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 currently offers two engines, a 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 mere 4.2 seconds and doing almost 190mph. It's not quite as expressive and free-revving as before but is still fearsomely effective. Choose the sports exhaust option and the noise is truly epic on full throttle.
As for actually piloting it, this must be the easiest sports car in the world to drive. There's a new 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 dazzingly 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. The four-wheel-drive Carrera 4 models have also now arrived to enhance this yet further: you can spot them at a glance from their wider rear arches and red reflective strip between the brake lights.
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..
There is now even an electronic handbrake, allowing larger cupholders to be fitted, but also a perfectly placed gearlever, steering wheel and pedals. The same, then. Just much more upmarket and modern.
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 humongous options list.