From £84,7009
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
Steve Cropley Autocar
19 December 2019

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…

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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.

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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
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Speedraser 20 December 2019

But is it fun?

Sounds like a superb, extremely competent car. But... All that talk about how it does NOT feel like a 911 -- makes me sad. The whole point, to me, of a 911 was that it felt like a 911! No, I'm not saying we should go back to the early days of the SWB 911 with iron limps in the front bumpers to make it sort-of handle. To me, though, the 992 feels too much like a "normal" car, at least until the speeds are very high -- probably too high for public roads. Like so many other modern fast cars...

Speedraser 20 December 2019

But is it fun?

Sounds like a superb, extremely competent car. But... All that talk about how it does NOT feel like a 911 -- makes me sad. The whole point, to me, of a 911 was that it felt like a 911! No, I'm not saying we should go back to the early days of the SWB 911 with iron limps in the front bumpers to make it sort-of handle. To me, though, the 992 feels too much like a "normal" car, at least until the speeds are very high -- probably too high for public roads. Like so many other modern fast cars...

Cobnapint 19 December 2019

As it fulfills it's brief so well

Why not 5 stars?

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