New Porsche 911 Carrera 2019 review
The Porsche 911 Carrera is the cheapest 911 you can buy, but does that mean you should avoid it?
If you can’t quite stretch to the more expensive Carrera S, you’re unlikely to feel short changed by this new entry-level 911 model. The bigger point of differentiation will come next year, when Porsche adds a manual gearbox option to the more powerful car. For now, this basic Carrera is our pick of the 992-generation 911 range.
We’ll have to wait a little longer until we get to drive an all-new 992-generation Porsche 911 with a manual gearbox. But to give us a flavour of whether bog-standard is best, we’ve been given the keys to the entry-level Carrera in the UK for the first time.
It’s actually the faster and more expensive Carrera S that will soon be offered with Porsche’s seven-speed manual gearbox. But if frills don’t take your fancy, is this cheaper, PDK-equipped Carrera the new 911 of choice?
Prices start from £82,793, which is over £10k cheaper than the racier Carrera S (£93,110). You get the same 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six – albeit de-tuned from 444bhp to 380bhp – and the same PDK gearbox. Visually, the two look very similar, save for the base model’s slightly smaller alloy wheels.
Performance certainly isn’t lacking. Our car did without the firm’s ubiquitous (£1,844) Sport Chrono package, which as well as adding a small stopwatch to the top of the dashboard, trims the Carrera’s 0-62mph by two tenths of a second to four seconds flat. A similarly equipped S is half a second faster still.
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And yet on UK roads, the standard Carrera feels every bit as quick as you’d need it to be, and only fractionally slower than its punchier S-badged sibling. That’s especially true at this time of year – on greasy tarmac the entry 911 squirms under full throttle. Turn the safety systems off at your peril; Wet mode works well, nipping away in the background without any tangible loss of engagement.
It isn’t that tail happy loss of traction that makes this baby Porsche feel so alive, however. The steering is among the most communicative electrically-assisted setups we’ve encountered, and the PDK box fires home changes with a level of interaction more commonly associated with manual transmissions – sending home downshifts with a scream of revs that’ll have you changing gear for the pure thrill of it. The S model’s stick shift will have to be very good indeed to trump the auto’s sheer sophistication.
The Carrera’s ride is just as well judged, feeling compliant over rough roads, but stiff enough to offer extreme precision when you push on. Refinement takes a leap over previous 911s, too, even on big wheels and low profile tyres. The seats hug you in all the right places, and there’s loads of adjustment in the driving position – allowing you to sit low and with the wheel close to your chest.
While our car did without the Sport Chrono pack, its list of extras is still worthy of note. The Aventurine Green paint is £876, while the two-tone leather will set you back another £422. The larger Carrera S-style alloy wheels – one of the S’s otherwise defining features – cost almost £1,200, and the 14-way electric sports seats are £1,699. We wouldn’t bother with those, and nor would we spec the Sports exhaust system; it does little to change the way this basic 911 sounds, even under full throttle with the flaps wide open.
Elsewhere, the Carrera sacrifices nothing when it comes to interior quality. Porsche’s infotainment system – for all its functionality and ease of use – still doesn’t support Android smartphones, but the wireless Apple CarPlay works well, connecting seamlessly every time you start the car. The wide central touchscreen is bright and responsive, though the outer extremities of the digital cockpit are frustratingly obscured by the oversized steering wheel.
Despite its lower price tag, this 911 is still a sports car, and can’t compete with BMW’s latest 8 Series – nor Jaguar’s updated F-Type – for practicality. The boot in the nose is small, but those tiny rear seats can be used for additional storage. Only small kids will be able to actually sit in them, providing you’re flexible enough to lean in and latch a car seat in the back.