From £85,576
Our base 911 is shorn of frills but isn’t short on appeal. It’s time to have some fun
Mark Tisshaw
6 January 2021

Why we’re running it: Because this is the world’s most famous sports car in its purest form. How much 911 do you really need?

Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Porsche 911: Month 2

Go easy with the options: even an entrylevel 911 needs few extras, we’ve found - 6 January 2020

Back in March 2017, Andrew Frankel took delivery of a then new 991-gen-2 Porsche 911 Carrera S to run on these pages over the following nine months.

Looking back at Andrew’s final report (Autocar, 17 January 2018), my eyes are drawn to the spec of his car: an £85,857 Carrera S became a £108,028 one after options. Which is a lot of options for a lot of money, and Andrew found that the likes of the £1530 rear axle steering and £2744 active anti-roll bars only really added to the cost rather than the enjoyment.

Loading cars with options and charging for everything is something Porsche is well known for. But it’s not just Porsche in fairness: our 992-gen 911 recently lined up alongside the new Corvette, a car that can be had for as little as around £44,000 in the US, but by the time it had been imported to the UK, in a higher trim level and with a few choice options, it came in at a mighty £132,000.

That spec list alone, then, has made this test three years on in the latest 992 Carrera all the more interesting, to see how pure and pared back an experience a 911 can still offer. Our incumbent 911 is an £82,793 car that rises to £90,891 with options, and of those it’s really only the £1145 Carrera S wheels (20in front, 21in rear) that do anything of note to alter the driving experience. (The £464 reversing camera and £699 dynamic LED headlights are must-haves, while everything that really costs on our car is a personal choice of colour, trim or convenience.)

Reading Andrew’s conclusions, if I could write as well as he does I’d be tempted to just pass his work off as my own, given how similar they are: that a turbocharged engine brings more to the party than it takes away, considering how accessible it makes the performance, and once you’re over how good the car is to live with and reflect on how good it is to drive, you find yourself in disbelief that it sits at the bottom of the 911 range.

Andrew, of course, found all this in a more powerful S version costing almost £20,000 more after options. That so much of what he says is true of this most pure of 911s tells you how brilliant the 911 is no matter how little or much you spend on it. Why go for more when less is already enough?

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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

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Love it:

Paint colour Aventurine Green metallic paint is an £876 option that both looks stealthy and hides road grime.

Loathe it:

No Android Auto Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring works a treat, but it’s Bluetooth only for Android users.

Mileage: 7455

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BBDC sets up an impromptu comparison with the 911 Turbo S - 23 December 2020

At our 2019 Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest, the Porsche 911 Carrera S took a very creditable third place. This year’s rear-engined entrant from Stuttgart was the latest 911 Turbo S, complete with four-wheel drive to carve through the sodden Castle Combe track.

All of which made turning up for the day there in our long-term 911 Carrera feel like going back to your old workplace. It’s all a bit awkward: they’ve already moved on from you, and you’ve been replaced by a shiny new version. Only two driven wheels and 380bhp? Try four-wheel drive and 641bhp this year…

And that’s before you consider that the shiniest of new Porsches, the Taycan, was also in the contest – the first electric car to be so. This was my first chance to try it, and although it’s different in so many ways, the bloodline it shares with the Carrera is clear through its accessibility, its directness and how it can make even the simplest of drives pleasurable.

The Carrera’s presence also allowed for my own Britain’s Best 911 contest against the Turbo S – which highlighted just how big the differences between the pair are even before braving Combe. On public roads, the Turbo S is frankly too powerful and extreme to drive at even 50% of its limits – let alone 100% – while the Carrera is far more exploitable. If there’s such a thing as too much, the Turbo S is probably it.

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The acceleration of the Carrera, meanwhile, is fast enough to enjoy without feeling like you’re going to lose your licence. The kickdown function is a joy too, and as well judged as any automatic I can remember. It simply doesn’t get old, dropping the speed a bit and then hitting the throttle. Married to a chassis that’s perfectly in tune with the driver and a joy to interact with, whether you’re at said 50% or 100%, less is definitely more here with the 911 as a road car.

On the track, I found the opposite to be true. Like many others, I grabbed the keys to the Turbo S before anything else, given the wet conditions. The Turbo S is known for supreme stability, thanks in part to its four-wheel-drive traction, and so it proved, even with all that power: nothing on the day gave me more confidence to drive quickly but safely.

If we had the stopwatch running, we would have stopped the count as soon as the Turbo S posted a time. Yet others were more involving still, even at much slower speeds in some instances, hence why the Turbo S just fell short of the BBDC podium. The Carrera, on the other hand, struggled a bit at Combe: understeer on the way into a corner and oversteer on the way out was the order of the day. I’m putting that mainly down to the weather more than anything, but still the difference between it and the Turbo S is stark, almost as if the pair aren’t related.

As capable as the Carrera feels as an involving, intimate sports car, the Turbo S feels just as capable as an all-roads, all-weather supercar. All this goes to show just how much variety there is in the 911 range. Some might ridicule Porsche for stringing out the 911 across a seemingly never-ending spectrum of variants, but even between the Carrera and Carrera S there are real, noticeable differences, let alone between the Carrera and the Turbo S.

Love it:

Rear seats Don’t underestimate their appeal: they’re so handy for extra storage, making the 911 a real everyday option.

Loathe it:

Instrument binnacle Almost too wide and displays too much information for its own good, as where I set the steering wheel obscures the outer two displays.

Mileage: 7420

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Life with a Porsche 911: Month 1

The kind of car you really can drive every day - 11 November 2020

What strikes you very early on in 911 ownership is just how usable the car is. It’s the VW Golf GTI of the sports car world, one with an on/off switch for when you want to cover plenty of miles in a fuss-free way. In fact, there hasn’t been a single journey I’ve avoided in the 911 in its first 1000 miles with us. It’s only really the road noise that gripes, yet a turn of the volume knob soon sees to that.

Mileage: 7360

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Welcoming the 911 to the fleet - 21 October 2020

Home working meant it had been six months since I’d met up with Autocar’s picture editor, Ben Summerell-Youde, and even more time had passed since seeing snapper Olgun Kordal, photographers being strangers to the office at the best of times.

On our reacquaintance one sunny early autumn day in a rural Oxfordshire car park, the small talk lasted about eight seconds before we all started poring over the Porsche 911 I’d arrived in. Cue nerd alert.

Olgun pointed out that the engine cover at the rear has nine vent slats on each side and then an ‘11’ motif in the middle for the central vertical brake light, thus spelling 911. I admired the 3D Porsche badging at the rear, loving its integration below the horizontal light bar. Ben was cooing over the surfaces, noting how the increase in size of the car actually allowed for not only better proportions but also better looks.

This went on for quite a few minutes before we decided we should actually go and take some photos of the car. As I pulled away, I smiled: the pre-photoshoot car park meet is ordinarily something Autocar does hundreds of times a year, but I can’t recall one with so much time spent examining a car’s details, nor one when we knew about so many of those details in advance.

But that’s the 911 for you. They’re special cars; familiar, but in a good way. Not everyone will love them, but everyone (well, nearly everyone) respects them and has their own story to tell. Many enthusiasts know a lot about them and shudder at any suggestion that all 911s are, and always have been, the same. The variants seemingly grow with each generation, but pretty much all arrive with a pretty clear purpose.

What we have here is the new 992 generation. It’s not totally box-fresh any more, having been first launched last year. (And since then, incidentally, Ben, Olgun and I have all spent plenty of time around them, which only goes to show what a special moment any time with a 911 is, however ‘familiar’ it might be.) This particular version, on our fleet for just a few short but special weeks, is the one from which all future versions of the 992 will be derived: the standard Carrera.

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Our classy-looking Aventurine Green 911 has been on Porsche’s press fleet for almost a year. In that time, it has racked up more than 6000 miles and been driven by many other motoring titles – and ourselves, for a brief first drive late last year. Steve Cropley actually drove this car to my house halfway through his test, and the 20 miles or so I managed in the pouring rain confirmed enough about its breadth of qualities while also whetting the appetite for more.

The story here, then, comes in the form of three questions. What does a 911 feel like after a year of hard use? Well, I can answer that after the 300 miles I’ve done so far: as good as it felt back in December when I first drove it. Second, we know how usable 911s are, but how does usability extend to even the most mundane of drives, week after week? And third, just how much 911 do you need? That last question is particularly pertinent given the spec of our car. The Carrera is, of course, rear-wheel drive and has the lowest power output of any 911. Yet 380bhp from its twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat six instead of the 444bhp of the Carrera S a step up the food chain sounds plenty enough to me. We shall see.

This car has relatively few options. I know, £8098 worth of extras on top of an £82,793 car sounds like a lot, but it still costs less to buy than an optionless Carrera S. Remove the £1145 S alloys and the £1599 14-way adjustable electric sports seats and you’ve arguably got all the 911 you really need. That’s not a definitive conclusion, though, in case anyone at Porsche thinks we’re done with the car already…

Given we’re not commuting to the office for now, I’m doing far fewer miles, so each journey has a different kind of purpose. I’m also running a Honda E, a short-range electric city car that is proving to be ideal for the 80% of journeys that really are just down the road. As such, the 911 spent 48 hours on my drive before I drove it in anger for the first time.

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That drive was wonderfully humdrum – a five-mile trip to a neighbouring town on a Saturday morning – but it was a delight. From behind the wheel, the 911 feels nowhere near as wide as it looks. It manages bumps with far greater compliance than its big wheels and sports car silhouette would have you believe. And, road noise aside, it’s quiet and comfortable enough for general pottering around.

Put your foot down and this 911 feels the right kind of fast: definitely more sports car than supercar, progressive in its power delivery and never threatening to overwhelm either its driver or the road. It flatters and lets you have fun, which is a word I think we’ll be coming back to over these next few weeks.

Second Opinion

This car confirms a lesson I learned 30 years ago: that while owners commonly add many thousands in options to their base 911, if they restrained themselves they’d still have a great car. The only thing a 911 needs is LED headlights, ideally the matrix type. Otherwise, a 911 Carrera is terrific out of the box, as this car proves.

Steve Cropley

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Porsche 911 Carrera specification

Specs: Price New £82,793 Price as tested £90,891 Options Sports exhaust £1844, 14-way electric memory sports seats £1599, 20/21in Carrera S wheels £1145, Aventurine Green metallic paint £876, Dynamic LED headlights £699, Park Assist with rear camera £464, Black/Island Green two-tone leather interior £422, privacy glass £387, auto-dimming mirrors £387, Porsche crest-embossed headrests £161, Porsche crest wheel centres £114

Test Data: Engine Flat 6, 2981cc, twin turbo petrol Power 380bhp at 6500rpm Torque 332lb ft at 1950 to 5000rpm Kerb weight 1595kg Top speed 180mph 0-62mph 4.2sec Fuel economy 28.5mpg CO2 206g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Comments
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Rather ride a m... 6 January 2021
A reversing camera is an essential extra? You should be ashamed!
NoPasaran 6 January 2021

I concur, reversing camera in 911 which has very good visibility.

I would not get dynamic LEDs either.

Put these moneys towards sport exhaust or something sporty like that.

rob26 24 November 2020

It's not about it's looks. It's about how spectacular they are to drive. If you want a car for the golf club car park, get one of those disposable Jags or an orange McLaren. 

david RS 24 November 2020

It has become too big and sadly has got turbo.

 

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