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Porsche 911 Review

Introduction

In the world of sports cars, there’s an undisputed king: the Porsche 911. Although it can trace its roots all the way back to the undoubtedly famous but relatively uninspiring Volkswagen Beetle, it has risen to the opposite end of the automotive spectrum.

That’s despite a slightly flawed architecture. Most high-performance cars aim to put the engine between the axles, but the 911 has always had its engine mounted right at the back of the car. It was a setup that made classic models notoriously difficult to handle. But Porsche has refined this unappetising recipe to make the 911 one of the best-handling sports cars you can lease.

The latest model follows suit, but it has all the trappings of modern motoring, including plenty of standard equipment and a ton of 21st-century features. But do those changes ruin a much-loved model, or do they make this one of the most appealing 911s ever built?


Select's rating score* - 4.6 / 5

At a Glance

Unless you’re a big Porsche geek, you might find it difficult to tell the current 911– dubbed the 992, just to make life confusing – from its predecessor, the even more confusingly named 991. Or, more specifically 991.2. Whatever the codenames, the basic recipe is the same: a long, low bonnet and a central glasshouse with a curved rear. You know the drill.

Inside, there’s a sporty but very high-quality cabin with an ultra-modern touchscreen and digital instrument displays either side of the analogue rev counter that sits in front of the driver. Manual models get a short, stubby gear lever, while the automatics come with a little microswitch gear selector in the centre console.


Hiding behind the tiny rear seats is the beating heart – a horizontally opposed flat-six engine that drives the rear wheels or, in the case of the ‘4’ models, all four. The result is explosive power and incredible performance, as well as sublime handling balance. Combined with the luxurious interior, it makes the 911 one of the world’s great premium sports cars.

Key Features

No matter what BMW might tell you, the 911 is the ultimate driving machine. Key to its charm is the way it handles, despite the engine being slung out at the back of the car. Normally, that would be a recipe for instability, but Porsche’s engineers have honed the 911 to create one of the most engaging and agile cars on the road.

But there’s more to the 911 than just handling. Porsche has fitted a high-tech instrument cluster with customisable screens either side of the central tachometer. The analogue dial is wonderfully machined, but the juxtaposition of old and new gives you all the features you expect from a modern premium car, along with a sense of focus and sportiness. That means there’s a satellite navigation screen in the cluster, as well as track-orientated features including a stopwatch for lap timing. Admittedly, it isn’t much use on the M11, but if track driving is your thing, it might have its charms.


Performance & Drive

This is the 911’s raison d’etre. It’s a driver’s car at heart, and that’s the case whether you get the entry-level Carrera or a range-topping Turbo. But even in the confines of the 911 range, there are different cars with very different characteristics. Which you prefer will be down to taste, as well as outright performance. And, of course, your budget.

Things kick off with the ‘entry-level’ Carrera, which comes with a 385hp 3.0-litre flat-six petrol engine. And confusingly, although it isn’t a Turbo model, it’s turbocharged. Go figure. However it does it, you’ll be able to get from 0-62mph in just over four seconds, but selecting the optional Sport Chrono package will cut that to four seconds flat.

Moving up, you can have the Carrera 4, which comes with all-wheel drive, or you can have the Carrera S, which gets 450hp and is also available in ‘4S’ all-wheel-drive format. Then there’s the 480hp GTS, which is supposed to bridge the gap between the S and the sportier models with a more track-focussed edge.

Above that, there’s the track-bred GT3, which uses a 4.0-litre engine without turbochargers to produce 510hp, and the Turbo, which has all-wheel-drive and a massive 580hp. But the daddy is the Turbo S– a high-performance monster with 650hp and the ability to dash from 0-62mph in just 2.7 seconds. At full chat, it’ll do more than 200mph.


As impressive as that is, the entire range is fast. Even the Carrera is mighty quick in a straight line, and it all happens with the tuneful six-cylinder engine wailing away at the back. The sound is spectacular, but the way this car takes corners is even better. The steering is beautifully direct and there’s plenty of feel, so you know exactly what those wheels are doing. Where your eyes lead, your hands follow and the car responds, darting into corners and pivoting around your hips.

That’s just the Carrera. Stepping up to the S simply adds a little power and performance, while opting for the GTS gives you much firmer suspension that won’t be to everyone’s taste. The Carrera and Carrera S feel softer and more pliant on long drives, whereas the GTS is a bit more hardcore.


Not as hardcore, it must be said, as the GT3. That’s an awesome, mind-bending piece of kit that will slake enthusiasts’ desire for a road-going racer. It’s even more direct than the GTS, not to mention slightly less weighty. It’s the ultimate track-day weapon. But the bragging rights belong to the Turbo and Turbo S. Both are outrageously fast, accelerating at bewildering speed and offering all that wonderful 911 agility.

Our pick of the range, however, is the 4S. With the stability and security of four-wheel-drive it’s more usable in inclement weather and it’s plenty powerful enough. It’s also soft and comfortable enough for long drives, while still handling like a dream. It’s the perfect sports car.

Running Costs & Emissions

Let’s be honest, nobody leases a Porsche 911 to keep their running costs down. Even the most economical models are pretty thirsty, with the standard 911 Carrera coupe returning around 27mpg. The figures for the S and GTS models are in much the same ballpark, and even opting for the convertible or Targa models makes little difference. However, opting for the high-performance Turbo models will reduce the economy, and the race-inspired GT3 is even thirstier, barely topping 21mpg.

It’s the same story when it comes to emissions, which will probably rule the 911 out for some company car drivers. The standard Carrera coupe emits 233-245g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, and that figure rises among some of the more performance-orientated models. Each and every one is in the top tax bracket for company car drivers.


Interior & Technology

Porsche is known for its sporting prowess, but the most breathtaking thing about the 911 and its stablemates is the quality inside. If you think Audi, BMW and the like set the standard for premium cars, think again. Porsche’s attention to detail is unbelievable, and every inch of the 911 cabin feels like an ode to quality and engineering.

It feels incredibly solid and robust, but it’s tactile and luxurious at the same time. And it looks as good as it feels. The design is minimalist and clean, with a simple centre console full of haptic ‘buttons’, which replace the old switchgear, while a touchscreen infotainment system dominates the dashboard.


In front of the driver, there’s a big analogue tachometer that’s as chunky and as precisely engineered as a luxury watch, while two digital screens on either side offer customisable displays to add extra information, including a neat little navigation display. In truth, the two screens’ use is often limited because the steering wheel hides part of the display, but that’s about the only criticism we can find.

If nit-picking were our bag, we’d also single out some of the touchscreen menus for being a bit too fiddly, but that’s about it. It’s a brilliantly thought-out cabin and the technology feels useful and helpful, without ever being gratuitous.

Practicality & Boot Space

Practicality is arguably the 911’s greatest weakness, but then its rivals aren’t exactly roomy. With the engine hiding behind the rear seats, the boot is a kind of tub that’s hidden under what would ordinarily be the bonnet. It isn’t massive, but 132 litres is hardly pathetic. It’s more than enough for your shopping or a couple of weekend bags.


Sadly, the back seats aren’t much more useful. They’re just about acceptable for kids on shorter trips, but adults will struggle for leg- or head-room. It’s probably better to treat them as a kind of glorified parcel shelf, giving you even more luggage capacity. Combine that with the ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, and you have a useful amount of space for a road trip or a couple’s holiday.

Safety

With everything else about the 911 being so well engineered, it seems fairly certain it’ll be among the safest models in its class. But given the car has never been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, the European New Car Assessment Programme, it’s difficult to give a definitive answer. That said, every modern Porsche that has been tested received five stars, so Porsche has form when it comes to building safe vehicles.

It has certainly stuffed the 911 with technology to help make it as safe as possible. There’s brake assistance technology that can sense other vehicles and pedestrians, as well as cruise control and parking sensors – both of which are fitted as standard. And there’s an ‘eCall’ system that makes emergency calls when the car is involved in an accident.


Options

When you lease a 911, the first choice you need to make is selecting the body style. Not only does the 911 come in standard coupe form, but you can also have a convertible with a folding fabric roof. Or, if you’d rather, you can have the Targa with its rear superstructure and a retractable panel between the roll hoop and the windscreen.

That aside, the 911 range is mostly differentiated by the engines on offer. The standard Carrera and Carrera S are similarly equipped, but there’s a noticeable difference in power. Engines aside, both come with two-zone climate control, a touchscreen infotainment system and heated front seats.


Admittedly, there are a handful of differences in upholstery and seats, but by and large the range is broadly similar. The main tweaks are found on the surface, where performance and design features show up most. GTS models, for example, come with lowered suspension and black trim, while the GT3 gets a selection of other aerodynamic touches, including an enormous spoiler. The Turbo models look more aggressive, too, with massive air vents and bulging bodykits.

But as is so often the way with Porsche, the key to the 911 range is in the options list. It’s absolutely enormous, no matter which version you choose. Not only is there a wide range of colour schemes and wheels available, you can pick the goodies that suit you best. Whether that’s sporty additions such as the Sport Chrono pack, or more aesthetic features such as the sports exhaust system.

Rival Cars

The Porsche 911’s broad range means it has any number of rivals from across the sports car spectrum. Perhaps its closest competitors include the gorgeous Jaguar F-Type and the high-tech Audi R8, as well as the muscular Mercedes-AMG GT. Other alternatives include the stunning Lexus LC, the BMW 8 Series and even the somewhat less refined Ford Mustang GT.

Elsewhere in the automotive marketplace, there’s the Mercedes-AMG C63 in Coupe or Convertible form, the Aston Martin Vantage, or the Ferrari 296 GTB. Or even the Ferrari Portofino M. Then there are some less powerful alternatives, including the Toyota Supra and the BMW Z4.

But perhaps the deadliest rivals come from within the Porsche ranks – particularly lower down the 911 range. The 4.0-litre versions of the 718 Cayman and its convertible sister, the 718 Boxster, run the 911 very close in terms of handling prowess, if not in terms of comfort or practicality. Nevertheless, they have plenty of quality and performance to burn.


Verdict & Next Steps

The 911 has long been the benchmark for sports car greatness, and the new model is a chip off the old block. A development of the age-old, tried-and-tested recipe, the latest version takes everything that was brilliant about its predecessor, but adds a modern sheen. The latest technology, incredible performance and glorious handling are all merged into one compact, aerodynamic and beautifully built package. It remains the gold standard.

Where to next?

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Porsche 911

**Correct as of 23/11/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £7,624.71 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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