No introduction required
CALL it iconic, call it a throwback...you can call it what you wish, but the Porsche 911 needs little introduction and every car enthusiast is sure to hold an opinion of it.
It’s, in many ways, a Marmite car – a model that strongly divides opinion. I will happily nail my colours to the mast as a hopelessly committed fan.
The latest range, the Gen2 991-series, is markedly different, yet amazingly similar-looking for a new model.
For a start the engine size of the Carrera S Cabriolet I’ve been driving has been dropped from 3.8 litres to 3.0litres and it is turbocharged which increases power by 20bhp to a hulking 414bhp.
Despite still being a flat-six, the addition of twin turbos, has for traditionalists slightly changed the character of one of the longest running model lines.
Externally, there have been tweaks – new bumpers, vertical slats on the engine cover, four-dot daytime running lights and 3D tail lights.
But it’s still very recognisable as a 911 with its roots back in the early Sixties.
And the great thing about it is that unlike most of the supercars it’s up against in performance terms, the Porsche remains practical and easygoing everyday transport. Despite compact external dimensions, it’s got two small rear seats and a decent sized front boot which can take 150 litres of luggage.
OK, you may prefer (wisely) to use those diminutive perches in the back for luggage rather than accommodation – it’s so handy to have somewhere to sling a briefcase of a coat rather than having to lock it in the boot. With the rear seats folded there’s space for another 260 litres of cargo.
Then there’s the shape. Although the nose slopes away, the wings are easily visible and allow you to place the car perfectly through bends, unlike some low-slung exotica.
Old-school looks there may be but there’s now an up-to-date infotainment system on board and Apple CarPlay.
The engine note may not be quite so pure as predecessors but the extra power and torque allied to improved flexibility lifts the 911 to a new high. And the optional sports exhaust gives it a bark that’s vicious enough for most.
With the electric hood down, you are able to fully appreciate the symphony of sound.
Fitted as standard with a sevenspeed manual gearbox, the S wipes out 0-62mph in four and half seconds.
The optional PDK automatic transmission trims the time by a few additional fractions. The manual is a pleasing gearbox with a slick change but the clutch is a tad heavy.
No sign of turbo lag here, as the Cabriolet surges forward, but there is a distant whistle from the turbo units.
Smooth roads and tight bends bring the best out in the 911 as squirts between the curves, then crouches and hugs the Tarmac with little sign of either understeer or oversteer. Steering is precise and informative... better, in fact, than the last model.
The Sport Chrono pack gives you a little dial on the steering wheel allowing you to choose Sport or Sport Plus which sharpens responses and blips the engine as you change down. A trifle childish – but good fun.
Despite enormous performance, the Carrera S is surprisingly easy on the wallet when it comes to fuel. With CO2 emissions of 202g/km, the official combined figure is 32.1mpg. Even taking in some hard driving, my average was 23mpg and on a more relaxed cross country run I got 28mpg.
Few, if any, sports cars are able to offer such breadth of ability. Hugely rapid and satisfying, yet so easy to drive, the 911 has earned its place as a genuine icon.
TEST DRIVE PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S CABRIOLET
MODEL: Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet PRICE: £94,698 MECHANICAL: 414bhp, 2,998cc, 6cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 7-speed manual gearbox MAX SPEED: 196mph 0-62MPH: 4.5 seconds COMBINED MPG: 32.1 INSURANCE GROUP: 50 CO2 EMISSIONS: 202g/km BIK RATING: 36% WARRANTY: 3yrs/60,000 miles