Porsche 911 coupe (2011-2019)
“The Porsche 911 has evolved further from its original formula, but its appeal remains intact – it still fills the gap between sports car and supercar with aplomb”
- One of the best cars to drive
- Improved engine efficiency
- Better ride comfort
- Pricey to own
- Expensive options
- Not hugely exclusive
Few cars can claim the 'iconic' epithet with quite as much authority as the Porsche 911. It has, after all, been in production in one form or another since 1964, and is seen by many as the definitive sports car.
The 911 has evolved over the years, embracing the latest in technology while retaining its traditional rear-engined, rear wheel drive layout. There's a broad choice of models to compete against a wider range of rivals than ever before; the 911 now competes against cars as disparate as the hybrid BMW i8 and the outrageous Lamborghini Huracan, with the Jaguar F-Type, Audi R8, Mercedes-AMG GT coupe and Aston Martin Vantage each finding an equivalent in the 911 lineup.
When Porsche aficionados mention the design code 991, they are referring to the latest version, which has a lower roofline, more prominent headlamps and curvier rear lights compared to previous models. The same enthusiasts will also appreciate how the 991 is the fastest and easiest 911 to drive yet, without sacrificing the famous 911 'feel'.
While the 911's flat-six engine survives as a defining feature, it has evolved to be well and truly state-of-the-art. In a real break from tradition, Carrera and Carrera S models have moved away from natural aspiration to use twin turbochargers, boosting performance while enhancing economy and reducing emissions. Purists need not be concerned, though – the changes have done nothing to damage the 911's responses and the driving experience is as rich and rewarding as ever. The engine’s power is made easier to deploy by the Carrera 4 and 4S models, which have four wheel drive.
The 'entry-level' Carrera and lightweight Carrera T have 365bhp, and the S has 414bhp – as much as the range-topping 911 Turbo had in the mid-nineties. This means that even the slowest 911 can despatch the 0-62mph sprint in just 4.6 seconds, with the Carrera S taking 4.3. If you want even more speed, the 444bhp GTS will oblige, while the 533bhp Turbo and 572bhp Turbo S are positively explosive, with a 0-62mph time of three seconds dead.
For many, though, the non-turbocharged GT3 is the star of the show. It uses a 4.0-litre engine which has been painstakingly tuned to 493bhp without the use of turbochargers, for utterly instantaneous accelerator response and a 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds. The same attention to detail has been paid to the GT3's suspension, brakes and steering to make for a hugely rewarding machine that's best enjoyed on a racing circuit.
The 911 GT2 RS is the most extreme 911 and the latest version’s 690bhp turbocharged 3.8-litre engine makes it the most powerful 911 yet. A 0-62mph time of just 2.8 seconds is indicative of a car that’s too fast to fully exploit legally or safely on a public road. Although a feat of engineering and a thrilling car to drive, the GT2 RS is less usable than other cars in the range and eye-wateringly expensive at over £200,000.
While the latest 911 has stayed relatively true to its heritage in many respects, its interior has certainly benefited from lessons learnt with the Porsche Panamera saloon, and the dashboard is a lot easier to use and more aesthetically pleasing as a result. Every 911 has leather upholstery as standard, while Alcantara suede finishes lend a sportier edge to higher-performance models.
There's a long list of eye-wateringly expensive optional extras, but when its high performance is taken into account, the entry-level Carrera looks very reasonable value, and is a remarkably easy sports coupe to live with day-to-day. Porsche has a strong reputation for owner satisfaction, too. If you want the driving experience to be enhanced further still without moving too far up the 911 range, the Carrera T offers extra excitement without blowing the budget.
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 roadholding 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.
Our favourite 911 is the GTS. It's a terrific all-rounder, offering more power and focus than the standard model, as well as more usability than the uncompromising GT3 and GT2 RS models. The styling tweaks give it an aesthetic edge over the entry-level model too. While the 911 Turbo and Turbo S are considerably more expensive, they offer scarcely believable performance. In truth, whichever 911 you choose it’s highly unlikely you’ll be disappointed.