From £82,7939
Staple model of Porsche’s icon doesn’t have quite as much power as the better-known S, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference

Our Verdict

Porsche 911 Carrera S 2019 road test review - hero front

Wider, more powerful eighth-generation 911 is still eminently fast, and capable at all speeds

  • First Drive

    Porsche 911 Carrera 2019 UK review

    Staple model of Porsche’s icon doesn’t have quite as much power as the better-known S, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference
  • First Drive

    Porsche 911 Carrera 2019 review

    Once again, less is more for the Porsche 911, which is now available in its most basic form
Steve Cropley Autocar
19 December 2019
Porsche 911 Carrera 2019 UK

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.

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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…

What's it like?

There’s a familiar remote hum as the engine starts and warms, and a precise, beautifully predictable engagement of drive when you decide to move. Warm the car for a mile or two, then stretch its legs. You’ll soon discover that the wide, linear torque spread of this sweet-sounding engine laughs at turbo-lag: it seems ridiculous that we ever worried about ordinary 911s adopting this cleaner, more efficient means of induction.

Because of its sports exhaust, our test car barks quite a bit as our engine use gets keener; my own instinct would be to specify a standard exhaust that only makes its presence felt when you’re fairly hard on the gas somewhere around 5000rpm, heading for the 7500rpm redline.

Give this car its head and it’s willing and very fast. Not explosively fast, mind, but we’d suggest there are few truth-speaking drivers who’ll notice — let alone miss — the difference between a 3.7 and a 4.2 second 0-60mph time. Much easier to admire is the 911’s superbly linear power deliver and the sophisticated cog-swapping of its eight-speed paddle-shift gearbox, whether you simply let it do its own thing or use the paddles. So accurate and accessible is the kickdown that you can enjoy deciding whether to drop one cog or two, just through the subtle application of your right foot.

The 911’s handling has the very same familiar feeling of having been endlessly honed that runs through every aspect of the car. Ignore where the noise comes from and you’d never know its engine was located outside the wheelbase at the rear, except you’d wonder how the bonnet could be so low. The Carrera turns beautifully (the steering gearing, wheel size, rim effort and turning circle co-operate perfectly) and there are such high levels of stability and grip on offer that all you feel at pretty quick cornering speeds is mild and roll-free understeer.

On a track, with your Porsche Stability Mode correctly configured, the car will oversteer controllably if your power applications are nicely timed, but there’s really no surviving link to the “tail-happy” 911s of yesteryear.

The ride is supple but satisfyingly flat, with firm and capable damping and very little of the nose-bounce that used to be a curiosity of previous 911 generations. On lumpy roads the car demonstrates fine control, taming undulations beautifully. In truth, the car’s only real foible is a high level of road noise on coarse UK surfaces, a familiar 911 issue that goes back decades. Get used to it or don’t buy.

Should I buy one?

This no-frills 911 is a deeply satisfying car on all important fronts, but especially for its sophisticated handling and superb powertrain.

When you’re driving it, your fulfilment is such that you simply forget that more expensive and powerful iterations exist. And if you did remember, you wouldn’t care a damn.

Porsche 911 Carrera specification

Where Surrey, UK Price £82,973 On sale now Engine Flat 6, 2981cc, twin turbo petrol Power 380bhp at 6500rpm Torque 332lb ft at 1950 to 5000rpm Gearbox Eight-speed twin-clutch PDK automatic Kerb weight 1595kg Top speed 180mph 0-62mph 4.2sec Fuel economy 28.5mpg CO2 206g/km Rivals Jaguar F-type, Mercedes-AMG GT

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Comments
18

19 December 2019

Back in 2005 I was lucky enough to buy the base 911 (997) with a bit of kit cost £64k. This is some price hike over the years, £83k before you tick a options box

19 December 2019

Most of that is exchange rates. £64k was €94k in 2005. €94k now is £80k. Still looks pricey though I agree!

19 December 2019
perpmick wrote:

Back in 2005 I was lucky enough to buy the base 911 (997) with a bit of kit cost £64k. This is some price hike over the years, £83k before you tick a options box

Actually, if you put the numbers in the Bank of England inflation calculator, it's a price drop.

£64k in 2005 is the equivalent of £94k in 2018 (the calculator doesn't extend to 2019 yet).

19 December 2019

I too bought a standard 3.6 Gen 2 997 and never regretted my decision. From memory the power difference was about 25 bhp and the only spec difference was smaller wheels which I think cost me about £1,500 to upgrade to the S style. I was able to add about £8k of options which brought me up to a similar price as a bog standard S. TBH it was an absolute no brainer. The smaller engined car also fell under the 225 Co2 VED threshold - which I learnt was only just achieved by using aluminium on the doors rather than the standard steel ones on the S. Fortunately I benefitted from the temporary reduction in VAT in ally 2009 and the dealer even helped me with the price. 10 years later the 992 is about £15k more but spec improved as PDK was an extra as was Sat Nav and even heated seats. Porsche option prices ludicrous so keep it simple.

19 December 2019

I had a 911 a few years ago (996) and one of the joys was that you could thread it down country lanes with ease. I doubt the same could be said for this new model, despite it's undoubted advances eveywhere else. Like many new cars it is too wide for its own good. 

19 December 2019

Totally agree with Jeremy. I overtook a black one a few years ago and for a moment thought it was a Panamera !

19 December 2019

Mirrors out (which is what counts, let's face it), it's actually narrower than a Golf. But hey, don't let the facts get in the way.

19 December 2019
... I'm guessing your 996 wasn't a turbo then Jeremy..?
I've enjoyed ownership of two 964's and threading them along country lanes was (when running late shall we say), "a silver fox enhancing moment"
I'm a massive fan of the iconic 911 and the only time and place to safely enjoy them is between 0500 - 0600 Sunday mornings in July, anywhere.
P.S. So I'm told...
Merry Xmas everybody.

19 December 2019

I'm an old angry type and can remember when you could get a new car for £2,995.

19 December 2019

While testing this Porsche 911, Steve Cropley was also listening to Shelagh Fogarty anticipating the following day's events.

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