers, the 911 develops a muscular 530Nm of torque at just 2300rpm, meaning there’s plenty of performance in reserve at low revs - perfect for fast and safe overtaking or sprinting up long motorway inclines. Few cars feel as quick on the road.
It sounds good too, particularly with the optional (and expensive!) sports exhaust, which liberates both extra volume and some cheeky cracks and pops from the tailpipe during gearchanges. Happily this system can be quietened down at the touch of a button - making for a calmer commute and happier neighbours.
Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that the Porsche 911 combines this electrifying turn of speed with decent fuel economy. The combination of relatively small engine, good aerodynamics and a stop-start function that cuts the engine when stationary results in fuel returns of nearly 30mpg - not at all bad given the car’s performance potential.
Currently the only gearbox option is Porsche’s twin-clutch PDK set-up, but that’s no bad thing. The eight-speed unit is one the best of its type, delivering gearchanges so smooth they are almost imperceptible. Plus you can take manual control using the handy steering wheel mounted paddles. A seven-speed manual is due to be made available at a later date.
26.4 - 28.5mpg
3.5 - 3.9sec
190 - 191mph
25.0 - 27.2mpg
3.4 - 3.8sec
188 - 190mph
Porsche 911 Trims
There’s just one trim choice for now. The biggest decision is whether you want two or four-wheel drive, and a coupe or a cabriolet bodystyle. That said, the Carrera S is reasonably well specified, while the extensive (and expensive) options list means you can tailor your 911 to your heart’s content.
The standard roster of equipment is fairly generous, with heated and leather-trimmed seats, LED headlamps, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, dual-zone climate control and parking sensors front and rear. You also get 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive dampers and Porsche’s clever torque vectoring limited slip differential, which both boosts traction and helps the car maintain its grip for longer during cornering.
Despite this healthy tally of kit it’s easy to get carried away with the options. Unlike many manufacturers Porsche doesn’t really offer packs of options bundled together, preferring instead numerous (and we really mean numerous) individual options. Get carried away ticking boxes and your entry-level Carrera S can soon cost £120,000 or more!
In reality, many of the options (such as colour coded seatbelts and wheel badges) are nothing more than gimmicky personalization extras. If you’ve got a bit of cash to spend, then it’s best to concentrate on the mechanical upgrades, such as the four-wheel steering set-up that makes the car even more nimble, particularly around town. And if you’re planning to spend lots of time on track days, then consider the carbon ceramic brakes and Sport Chrono Pack, the latter offering lap timing functions, launch control and adaptive engine mounts that subtly boost the car’s agility on circuit.
Porsche 911 Reliability and warranty
Porsche covers all its cars with a fairly standard three-year warranty, but with the added bonus that this period features unlimited mileage cover. Of course you can extend this guarantee at extra cost, while trips to the dealer should be minimised by lengthy service periods of two years and 20,000 mile.
The latest 911 is too new to have featured in Auto Express’ annual Driver Power satisfaction survey, but many of the Porsche’s mechanical parts are heavily developed versions of its predecessor’s, meaning the car should be robust. This is borne out by the experience of owners of other Porsche models, who highlight the car’s are well made and reliable. However, if there’s a complaint it’s that parts, servicing and general running costs are expensive.
Used Porsche 911
Given how new the latest Porsche 911 is, it’s no surprise to find that there currently aren’t any used examples on Buyacar. In fact, it’s likely that new owners are only just taking delivery of the first batch of UK cars, so it’ll be a month or so before the first used examples start to appear on forecourts.
Demand for the new car is likely to be high, and given the history and prestige of the 911 it’s highly likely that the first pre-owned examples will change hands for more than the new list price. Once demand cools, however, prices will drop a little and you should have your pick of low mileage nearly new 911s. What’s more, these cars are likely to be loaded with options, so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. As with choosing new, the mechanical upgrades are more beneficial and likely to have stronger resale values when you come to sell.