What is it?
One mistake car manufacturers make is assuming that customers always enjoy choosing options.
It can be fun equipping a new VW Golf, but when you’re talking about a Porsche 911 the whole thing gets nerve-racking. You’re induced to add big money to an already-large price, under the lingering threat that if you don’t fit the right wheels or seats your car won’t resell when the time comes.
Which is why we were fascinated to get our hands on a near-standard Carrera as opposed to a fully loaded Carrera S, the kind of demo that usually comes our way. Not that our test car car was exactly stripped bare: its options added up to £8100 by the time its owner had added £1844 for a sports exhaust, and paid £1600 for 14-way electric sports seats and nine other pricey items.
A standard Carrera sets you back £82,793, saving you £10,317. You miss out on a 17% more powerful engine and bigger wheels (20in/21in rather than 19in/20in) but it’s a moot point whether you'll truly miss either. Your entry Carrera still has 380bhp on tap from its twin turbo flat-six, plus 332lb ft of torque. And its 0-60mph acceleration is still healthy at 4.2 seconds — admittedly 0.5sec slower than the S — while its 182mph top speed gives away a similarly unimportant 9mph.
It would have been instructive to drive our test car on the standard wheels, especially as the basic Carrera comes with active damping as all 911s do. But Porsche’s people had chosen to fit S alloys at a cost of £1145, probably to make the car look better in photographs, though a peep on the configurator shows that the standard hoops look fine. It’s likely the standard car rides a shade better and generates less road noise because of its marginally taller and more flexible tyre sidewalls.
Like all 911s, wherever their price, build quality is right at the top of the class. While other sports car makers like to make an issue of the improving quality of their cars, Porsche sees leadership in this area as normal and makes it obvious. You can’t miss it even as you prepare to drive one of the cheapest 911s money can buy…