Porsche 911 Carrera S

17 Nov, 2011 6:44pm Dan Strong

All-new 911 packs more technology than ever before - does it dilute the legendary driving experience?


The new Porsche 911 truly is an incredible piece of engineering, it’s faster, more stable and more refined than its predecessor, but still has a powerful personality. Of course, some people will tell you that the new 911 isn’t as much fun to drive as its predecessor, but the comparison is unfair. It’s important to remember that the current 997 generation 911 has been developed over the last decade to become the car it is today. There’s no doubt in our minds that the newcomer will go on to even greater things.
The world’s most famous sports car is back and all eyes are on Porsche to see if it can make the 911 even better.

The looks are familiar but there have been big changes under the skin. The chassis, engine, gearbox and suspension have all been changed, making this the most far reaching evolution of the 911 yet. 

At launch, two versions will be offered, a 3.4-litre Carrera, and the more powerful 3.8-litre Carrera S tested here.

The most significant alterations include a 100mm longer wheelbase, a wider front track, a 20mm lower roofline and a 40kg weight reduction. The weight saving comes courtesy of the fact that the new body mixes aluminium panels with ultra-stiff steel subframes.

Controversially, the car also uses an electro-mechanical power steering system, instead of the hydraulic set-up of old. Some have predicted it will not be able to offer the sublime steering feel that’s been a trademark of the model since it was launched in 1963.

The car also has one of the most advanced and all-encompassing traction control systems ever fielded on a Porsche – something else that could stick in the throats of purists. So with all of that in mind, can all of this technology combine to create a car as desirable as its predecessor? 

Things get off to a great start as the new 400bhp 3.8-litre six-cylinder engine wastes no time impressing. Offering an unrivalled blend of smoothness and drivability, it has explosive reserves of performance and sounds amazing at maximum revs. Amazingly, it can return 32.4mpg as well.

Against the clock, the 911 will sprint from 0-60mph in just 4.3 seconds, while top speed is a staggering 183mph. 

Frankly, the rear wheel-drive Carrera S feels even faster than the numbers above suggest. There’s a limited-slip differential fitted as standard to the rear axle, and as you exit a corner and get back on the throttle, the car tightens its line and fires you forward.

For the first time, the PDCC traction control system is backed by Porsche’s new dynamic roll control system, which constantly adjusts the stiffness of the roll bars to keep the car flat in corners. 

You can opt for a seven-speed manual gearbox, although frankly, the seven-speed PDK semi-automatic is so good, and changes gear so fast you won’t miss the manual. 

It’s important to remember that the new 991-generation is longer, lower and lighter than the 997 it replaces. Those physical changes have a major impact on the way the car responds to the drive, and rides over bumps. 

As a result the new Carrera S offers a more mature driving experience than the old car, it feels more polished, less frenetic and is more comfortable on rough roads too.

Purists who loved the handling and feel offered by 911s of the past are almost sure to say that the car has lost at least some of its appeal – and we’d have to agree with them in the sense that the electromechanical steering has robbed the 911 of some of its involvement.

But to dismiss this car as being somehow a less exciting Porsche 911 would be unfair. 

Yes, the 991 is very different to the model it replaces, both in terms of comfort and refinement on offer, and the way it communicates with the driver, but its still a hugely rewarding car to drive and now it’s a better all-rounder too.

So, has Porsche served up another winner with the new 911? Quite simply, yes.

Key specs

* Price: £81,242
* Engine: 3.8-litre 6cyl, 400bhp
* Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 4.3 seconds
* Top speed: 189mph
* Economy: 32.4mpg
* CO2: 205g/km
* Equipment: Leather upholstery, sports seats, 20-inch alloys, seven-inch colour touchscreen, iPod connection, PDK automatic gearbox, launch control
* On sale: December