Porsche 911 Carrera S
We get the behind the wheel of the new Porsche 911 Carrera S on UK roads
If anyone was ever going to criticise Porsche for messing with a winning formula it would be with this latest 911. To overhaul the steering and lengthen the wheelbase in such an extreme way was a big risk, but in our eyes, it's one that paid off. There's still more feel through the steering than in a lot of other sports cars, and that longer wheelbase has really done wonders to improve the ride comfort. In nearly every area the 991 is a better car than the 997, and it's going to prove incredibly difficult to beat.
To call the latest Porsche 911 a radical redesign would be a step too far based on the exterior alone, but for the normally reserved Porsche design team, it really is. And there’s good reason for it, because there have been some big changes under the skin.
The new 911 is longer, wider, lower, lighter and more technically advanced than ever, and it promises better ride comfort and a sharper drive. It all made sense when we drove the car abroad, but now we’ve had our first go on the UK’s rough roads.
And the good news is that all the positive things we had to say about the latest version of Porsche’s legendary sports car still hold up. That longer wheelbase and finely tuned suspension settings mean the ride comfort is genuinely impressive. It feels firm, but the bumps in the road are well isolated from the cabin.
The pin-sharp handling of previous 911s is most definitely intact. Turn-in is more instant than it has been before, and the wider track has boosted grip. There’s an element of maturity about the way the 911 corners, too, with the sense it’s far more forgiving than some older versions.
Perhaps the most controversial part of the overhaul is a new electromechanical steering set-up. Some of the more subtle feedback from the steering wheel has been lost, but it’s still the best electrically assisted system we’ve used.
We drove the Carrera S, which is powered by a 400bhp 3.8-litre flat-six, and there really is nothing to complain about. It’s smooth, has plenty of power through the rev-range and the acceleration from 30-60mph in second-gear is exhilarating. Porsche puts the 0-62mph time at 4.5 seconds for our manual-equipped model, but it feels far quicker than that.
The gearbox itself is special because it’s a seven-speed manual, and although most cars sold will be equipped with the PDK semi-auto, the manual is a treat to use. The shift is direct, and has just the right balance between being notchy and light. At one point early in our drive we found seventh when looking for fifth, but soon got used to the layout.
That seventh gear is useful for lowering emissions. Paired with fuel saving technology and a lightweight body, Porsche claims our manual model can return 29.7mpg, while PDK-equipped models are even more economical at 32.5mpg.
So what’s not to like? Well for the purists the steering has lost some of its charm, but we had more to complain about with the wide tyres. At motorway speeds there’s a huge amount of road noise, which seems slightly at odds with the 911’s new-found GT character.
But complaints are few and far between. It’s not the most thrilling 911 ever – not quite anyway – but in terms of all-round ability, the new 991 is leagues ahead of its predecessors.