From £75,07410
We've already delivered our verdict on the PDK-equipped S, but is the entry-level Carrera with seven-speed manual gearbox worthy of similar praise?

Our Verdict

New turbocharged Porsche 911 Carrera S

Can the newly turbocharged 911 shoulder Porsche’s heritage?

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10 November 2015

What is it?

It's the cheapest way into Porsche's revamped 911 - if its now-higher £76,412 entry price can ever be determined 'cheap'. It's also the slowest 911, that is, if the now more powerful 369bhp Carrera's 0-62mph time of 4.6secs should be labelled as such.

Like the faster 414bhp S, which gets modified turbocharger compressors, a unique exhaust system and different engine management tuning in order to achieve its greater outputs, the standard Carrera sports a bi-turbo 2981cc flat-six petrol engine in order to meet stricter emissions regulations. Cue the wincing and sharp intakes of breath.

Carrera models don't, unlike the S, get the option of rear-wheel steer, but Porsche has given its seven-speed manual gearbox a new clutch, designed to be easier on the left leg during spirited driving and over long journeys. It also has longer gearing from third onwards owing to the engine's extra torque, while opting for the least amount of power brings the advantage of range-best official fuel economy figures of 34.0mpg, although the PDK ’box brings with it lower CO2 emissions. 

So what else do you get for your £76k? Well, new daytime running lights and redesigned tail-lights, a different bonnet design, clever front air intakes that automatically open and close and standard PASM adjustable dampers with a 10mm lowered ride height. Inside sits Porsche's brand new PCM infotainment system, too. 

What's it like?

I've often found the entry-level versions of Porsche's sports cars to be my preferred choice. The Boxster and Cayman for instance; I'd opt for the lesser 2.7 engine with a sports exhaust and be entirely content with that. Okay, so the Cayman GT4 is sensational, but I'm being financially realistic - which journalism often demands.

It could be argued that buying a 911 is slightly different, because the extra financial commitment between a Carrera and more potent S poses less significance when you start talking about price tags that have five figures and start with a seven. 

Importantly, though, after six hours behind the wheel, I don't think you'll ever be sitting in your Carrera and get a sinking feeling at the sight of an S gliding past. The basic Carrera offers far too much to the driver for the S's greater pub ammo to ever really matter.

The new turbocharged engine is thoroughly impressive. Yes, it doesn't have quite the long-legged revs of the old naturally aspirated car that constantly begged for a lower ratio and a long slug of throttle, and it lacks the old model’s hard-edged flat-six sound. It does, however, still rev to a heady 7500rpm, and long before that its noise (especially with the £1773 sports exhaust fitted) will still be making you smile.

It's more flexible, too, allowing you to be lazier out of slow corners and ultimately faster across undulating B-roads. Objectively it's better in just about every way, and works well with the new, lighter clutch, longer gearing and super-slick lever action, but subjectively it may take some time getting used to its wholly different character and spooling-turbo whoosh.

With the ability to change damper stiffness in a split-second now standard, as well as its 10mm lower ride height, it's impossible to feel shortchanged in terms of handling, either. The Carrera still offers as bewitching a blend of ride and handling as ever.

Its new wider tyres ensure a massive amount of grip from the front wheels, and you'll have every confidence placing them using the 911's superbly judged steering rack. Body lean is negligible, especially with the dampers set to their stiffer Sport mode, and on our hot, dry test route, the rear axle wasn't going anywhere.

And that's really part of the Carrera's charm. There are 911s with enough power to constantly overwhelm the rear tyres for those who want it, but it's possible to push a Carrera (in the dry) extremely hard in complete confidence while still enjoying every second.

Our car's optional Sport Chrono pack added another level of throttle response and damper stiffness and even wider grins in its Sport Plus mode. On that subject, ticking Sport Chrono now brings a rotary dial on the 911's steering wheel used to flick between driving modes. 

Part of the enjoyment, and confidence, comes from the way the Carrera's suppleness ensures that it’s able to take lumps and bumps in its stride mid-corner and maintain a steady high-speed trajectory. Even our car on optional 20in alloys controlled itself well over speed bumps and damped away any fuss over high-frequency craggy roads.

Porsche continues to wow with its interior quality, with lots of leather and metallic surfaces inside, even if there is still a confusing amount of buttons dotted about the place. Two tall adults will sit comfortably in the front, and there's room for two baby seats or a couple of weekend bags on the backs seats. The driver still gets one of the best driving positions in the business.

The highlight, though, is Porsche's new PCM infotainment system - probably one of the old car's biggest weaknesses. This new 7.0in screen has a higher resolution and now responds to swipe and pinch functions more quickly. There's also more smartphone integration - such as Apple's CarPlay - and the standard sat-nav runs using Google's much-loved mapping.

Bi-xenon headlights, two-zone climate control, DAB radio, Bluetooth, 19in alloys, leather sports seat and a sports steering wheel are the features that catch the eye as you cast it over the new 911's standard equipment list. 

Should I buy one?

Considered next to similarly priced rivals such as Jaguar's F-Type R Coupé and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the 911 remains the precision German tool alongside the rather more blunt but beautifully brash British pair. 

If the badge matters or you've already convinced yourself that the S's extra oomph is something you can't live without, then I can see the reason for leaving this Carrera. Chief among which, going S gives you the option of Porsche's new rear-steer technology and even more stable dynamics.  

But if a Carrera is bang on, or towards the top limit of your budget, don’t be worried about missing out on the full-fat 911 experience. There's huge enjoyment to be had from it, and unlike many other Porsche models, no need to go on an expensive journey into the realms of the 911's options list. That said, I do think you should spec that exhaust. 

Porsche 911 Carrera manual

Location Tenerife; On sale Now; Price £76,412; Engine 6 cyls horizontally opposed, 2981cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 369bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 332lb ft at 1700-5000rpm; Kerb weight 1430kg; Gearbox 7-spd manual; 0-62mph 4.6sec; Top speed 183mph; Economy 34.0mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 190g/km, 33%

Join the debate

Comments
16

10 November 2015
I wonder when engineering / handling benefits stop and marketing takes over? Would this Porsche on standard 19's be a lesser car? Surely the difference will be minimal? In my view, 21 inch wheels look too big on a car this small.

10 November 2015
Nirgendwo (that's German) on the internet one can find a picture of the standard Carrera with the 19" wheels. I agree, bigger rims aren't necessarily good for the way a car handles, and they're killing for the ride comfort, damage easily, etc. etc.

10 November 2015
It wont stop but clearly this insanity has to reach a dead end at some point because cars cant get bigger endlessly.

I am not an automotive engineer, but if the Mclaren F1 rode 17 inchers then from a drivers perspective no car needs more than that. Perhaps 18, but 21 is just marketing, and Porsche is very good at that because they are now selling a base 911 with no options for 10K more than an M4 which is much more powerful.

ofir

11 November 2015
Ofir wrote:

if the Mclaren F1 rode 17 inchers then from a drivers perspective no car needs more than that. Perhaps 18, but 21 is just marketing,

I see no mention of 21" rims in the article, also the reference to the McLaren F1, that was well known for it's twitchy handling so perhaps not the best example to quote. Take that argument further though, if Lewis Hamilton can win the F1 World Championship with only 13" rims surely no car needs more than that.

 

11 November 2015
Leslie Brook wrote:
Ofir wrote:

if the Mclaren F1 rode 17 inchers then from a drivers perspective no car needs more than that. Perhaps 18, but 21 is just marketing,

I see no mention of 21" rims in the article, also the reference to the McLaren F1, that was well known for it's twitchy handling so perhaps not the best example to quote. Take that argument further though, if Lewis Hamilton can win the F1 World Championship with only 13" rims surely no car needs more than that.

They must have corrected it. Can't see 21 inch wheels as an option on the Porsche configurator. I gather the relationship between wheel size and handling is quite complex. They tested a VW Golf on different sized wheels here: -----www.caranddriver.com/features/effects-of-upsized-wheels-and-tires-tested ----- apparently the Golf was best on 17's and 18's. What is really noticable is now MPG and acceleration figures drop off the bigger the wheels.

11 November 2015
winniethewoo wrote:

What is really noticable is now MPG and acceleration figures drop off the bigger the wheels.

Glad you've mentioned that. With all the puffing and blowing about cars not meeting "claimed" mpg, some people apparently are quite ready to look cool and never mind the cost at the pumps. That's an interesting article, by the way.

11 November 2015
Adrian987 wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

What is really noticable is now MPG and acceleration figures drop off the bigger the wheels.

Glad you've mentioned that. With all the puffing and blowing about cars not meeting "claimed" mpg, some people apparently are quite ready to look cool and never mind the cost at the pumps. That's an interesting article, by the way.

It would be interesting if a car mag did the same sort of test for this Porsche. In the pics above, those brake rotors look totally lost. I bet this car could run on 17's.

12 November 2015
Yes the Porsche may be 10K more expensive than the M3/4 but most would argue that it's the better quality product so more than justifies the added expense (I'd be happy to be able to afford either). If your your only gauge for the value of a car were to be it's power output then you'd expect to pay more for the new Mustang than the Porsche??

12 November 2015
Ofir wrote:

It wont stop but clearly this insanity has to reach a dead end at some point because cars cant get bigger endlessly.

I am not an automotive engineer, but if the Mclaren F1 rode 17 inchers then from a drivers perspective no car needs more than that. Perhaps 18, but 21 is just marketing, and Porsche is very good at that because they are now selling a base 911 with no options for 10K more than an M4 which is much more powerful.

Yes the Porsche may be 10K more expensive than the M3/4 but most would argue that it's the better quality product so more than justifies the added expense (I'd be happy to be able to afford and wouldn't mind either). If your your only gauge for the value of a car were to be it's power output then you'd expect to pay more for the new Mustang than the Porsche??

10 November 2015
OK without 21" rims, without turbos.

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