The following the Carrera/Carrera S, Carrera 4/4S, and GT in Coupe, Cabriolet and Targa body styles.
The Porsche 911 is, without a doubt, an icon of the highest order in the world of motoring. It has evolved with the times, sticking to its unique engine placement, to create a singular model that has defined the sports car since its inception.
In that time, the 911 has had to drop a few key features in the name of progress. Air-cooled engines and, more recently, hydraulic steering are just two examples. This time, though, Porsche has had to forego an arguably even more defining aspect: the naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) engine.
While the more driver-and-track-focused models such as the GT3, GT3 RS, and exclusive 911 R retains their atmospheric nature, the more common Carreras and its ilk have all picked-up dual turbochargers for its rear-mounted engine - one that’s been shrunken to 3.0-litres where previously the 991 series started with a 3.4-litre flat six.
This is the 991.2 series, indicating that it’s not an entirely new generation, but a heavily revised version of the outgoing car that was released in 2012.
The upshot of this switch to turbocharging across the range is more performance from less displacement. Torque, and more of it, are now available across a wider band in the rev range. This is the reason the new 911 feels quite a bit faster despite peak power being similar to the older 991.
Not only did Porsche have to conform to stricter emissions laws, but more competition from the Mercedes-AMG GT, Jaguar F-Type, and Audi R8 are also factors that contributed to the newly turbocharged 911 (just don’t call them a 911 Turbo).
Besides the engine, Porsche has lavished improvements to the car’s handling, ride quality, interior, and has even spruced up the exterior to differentiate from its predecessor, standardise it with its newest cars, and has added active aerodynamics.
“Marginal items – the front spoiler lip, front and rear lights – have been tweaked, but it’s subtle stuff that would take a side-by-side comparison to spot.” - Autocar
There’s no mistaking a 911 on the road for anything other than a 911. Fact. The core of Porsche’s approach to their signature car is rooted in evolution and refinement, not new for the sake of new. And while some might lament this and dismiss it as lazy design, the fact is that, this steady tinkering had made it one of the most - if not the most - complete and polished cars in history.
That isn’t to say the 911 is stuck in the past, and Porsche’s extensive use of aluminium and composite materials, paired to a more aerodynamic design, has kept the car’s status as the benchmark sports car.
The 991.2 generation is the most modern interpretation of the founding design yet. It’s larger than the 997 as well without it being cumbersome when manoeuvring through traffic. Most notable is how wide it appears to be, giving it an imposing road presence to go with its newfound performance.
The facelifted, second-generation 991 can be identified by its vertical engine cover slats, in place of the horizontal items on the pre-facelift car. Porsche also fitted the ‘three-dimensional’ rear lights that have featured throughout the company’s model range.
Engine and Powertrain
“That mid-range torque output gives the Carrera a vastly more muscular feel than the rather peaky normally aspirated engines of old.” - EVO
The changes in engines are the headlines for the newly refreshed versions of the 991-generation Porsche 911. The naturally aspirated units held on for as long as they could, but eventually had to step aside in the name of progress just like the original air-cooled engines’ lamentable demise made way for more powerful and efficient water-cooled versions.
And so goes at least some of the electrifying yowl of the flat-six. Despite the dual Borg-Warner turbochargers now fitted to each standard 911, Porsche has done their best to keep the sonic signature alive. And it has, kind of - you should specify the louder sports exhaust system if this matters to you.
It hasn’t quite got the sonorous attributes as older 3.4-litres and 3.8-litre atmospherics, but critics agree its pretty close, with the extra power and considerably more low-to-mid-range torque drowning out any further complaints about the reduction of noise.
The new 911s are more accelerative than ever and their tightly integrated turbochargers with variable geometry turbines that virtually abolishes lag, just as responsive. The base 911 Carrera produces 272kW at 6,500rpm and peak torque of 450Nm as early as 1,700 all the way to 5,000rpm. The more powerful S variants share the same block, but with added boost pressure produces 309kW at 6,500rpm and 50Nm more peak torque at 500Nm between 1,700 to 5,000rpm. Basically, there’s shove everywhere.
These two basic outputs are replicated in the Carrera, Carrera 4, Cabriolet, and Targa varieties of the 911. However, GTS variants of these get it in an even more potent tune of 331kW and 550Nm.
Those numbers equate to a 4.2 second sprint time from rest to 100km/h for the 911 Carrera and a 3.9 second dash for the Carrera S. The added grip from all four driven wheels can take that time down further to 3.8 seconds in the 4S. Step up to the GTS, though, and the sprint time dips to as low as 3.6-seconds.
The move to turbocharging has also meant a dip in fuel consumption. The 911 of late has, by comparison, managed to produce quite impressive numbers already, but Porsche is claiming as little as 6.9-litres/100km on the base Carrera while the Carrera S rises only marginally to 6.7-litres/100km. Fitting the more efficient PDK transmission, though, and consumption can improve even more.
“…somewhere between being in command of an SUV, given how good the visibility is, but also buried deep inside a racecar at the same time, given how it snugs around and holds you in place even at full pace. It’s very easy to get comfortable in and go fast from the get go, something that can’t be said of its rivals.” - CarAdvice
Unlike pretty much every other sports car out there, the Porsche 911 has always been friendly to activities that do not involve just driving up a twisty coastal/mountain road with a huge smile. It has always made the case being a usable everyday car in addition to that. And why not?
Other marques such as Ferrari or Lamborghini, or even an Audi R8, the 911’s cabin is still quite airy despite its focus being primarily on driving performance. Like we mentioned, it occupies the same sort of space on the road as a family hatchback, its just as easy to get in or out of, and its low engine-less bonnet means visibility is superb for any car.
Visibility is also impressive out the rear, with the 911 no more difficult to park than any typical car. It’s still a low machine, though, so you’ll be well advised to specify the front axle lift system to safely negotiate speed humps and parking garage ramps.
Being a Porsche, the interior is less ostentatious than its competitors but big on quality materials and build. Everything is cleanly and logically laid out, too, as its nearly identical to the pre-facelift 991’s dashboard.
There’s lots of space for the front passengers but the rear seats, though they are there, should only be reserved for cargo, children, or desperate adults. For the weekend trip or a supermarket run, though, there’s a surprisingly generous amount of cargo room if you fold the rear seats down and combine the ‘frunk’ forward boot, there’s nearly 400-litres of space available.
There’s a variety of trim materials and accents to choose from. From piano black finishes to a wash of aluminium or carbon fibre. The leather upholstery has many colour options too, as not everyone is a fan of an all-black cabin. Of course, these will cost a pretty penny on the options list. Something of a theme with Porsches.
Behind The Wheel
“…these new turbo 3.0-liter engines are spectacularly responsive, torquey, and sweet sounding all the way to their 7400-rpm redlines.” - Car and Driver
There many reasons why the 911 remains the yardstick, but the way it deftly blends raw driving thrills in a package that almost defies convention its everyday usability is probably the main draw. Porsche has doubled down on this as other manufacturers have raced - some might say blindly - further to the fringes of high-performance or comfort.
The 911 skirts this line, yet when it comes to a twisty road, nearly no other car can match it for sheer fun, even if they’re not necessarily the quickest through the pass. The car’s suspension, which is now standard with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) for the faster Carrera S, can be switched between settings to conform to any driver’s preference for ride firmness or comfort. The 991.2 sits 10mm lower than the outgoing model as a consequence.
Even more grip can be had by choosing the 911 with four-wheel drive (Carrera 4, 4S), which pairs its added road purchase with a wider rear arches and wider rear axle. As the system is only called upon to quietly aid front end grip and mid-corner stability, it does little to dampen the 911’s effervescence. The more powerful Carrera S and 4S gains an optional rear-wheel steer system that reviewers say goes a long way to make the cars feel even more agile around corners and stable at high speeds, well worth the premium.
The 991-generation 911s were the first to eschew hydraulic power steering for the less feelsome but more economical electrically assisted option. Porsches have long been lauded for their steering precision, thus causing some uproar from purists. However, many pundits say that the Stuttgart marque’s calibration work is class-leading and nearly as good as the old rack for both precision and feedback.
Porsche offers the 911 with either a 7-speed PDK (Porsche DoppelKupplung, or Double Clutch) transmission, an excellent shifter that’s smooth, well-judged on blips, and lightning quick in action, or a slick 7-speed manual that has the same ratios minus the automatic shifting if you wish not to cede another connection to the car to electronics.
Large and ventilated steel brakes discs - denoted by red callipers - are standard which provide excellent stopping performance and easy modulation. Those who need more can specify carbon ceramic discs for a pretty penny ($19,990 extra) and units with these fitted are identifiable with their yellow callipers. These types of brakes can take much more punishment before fading, which is why they were first used in Formula 1.
In all, there are indeed many small tweaks Porsche has made to the refreshed 991 to make it a more consummate all-round sports car. Too many to mention, actually, and some which they themselves have not publicly disclosed. This can, however, be quantified in the 991.2’s time around the Nurburgring track, where it was 10 seconds quicker than its immediate predecessor. Something to brag about, then.
Safety and Technology
“911 gets a decent amount of infotainment kit, including the excellent Apple Carplay, but some similarly priced rivals offer more for the money.” - What Car
The most noticeable improvement is the new Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system with a much larger touchscreen, Apple CarPlay connectivity, and navigation upgrades with Google Earth and Street View support. Audio can be piped in through 12-speaker Bose array or a higher-end Burmester setup.
Porsche equips the 911 with two-stage front and side airbags for driver and passenger that can vary its inflation based on the severity of the collision. An integral thorax airbag is located in each seat side bolster, while the door panels each contain an upwards-inflating head airbag.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Porsche 911 is so highly commended. It’s a singular car that, in some ways, has no direct equal. The formula has been refined over its over-50 year evolution, and the 991.2 series is an itself an iteration of the 991 of 2012.
And barring the somewhat controversial decision for even base 911s to use turbocharging, the bottom line is that its disadvantages are far outweighed by the benefits, and on balance, Porsche chose the right time to introduce it. Yes, it may have lost some of its mechanical sense of interface, but the added power and oodles of torque available early in the rev band coupled with the rear-engine grip makes up for it with crushing acceleration off the line. Perhaps speed does conquer all.
The other changes are also welcome. Porsche has trimmed some of the 991’s harder edges and little foibles to a point that, for now, there isn’t really a glaring issue to which we could expect a 911 that’s much better than the 991.2. Few manufacturers can match its overall appeal, mix of strengths, and genuine personality. And now with more power, agility, and even fuel economy, that gap is still present and obvious.
Car and Driver - “…we’d be hard pressed to argue that this latest 911 isn’t just the best water-cooled car ever to wear the Carrera badge, it’s a helluva performance machine in its own right. Frankly, it’s all the 911 most folks will ever need.”
What Car - 5/5 - “A fantastic sports car and one of the few you can live with every day. The Audi R8 might be more theatrical than the Turbo models, but the lower-end 911 models are world-class, and define the sports car category.”
EVO - 5/5 - “The 991-generation 911 broke with five decades of heritage in some major ways – turbocharged Carrera models and electric power steering being the headline revisions. Nonetheless, it remains the most rounded sports car on sale and with an expansive model range there’s a variant to suit all tastes.”
CarAdvice - 9/10 - “…it’s hard to fault the 991.2 Porsche 911 Carrera S for what it is, which is a brilliant everyday supercar. It’s better than the car it replaces in almost every sense, except for one thing: the exhaust note. So perhaps our only real criticism is one born entirely out of emotion, rather than logic.”
Top Gear - 8/10 - “Blindingly fast and accomplished, although some of the spark has been muted.”
AutoExpress - 5/5 - “The latest 991-generation Porsche 911 is undoubtedly one of the best handling sports cars in the world.”
CarsGuide - 4.5/5 - “Purists will say it’s not a real 911 now that it has a smaller, turbocharged engine. But it is in fact the biggest leap forward in the 911’s 53-year history. Amen.”
Autocar - 4.5/5 - “…it remains the definitive sports car, even if it appeals now more to the head than the heart.”