Now in its fifth decade of continual evolution, the 911 is more honed and polished than ever. It retains those classic looks which have made Porsche such an iconic carmaker, but underneath lies some of the most sophisticated technology around.
It’s still rear-engined, but it’s not intimidating to drive and offers incredible traction along with stunningly effective brakes. There’s a wide range of models available from the entry level Carrera up to the racetrack-inspired GT3 RS, but all offer storming performance along with that unmistakable Porsche engine soundtrack. In mid-2008 the 911 was face lifted with new engines, styling tweaks and the introduction of a twin-clutch automatic gearbox called PDK.
The 911 is powered by its trademark flat-six engine. The entry-level Carrera is a 3.6-litre which packs 325bhp while the more powerful engine in the Carrera S which is the model pictured is a 3.8-litre with an extra 30bhp. The 3.8-litre GTS adds a further 23bhp giving a total output of 408bhp. Then there’s the distinctive Turbo which has the 3.6-litre engine but fitted with twin turbos to deliver an immense 480bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 3.9 seconds.
At the top end of the scale are the hardcore GT models. There’s the GT3 and GT3 RS with track tuned suspension and a stripped out interior while the top of the range GT2 boasts an immense 530bhp and is astonishingly quick as you’d expect, yet as docile to drive at low speeds as any 911 model. It covers the 0-62mph time in a blink-of-an-eye 3.7 seconds. All models are offered with a six-speed manual while a five-speed tiptronic automatic is optional.
Out on open and twisting roads the 911s handling shines through, delivering a driving experience that feels safe, engaging and hugely rewarding. You can really feel what the car is doing as you drive. Porsche has continually developed the car thanks to the extensive knowledge it has gained from racing the 911 over many years on race tracks around the world.
It has also fitted sophisticated traction and stability controls to keep you safe. The S models feature more race-orientated, active shock absorbers and hardcore driving enthusiasts can go the whole hog with the optional lower, firmer sports suspension, which is on the GTS. The Carrera 4 and Turbo models offer four-wheel drive for even more traction. Town drivers will notice steering requires firm movements at slower speeds, but it’s not particularly heavy or awkward even when parking.
All models get a leather interior, electric windows and mirrors, climate control, on-board computer, high-quality stereo and stability control (which was previously optional on the old Carrera 2). The Carrera S model adds xenon lights and a more comprehensive stability control system while the GTS has a 44mm wider body at the rear and an increased track width of 32mm.
It may offer serious performance but the 911 isn’t an uncompromising car. In fact (aside from the hardcore GT3 RS model) it’s easy to drive everyday with a composed and forgiving ride. Rear visibility is pretty good too (compared to similarly expensive high performance cars) and thanks to well-weighted steering, driving the 911 in town is simple. There’s plenty of room for the two front passengers and the standard seats are supportive and comfortable. Optional sports seats can be chosen which pin you in even more, but even these are relatively easy to live with. There are two seats in the back, but they’re only really useable for kids or as extra luggage room.
Versatility isn’t usually a strength you’d associate with a sport car, but the 911 actually has a reasonably sized front boot. It’s pretty deep too and with 135 litres can carry a reasonable amount. There’s decent stowage in the front including lidded door pockets which double as armrests and even two clever cup holders which are concealed behind a strip above the glove box.
The interior of the 911 is similar to the Cayman and Boxster. It’s superbly built and finished with top-class materials and soft-touch plastics throughout. It may not be the most exciting of cabins, but it has an understated sophistication and a purposeful feel. The driving position is as perfect as they come – low slung with plenty of adjustment in both the seat and steering column. It means the 911 is comfortable and easy to live with day to day. The deep set dials and short gear lever add to the high performance feel.