"The Porsche 911 is a motoring icon, and rightly so. No other sports car can match its combination of build quality, performance and driver appeal."
Porsche's 911 is the sports car by which all others are judged. Continual enhancements have turned it into a car with an incredible depth of talent. Even in entry-level guise it's adept at delivering thrills on road or track, while it's just as easy to drive to the shops. That's true even of the high-performance models. The flat-six petrol engine is 3.6-litres in capacity in the Carrera, or 3.8-litres in the Carrera S; and both models can accelerate from 0-62mph in less than five seconds. In Turbo, GT2 and GT3 guises, the 911 is simply faster and even more sensational to drive.
It doesn’t matter if your 911 is rear or four-wheel drive, has a 3.6 or 3.8-litre engine, an automatic or manual gearbox, a metal or glass roof, as all are exciting to drive. The steering is superb, with beautiful weighting and quick accurate responses. That's particularly true of the track-focused GT3 and GT3 RS models, which offer an extremely pure and involving driving experience. All variants have strong brakes, while optional carbon ceramic brakes are offered if you plan on taking your 911 regularly to the track. Porsche's PDK automatic gearbox is super quick and makes driving in traffic easier. However, the clutch and gearshift in the manual is so delightfully crisp that it's difficult to recommend the automatic. The 341bhp of the standard Carrera is plenty, but the S's 380bhp adds more pace. The GT3 and GT3 RS use engines derived from motor racing, and deliver their power instantaneously. The massive surge from the turbocharged Turbo and GT2 RS models - the latter having 612bhp - delivers incredible performance figures, with the Turbo S accelerating from 0-62mph in just 3.3 seconds.
For a car with such performance potential, the standard versions of the 911 are comfortable enough to be used on a daily basis. The seats are supportive and the view out clear. There's little noise from the engine unless it's pushed, but all 911s suffer from intrusive tyre noise. The track-focused GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 are noisier due to less sound deadening, while the stiff suspension can be tiring in town or over longer distances.
Electronic stability control, driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags are standard, while the 911's mighty brakes should help avoid an accident in the first place. Reliability is proven, with Porsche engineering its 911 to last. The build quality can’t be faulted, but some of the plastics used inside feel a little low-rent given the 911's premium price tag.
The 911 is rightfully billed as a practical supercar, and the deep front luggage compartment can swallow a surprising amount of luggage. It’ll need to be in soft bags though, as the space is an awkward shape. There are small rear seats, but these are best left for very occasional use or for small children. They fold to create a large luggage area behind the driver and passenger - which can be accessed on the Targa model by a handy glass hatchback. Given the 911 in its many guises can compete with anything from a Nissan GT-R to a Ferrari 458 Italia, its ability to carry people and luggage is impressive.
Value for money
Across the entire range the Porsche 911 looks like a good value purchase. It's likely that most buyers will spend more money on satellite navigation, phone connection and better audio systems, but that's true of all its rivals. The Turbo looks good value when you consider it has the performance to match exotic supercars, as do the GT3 models. All versions come with a decent base level of equipment, but it's the 911's performance relative to its price that makes it such good value.
The 911 comes with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty and while servicing will cost more than your average family hatchback, it’ll be cheaper than most other supercars. Insurance groups are high, but fuel consumption is surprisingly manageable if you drive it sensibly. The Carrera can return nearly 30mpg on the combined cycle, and it emits 225g/km of CO2. Obviously the greater the performance the greater the running costs, but they’re all worth it.