Porsche 911 MK 991 Coupe (2011 - ) Expert review
Read the Porsche 911 car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
- The best all-round sports car on sale
- GT-like ride quality and refinement
- Easier to live with than ever
- Very stingy equipment levels
- High running costs
- Small rear seats
At a glance
The Porsche 911 is not exactly a silhouette ripe for reinvention, but the current model is the longest, widest and tallest version yet, however the strong proportions remain. It features a new set of angular looking daytime-running LED headlights, the wing mirrors have been relocated into the doors and 20-inch alloys now come as standard on the Carrera S. Cheaper models have smaller alloys, and the engine, trim and variant (Turbo, GTS, GT3, etc) will largely determine how the car looks, with the sportier variants gaining plenty of go-faster add-ons. As with all 911s, you can also customise everything, with loads of different options for the wheels, paint, brakes, badges, and so on, so that no matter what your taste, you'll find a 911 to suit it.
Desire is in the detail, from the front facia that gives a nod to the old five-dial layout, right through to the new 911-shaped key. The craftsmanship of a device like this matters as you’ll inevitably spend hours caressing it, watching it, flaunting it. The cabin architecture is clean to give a greater impression of space, the centre console is now very Panamera-like in function and feel with a wide centre console festooned with different buttons either side of the gear stick. All the materials from the leather to the real aluminium slivers in the doors are as high in quality as we have seen on any sports car, although the cabin does feel decidedly old school in layout, and a touch over complicated when compared with the likes of the latest Audi R8 and Mercedes AMG GT. The pedal and seat position is nigh-on perfect, visibility is actually surprisingly good for this type of car, and all shapes and sizes of driver will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel.
If ever there was a brief for an everyday supercar, the Porsche 911 nails it. In the car park, it’s still relatively low key and compact so remains one of the easier sports cars to live with. There’s a reasonable amount of load space up front where the front boot remains unchanged at 135-litres, while the longer wheelbase has afforded some extra cabin space that makes it easier than ever to access those apologetically small rear seats. Having said that, a lot of the 911's rivals don't have rear seats at all, and kids and child seats will both be right at home in the back of the Porsche, rather than left at home altogether. Yet Porsche hasn’t forgotten the basics: the seats are well shaped and supportive but offer a near-perfect driving position, there’s little if any pedal offset while drivers of the optional PDK gearbox can now spec traditional wheel-mounted paddle shifters rather than Porsche’s ‘push to change up, pull to change down’ system. Only the coffee cup holders provide a slight area of nervousness as once they’ve unfurled, rather beautifully from the dashboard, they do cause your beverage to hover precariously over a lot of those important electronic controls.
Ride and handling
Driving the Porsche 911 still has that memorable and beautiful balance of instinct and analysis when you want to push – it doesn’t bully the road into submission like a Nissan GT-R, but feels more fluid in working with the driver. Yet the longer wheelbase has also given this car more GT-like pretensions when you need to hit the motorway. Most pleasingly, the tiresome road noise that bothered generation after generation of 911 has been eradicated. At lower speeds too, there’s a compliance and composure that would feel good in a family hatchback, never mind a high performance sports car. The new electro-mechanical steering may has (marginally) dialled back some of the communication levels of previous hydraulic setups, but it’s still direct, well weighted, offers fine feedback and saves fuel. The car comes in both rear- and four-wheel drive formats, and both have incredible levels of grip and traction - outstripping almost all of its competitors in this regard, both through corners, and off the line. This means you can exploit as much of the performance as you desire, rather than having to constantly manage the throttle, while waiting for the wide rear tyres to hook up.
The 911 range is now so varied and complex that is feels like there are more models on sale than stars in the sky. The entry-level Carrera, has a 3.4-litre flat-six engine producing 345bhp and 288lb ft of torque, and the Carrera S, gets a revised 3.8-litre motor producing 394bhp and 325lb ft. Cars with four-wheel drive are dubbed Carerra 4 and 4S, while the more extreme end of the scale includes the Turbo, Turbo S, GT3, and GT3 RS. The Carrera S with a seven-speed PDK kicks like a thoroughbred as early as 3400rpm, and erupts into an urgent and unmistakable flat-six crescendo above 6500rpm. Peak power doesn’t hit until 7400rpm, so the car feels damn quick, but the long gearing makes it hard to reach the upper range at legal speeds on UK roads. As for outright speed, 0-62mph takes 4.3 seconds but the time drops to 4.1secs if you spec the optional Sport Chrono Pack, you can go a lot quicker if you're willing to part with more cash, with the raciest versions offering supercar levels of acceleration. The standard Carrera will be quick enough for most people, though.
How a 911 Carrera S can simultaneously pump out 394bhp while deliver 32.5mpg (combined) and emit just 205g/km (PDK) is pretty astounding, in fact, thanks to its long final ratio, even the manual model is not too thirsty, especially when compared with rivals with larger V8, V10 and even V12 engines. But don’t get too comfortable as servicing your Porsche 911 will not be cheap, and neither will the bills for insurance or tyres. These are all comparable, if not cheaper than the 911's rivals though. One word of advice though, Porsche is rather fond of making you pay through the nose for every last piece of equipment, and adding too many options can add thousands of pounds to the transaction price, so make sure you spec your car carefully, and ensure that everything you want is fitted.
Both our strong owner review ratings, not to mention the fact 80 per cent of all global 911s sold since 964 are still on the road, is a pretty good indication that you are buying one of the most coveted as well as reliable sports cars in the business. You also get a two-year unlimited mileage warranty, and there have been few reports of this generation of 911 going wrong. Even the highly-strung GT3 model uses motorsport parts, so the engine is designed to put up with the kind of punishing abuse that few owners are ever likely to exert on their own pride and joy. The 911 is a track day regular too, which also goes to prove its durability.
All versions get twin front, side and curtain airbags as well as a sophisticated electronic stability control called Porsche Stability Management (PSM). Security Research Centre also scores it a maximum five-star rating for resisting drive-away theft.
Climate control, alloy wheels and leather upholstery are standard though options like an upgraded stereo and new trim finishes can quickly become pricey.
Because the current Porsche 911 looks set to be another classic in the making. It’s more complete than ever; faster, better riding, better handling, more usable and more refined. Seriously, where do we sign? It's also still one of the few sports cars that is as discreet and practical during every day use as it is exhilarating when you go for a full-bore blast.