Lighter, faster and more fuel efficient, is the new Porsche 911 the sports car benchmark?
What is it?
The 991 is the latest evolution of the classic Porsche 911 that was born to the world back in 1963. Compared to its predecessor, the 997, this newcomer is lighter, faster and more fuel-efficient. It also happens to up the comfort ante thanks to a slightly longer wheelbase (+100mm) that improves both ride quality and overall interior space.
Indeed, slip inside the cabin and you’ll notice increased legroom both fore and aft. Other major advancements include an electro-mechanical power steering system as well as a seven-speed manual gearbox – a world first. At the moment two models are available to purchase: the entry-level 3.4-litre Carrera and a slightly hotter 3.8-litre Carrera S.
How does it look?
Way better than the 997. In fact I think that the 991 is the sauciest 911 to hit our mean streets since the 993 broke cover back in the 1990s. And it all starts at the nose of the beast where you will notice a wider front end that is home to a far more aggressive apron.
Cut with no less than three air intakes, this new bumper incorporates a pair of daytime running lights: bright LED strips designed to enhance visibility and splice some extra ocular menace into the mix. Viewed in silhouette, other cosmetic tweaks include a more convex windscreen as well as a lower roofline.
Complemented by a tapering glasshouse, the standout feature of this new Porsche’s architecture must surely be its sleeker derriere. Sharper and more athletic than the one that graced the 997, it houses a pop-up spoiler and a set of redesigned taillights – slim LED units that give a post-modern nod the 911s of the last century. Subtle. Stylish. Very effective.
Step inside the 991 and you’ll discover an interior that feels far more focussed around the needs of the driver. And headlining this transformation is a new, Panamera-esque centre console that rises up from between the two front seats. Not only does it bring the gear lever closer to both the steering wheel and your fingertips (essential for sporty driving), it also improves overall ergonomics with a switchgear layout that is noticeably more intuitive.
Purists will dig the fact that the classic five-dial instrument cluster – dominated by the centre-mounted tachometer – still resides in front of the small leather-wrapped steering wheel. Supportive sports seats form part of the price tag, as does a new dual-zone climate control system. Though various interior colours and trim materials are available as an option, Porsche’s build quality comes standard.
What’s it like to drive?
Brilliant. In fact no matter which of the two models you ultimately choose to shack-up with, both will reward you with an utterly sublime driving experience. The Porsche 911 has always had a reputation for being an everyday sports car and here, in 991 guise, it’s cushy enough to rival most executive saloons.
Overall refinement has been improved considerably over that of the 997, which means that there’s now hardly any trace of road or wind noise. Smooth and easy-going when you want it to be, the new 991 is also a seriously sharp bit of kit when you pop it into Sport Mode and unleash a little anger across your favourite back road bitumen.
At launch I drove it around the Yas Marina Grand Prix Circuit and found it an incredibly easy sports car to drive on the limit. For whereas previous incarnations of the 911 still required a fair amount of respect when it came to swift changes of direction – allowances for Porsche’s rear-engined chassis layout – that extended wheelbase now makes the 991 feel almost Cayman-like in the way it slices through corners. Diehard 911 fans might lament losing this sting in the tail but everyday drivers will most certainly rejoice.
As usual there’s a massive amount of feedback telegraphing through both the chassis and that new electro-mechanical power steering setup. Granted, the latter isn’t quite as crisp as the old hydraulic setup used in the 997 but it’s still a dynamic class act. Though a seven-speed manual comes standard on the 991 I only got to experience the optional PDK, which is, by all accounts, probably the best dual-clutch system on the market today. Smooth in Normal Mode, it’s absolutely ferocious when placed into Sport Plus; swapping and holding cogs with an intuition that seems almost human.
Finally, both of the available engine variants pack enough power to keep even the most hardened speed junkies entertained. Happy to spin well above the 7000rpm mark, I was most impressed with the new 3.4-litre flat-six bolted into the entry-level Carrera. Mixing enviable economy figures (8.2l/100km meets 194g/km) with some fairly substantial muscle, it’s all you’ll ever need to get the most out of the 991.
Any special features?
Many. But the one that blew my mind the most was the brand new Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC). Available as an optional extra only on the Carrera S, PDCC is an active driver aid that, through the use of hydraulic stabilising actuators, works by eliminating body roll through corners. Optimising wheel camber angles to suit real-time driving conditions, this system culminates in far greater stability and noticeably improved traction.
Another great feature can be found in something called Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV). Optional on the Carrera and standard on the Carrera S, PTV operates in conjunction with the rear differential lock to provide maximum poise through corners. How does it work?
Well it basically improves steering response by braking the inside rear wheel. At the same time most of the drive force is then sent to the outside wheel, thereby increasing the amount of yaw around the vertical axis. In layman’s terms this translates into a sports car that feels far more nimble and direct during hard cornering.
Should you buy one?
Well I can’t think of a reason not to. Merging sedan-like liveability with exceptional performance, the all-new Porsche 911 makes a massive amount of purchasing sense no matter which way you slice it. It’s also rather well priced too. In fact a standard, bare bones Carrera can be yours for under R1-million – a lot of car for the money. Factor in Porsche’s great aftersales service and it becomes even more of a no-brainer.
The Facts: Porsche 991
Engine: 3436cc flat-six / 3800cc flat-six (Carrera S)*
Power: 257kW @ 7400rpm / 294kW @ 7400rpm*
Torque: 390Nm @ 5600rpm / 440Nm @ 5600rpm*
Transmission: seven-speed manual or PDK
0-100km/h: 4.8 seconds / 4.5 seconds*
Top Speed: 289km/h / 302km/h*
Fuel: 9.0l/100km / 9.5l/100km* (combined)
CO2: 212g/km / 224g/km*
Price: From R989 000 / R1 133 000*
Seriously quick in a straight line
Easy to drive on the limit
Maybe a tad too refined for the 911 diehards
Not much else – a perfect package
Have to say the 911 epitomises sports cars for me and the latest is no exception.
Sigh… under a million eh Thomas?
The Porshe 911 certainly is a thing of beauty. I have always been a fan of the car since it first came out, and I always like to see how each iteration differs from the last. The newest one looks like it is the best one yet!
The Porshe certainly is a thing of beauty. I have always been a fan of the car since it first came out, and I always like to see how each iteration differs from the last. The newest one looks like it is the best one yet!