One of the longest-running models of sports car in existence, the latest Porsche 911, which Porsche calls the 991, features a lower roof, more bulbous headlights and sharper rear lights. It's faster and more composed than ever, yet it also boasts impressive efficiency and surprising practicality. Although the Porsche 911 is bit of an institution, rivals like the Jaguar F-Type, BMW i8 and the latest Audi R8 means competition in this rarefied field is stiff.
The biggest changes to the 911 have taken place in the engine bay. If you go for either the Carrera or Carrera S, you now get a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six engine. This is the first time that the ‘normal’ 911 models have come with turbochargers, abandoning natural aspiration after 52 years of the model's production. Make no mistake; this is a major development.
The entry-level Carrera now gets a 365bhp version of the all-new 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat six, while the more expensive Carrera S gets a massive 414bhp – the same as a mid-nineties 911 Turbo. This means the new cars are considerably faster than their forbears, with 0-62mph coming up in 4.3 and 4.6 seconds for the Carrera S and Carrera respectively. These figures are thanks to a wide spread of power across the rev range, giving more performance at lower revs.
Not only are the latest 911s more powerful than their predecessors, they’re also more efficient and cheaper to run. When fitted with the standard with the seven-speed manual gearbox, the Carrera and Carrera S will return 34mpg and 32.5mpg respectively. This equates to respective CO2 emissions of 190g/km for the Carrera and 199g/km CO2 for the Carrera S.
Do note that if you order your 911 with Porsche's optional 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (called PDK by Porsche), economy, emissions and performance figures improve, with economy rising by roughly 4mpg and 0-62mph times dropping slightly.
Move up the 911 range and you’ll find the lightweight, track-focused 911 GT3 and GT3 RS models, as well as the more powerful Turbo and Turbo S models – but in all honesty the ‘basic’ Carrera will be more than enough for most. The GTS model, which sits between the Carrera and the GT3, completes the line-up.
As well as changes to the engine, the latest 911 boasts an interior that has received a major makeover inspired by the Porsche Panamera saloon. All 911s get leather upholstery as standard, with some of the more powerful models featuring some suede-like Alcantara fabric for a sportier look.
The Porsche 911 is deservedly considered to be one of the finest performance cars you can buy. It combines impressive straight-line speed with handling and road-holding that make driving it an absolute pleasure. It's comfortable when you need it to be, yet balanced and agile at speed, while the feedback that comes through the steering wheel makes you feel at one with the car.
Although 911 options can be eye-wateringly expensive, even the entry-level Carrera model is well equipped and beautifully finished. The car is relatively practical for a sports coupe, too.
The standard Carrera is an excellent car, but we’d highly recommend the Carrera S if you can stretch to it. It's got more performance available more of the time than the naturally-aspirated GTS and is a better all-rounder. Although expensive, it represents good value thanks to extra options, styling upgrades, improved handling and increased performance compared to the Carrera on which it's based. However, If you crave the more visceral thrills offered by the naturally aspirated GTS, then we couldn't really blame you and its residual values are likely to be stronger too.