What is it?
Major evolutions of Porsche's most famous model don't come along that often which makes this latest '991' 911 a big deal. Particularly given how Porsche has made some major changes; it's longer, wider, smoother, more like a Panamera inside, there's even a raft of enviro-friendly features designed to eke out extra economy. Cue nagging voices, proclaiming the 911 has gone soft. Has it? Extinguish said voices: from the very first moments behind the wheel, the 991 is immediately and emphatically a genius motor car.
The 911 engine range is growing fast. The core range still offers a choice of downsized 3.4-litre in the Carrera or a 400bhp 3.8-litre in the Carrera S. The latter is amazing, capable of hitting 62mph in a 4.2 seconds and doing almost 190mph. But there are now two new performance alternatives, either a twin-turbo 3.8-litre with up to 560bhp, or a race-tuned normally aspirated 3.8-litre with 475bhp and a wailing 9,000rpm redline. Both, in their own way, are epic.
As for actually piloting it, this must be the easiest sports car in the world to drive. There’s a seven-speed manual which is less dramatic than it sounds, while the choice PDK dual-clutch auto slurs through its seven ratios imperceptibly. The ride is compliant and there’s almost no mechanical noise whatsoever.
So, has it gone soft? Absolutely not. It doesn’t take long to realise that, far from being neutered by its changes, the new 911 raises the bar. It’s a slightly gentler experience, and perhaps not quite as memorable, but it’s dazzlingly effective. It’s less of an act of faith to commit it to a fast corner and the traction out is as monumental as ever.
You can now choose the Turbo twins if you want monumental acceleration and more driver interaction than any boosted 911 to date. But you should choose the GT3 to enjoy sheer brilliance. There’s simply no other word to describe it.
On the inside
It fits perfectly. The roomier new 911 cabin is as sturdy as ever, but is also far more luxurious. There are a lot of buttons on the Carrera GT-inspired centre console but the fundamentals – feel-good steering wheel, sporty yet comfortable seating – are also firmly ticked. Porsche has retained the three cowled instruments and even their old-school graphics but they are supplemented by a new digital screen. Gearlever, steering wheel and pedals are all perfectly placed.
More economical as well as more powerful, the Carrera S averages 32.5mpg and emits just 205g/km in PDK guise. The 911 is amazingly clean for such a powerful car which also brings advantages in terms of running costs. The price is keen for such an incredibly able machine too, but that’s only if you manage to resist the compulsive lure of the humungous options list.