Porsche 997 Carrera S

Latest 911 is best yet to drive, while cabin is luxurious and gets sat-nav, adding to appeal.

in terms of longevity, only one sports car comes close to Porsche’s 911: the Corvette. But with the two cars head-to-head, the decades of experience have clearly been put to better use by the German brand.

The latest 997 generation is one of the greatest 911s to date. Its overall shape hasn’t altered significantly since the launch of the 996 in 1999, although the front end is now closer in style to the classic round light look of the original 911. But whatever you think of the design, a number of significant changes have taken place under the skin.

Inside, you’ll soon spot the benefits of modern technology. Stepping from the oldest Porsche in our line-up to the latest is like climbing into a time machine. Only the large circular dials and centrally mounted rev counter look familiar.

Head out on the road and it won’t be long before you realise how capable the latest 911 is. The driving experience is difficult to fault in any area.

From the first turn of the steering wheel you feel a level of control that’s lacking in many rivals. This impression of mechanical precision is mirrored in the slick manual gearchange and the stiff, yet accurate pedals.

Buyers have the choice of the six-speed manual transmission or Porsche’s latest two-pedal sequential gearbox, the PDK. However, while the technology behind the latter is impressive, we feel it removes a layer of communication between the driver and the car.

Regardless of the gearbox, the handling balance is superb. Retaining the unorthodox rear-engined layout has proved to be a great decision, as the latest 911 is as lithe and nimble as any sports car on sale today. No matter how quickly you’re driving, the Porsche is easy to place on the road and carves accurately through any corner.

For now, anyone who wants the latest facelifted version is limited to a choice of the 354bhp Carrera or 385bhp Carrera S. Customers can also specify four-wheel drive for greater traction.

More variants will be introduced over the coming months. Priced from £63,070, the entry-level 997 is a fine all-rounder, but for the true 911 experience, the more powerful rear-wheel-drive Carrera S is the model of choice. Opt for this £70,360 version, and you will enjoy thrilling performance – the car sprints from 0-60mph in only 4.7 seconds and goes on to a top speed approaching 190mph.

Few models have the pressure of such a strong heritage – yet the 997 model more than lives up to the 911 legend.

Future for Porsche Evolution is what the 911 is all about, and there’s no sign of this process slowing down yet! The fresh-faced 997 arrived earlier this year, in the shape of the Carrera and Carrera S. Next to appear will be the rest of the range, which includes a facelifted Turbo, as well as the race-bred GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 variants.

But that’s only the start for 2009. While bosses are keeping their exact plans close to their chest, the word on the lips of every Porsche fan is... Speedster. A limited-edition stripped-back roadster based on the 911 has been spied undergoing testing in Germany, and a concept version is expected to break cover at a major motor show in the next 12 months.

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