What Car? says...
Some things in life should be left alone. The leaning Tower of Pisa, for example, wouldn’t be the same without its tilt. And the same principle applies to the iconic shape of the Porsche 911.
Under the skin, though, there have been loads of changes to Porsche’s rear-engined sports car over the years. This latest version is codenamed the 992 and you can choose from five turbocharged flat-six petrol engines.
The range kicks off with the 380bhp Carrera and 444bhp Carrera S, both of which are available with a choice of rear or four-wheel drive. Even these versions offer some serious performance.
Then there's the GTS (Gran Turismo Sport), plus two Turbo-badged models that are among the fastest cars on the road. Indeed, the 641bhp Turbo S can do 0-62mph in a scarcely believable 2.7sec.
Further down the line Porsche will offer two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) 911 models, including one with more than 600bhp and a top speed of almost 200mph. There's also a hardcore track-focused model called the GT3.
And if you want to enjoy your Porsche with an extra dose of fresh air and Vitamin D, there’s also the 911 Cabriolet and 911 Targa to choose from.
So, is the Porsche 911 still the best sports car for those who want a dash of practicality and an interior that doesn't feel stripped out like a racing car's?
Over the next few pages of this review, we'll tell you everything you could want to know about the 992, including what it's like to sit in, how much fun it is to drive, and how much it will cost to run.
We'll also tell you which versions make the most sense and take you through the options (there are many) worth considering.
When you've decided which new car is perfect for you, try our free What Car? New Car Deals service to make sure you're getting it for the best price available. It has lots of the best new sports car deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The 'entry-level' Porsche 911 Carrera delivers crushing straight-line pace (0-62mph takes just 4.2sec). With peak torque arriving at just 1900rpm, you could be mistaken for assuming the 3.0-litre engine doesn’t like to be revved. However, unlike so many modern turbocharged engines that run out of puff higher up in the rev range, the 911’s flat-six is utterly relentless all the way to its relatively heady 7500rpm limiter.
Indeed, it's so quick it makes the more powerful Carrera S and GTS options seem somewhat unnecessary. They lower the 0-62mph time if you stick with the standard eight-speed PDK automatic gearbox, although the manual 'box option could be more appealing if you value old-school interaction with the car. The Carrera and Carrera S are both available with optional four-wheel drive (look out for the '4' badge), but traction is so good on rear-wheel drive versions that the extra expense isn't really justified.
The Turbo and Turbo S are exclusively four-wheel drive and deliver brutal acceleration – the sort that'll really make your neck ache. Unless you're looking for ultimate bragging rights, the cheaper Carrera models make far more sense. The GT3’s high-revving non-turbocharged engine offers a different experience – see our Porsche 911 GT3 review for more on that version.
Suspension and ride comfort
All 911s come with adaptive suspension (PASM in Porsche speak) as standard, which means you can effectively change the stiffness of the suspension to suit the type of driving you're doing.
In the Carrera and Carrera S, the regular setting only works well around town, where it takes the sting out of sharp-edged bumps and prevents you from being jostled around too much.
Out on to the open road, you'll start to notice body control becoming surprisingly loose, with the car bucking and bouncing along any surface that isn't perfectly smooth. Switching to the firmer Sport setting stops this from happening and, to be frank, it's the setting we'd choose for most UK roads.
Thanks to the 911's beautifully weighted steering that’s both communicative and incredibly accurate, you can push right up to the limit of grip with utter confidence – something that can’t be said of the Aston Martin Vantage or Mercedes-AMG GT.
Rear-wheel drive versions of the Carrera and Carrera S are slightly more rewarding (and considerably lighter) than four-wheel drive models, including the Turbo and Turbo S. That's because when you're cornering really hard in the latter, the front wheels try to help claw you out of corners, giving the car a less natural balance. It's certainly effective, though.
What’s more, as long as you've switched the suspension to Sport mode, body control is exceptional. True, the mid-engined Audi R8 is even better in that respect, but it's also more expensive than Carrera versions of the 911 and a lot less practical.
Noise and vibration
When fitted with the optional sports exhaust, the 911 Carrera and GTS models make a full-blooded and thrilling howl when you put your foot down. Alternatively, for those moments when you’re not in the mood, you can turn the volume down to ensure that the engine never gets too boomy or intrusive. The Turbo models are certainly loud but don't sound as tuneful. For the ultimate sounding 911, the GT3 is the one to go for, with its howling engine sound and loud exhaust note.
The 911 isn’t an especially refined choice for covering lots of miles. You'll hear wind whistle from around the frameless side windows at motorway speeds and the wide tyres generate a lot of noise over coarse surfaces. Consider the BMW M8 if you're looking for a more agreeable long-distance cruiser.
The eight-speed PDK automatic gearbox doesn't only shift extremely quickly, it also does so surprisingly smoothly. The optional seven-speed manual 'box on the Carrera S and GTS is one of the best fitted to any sports car, while the six-speed version on the GT3 requires more effort but is rewarding all the same.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Most people will be able to find a driving position that suits them using the Porsche 911's entry-level seats, which have four-way electric adjustment.
We'd still recommend forking out for the 14-way electric sports seats (standard on the Turbo), or even better the 18-way Adaptive Sports Seats Plus (standard on the Turbo S), both of which bring adjustable lumbar support and a memory function.
You sit close to the floor, which gives the 911 a suitably hunkered-down feel from behind the steering wheel, and the pedals are perfectly positioned. The speedo and rev counter are directly in your line of sight and easy to read at a glance, but you might find some other instruments, including the fuel gauge, are obscured by the steering wheel. The air-con controls are rather fiddly, too.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Driving a sports car usually involves making serious visibility sacrifices, but the 911 is surprisingly easy to see out of.
Forward visibility is excellent, thanks to slim windscreen pillars. Those distinctive bulges around the tops of the headlights give you a clear idea of where the front wheels are, too, making the 911 easier to manoeuvre than the Jaguar F-Type and Mercedes-AMG GT.
Even rear visibility isn't too bad, thanks to a deep rear window allowing you to place the back of the car accurately when reversing. Plus, front and rear parking sensors come as standard, with a reversing camera fitted to the Turbo and Turbo S and optional on lesser variants. The biggest object obstructing your view out will be the roll cage that comes fitted behind the front seats with the optional Club Sport Package on the GT3.
Sat nav and infotainment
Porsche has acquired a reputation for being stingy with the amount of kit it fits to its cars, but the 911 comes with all the infotainment essentials.
The 10.9in touchscreen included in the price is quick to respond to prods and is placed within easy reach of the driver and their passenger. True, being a touchscreen means it can still be a little distracting to use on the move, but it’s one of the best systems of its kind and comes with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard (so you can use your phone apps on the screen).
You also get an eight-speaker stereo and a DAB digital radio. If you’re a bit of an audiophile, it’s worth considering the Bose and Burmester sound systems – the latter being particularly impressive. The Turbo and Turbo S get the Bose system as standard.
Most of the buttons and switches in the 911 are well damped and the dashboard and other fixtures feel reassuringly study. Compared with the Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-AMG GT, the 911 has a suitably impressive interior.
The 911 doesn't feel quite as rock solid inside as the Audi R8 though, and you might think the interior looks a bit plain unless you delve into the huge personalisation options list.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Porsche 911 driver's seat slides back a long way, and there’s a decent amount of head room in the front – even for tall adults. The centre console, which fences off the driver from their passenger, is quite wide but is also padded, so it's not uncomfortable to rest your left knee against.
A passenger isn't quite as well catered for when it comes to storage space. The glovebox is deep but quite narrow, making it hard to fit more than a few documents inside, while the door bins are on the small side. You do get two cup-holders, though, along with a shallow storage area under the central armrest for a wallet or phone.
The 911’s sloping roof and tight rear knee room mean its back seats are really only suitable for kids or very small adults – and even then only for short distances. You're better off using the space to throw coats, bags and other odds and ends into.
This is far from a criticism, though, because most of the 911's rivals don't have rear seats at all. In the spirit of weight-saving, the GT3 doesn’t come with rear seats, and you can opt for them to be removed as part of the lightweight package on the GTS.
Seat folding and flexibility
The rear seats split and fold down flat, allowing you to carry surprisingly long loads without much fuss – although getting them in might be a bit of a faff.
It's worth noting that unless you specify the optional full electric adjustment on the Carrera and Carrera S, you have to return the front seats to their original position manually after you've moved them forward to allow access to the rear seats.
The main luggage area, which is in the nose of the car, is big enough to stow a carry-on suitcase, a soft weekend holdall or a few shopping bags.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S both undercut arguably more exclusive rivals including the Aston Martin Vantage and Audi R8 by a fairly hefty margin. Those versions of the 911 still look pretty pricey next to the Jaguar F-Type and its stablemates, the Porsche 718 Cayman and Porsche 718 Boxster.
The Turbo and, particularly, the Turbo S and GT3 versions are vastly more expensive still, although when you consider the performance they offer, they're actually pretty well priced compared with more exotic alternatives from the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Don't expect great fuel economy with any 911. We saw indicated figures of around 34mpg in the GTS after a long motorway run, but tumbled as soon as we used the engine’s performance. You will get plenty of your money back when you decide to sell, though: 911s hold their value very well against depreciation.
Equipment, options and extras
We’d go for the entry-level 911 Carrera, although you'll want to add quite a few options. We'd recommend at least adding the seat upgrade, reversing camera, power-folding door mirrors and keyless entry – but there are plenty more extras you might want to consider.
As you go higher up the model range, you get more standard equipment, but even if you choose the range-topping Turbo S, you'll almost certainly want to tick a few option boxes. The GTS is worth considering if you want the best balance of performance and kit, plus a wealth of options to choose from.
The 911 comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty and three years’ European breakdown cover.
Safety and security
You get plenty of airbags and a sophisticated stability control system in the 911, and the front passenger seat features Isofix child seat mounting points. It’s just a pity you have to pay extra for blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance.
An engine immobiliser and an alarm are fitted as standard, but if you want more protection you can pay for Porsche’s vehicle tracking system, which makes it possible to trace stolen vehicles across most of Europe.
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The 911 didn’t feature in the 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey but Porsche came a disappointing 25th out of 30 brands. It’s worth noting that this was mainly because of the cost of repairs on Porsche cars that went wrong when out of warranty rather than a particularly high failure rate. Read more here
In range-topping Turbo S form, the Porsche 911 can get from 0-62mph in just 2.7sec, while even the entry-level Carrera model requires only 4.2sec. The 911’s top speed ranges from 182mph to 205mph, depending on which model you choose. Read more here
Our pick of the Porsche 911 range is the entry-level Carrera model, which gives you crushing straight-line performance for the lowest price. The Carrera is only available with Porsche’s PDK paddle-shift gearbox – if you want a traditional manual gearbox, we recommend the Carrera GTS. Read more here
The Porsche 911 Carrera S comes with a more powerful version of the 3.0-litre engine in the regular Carrera, producing 444bhp rather than 380bhp. The GTS has an even higher output, 473bhp. The GTS features 10mm lowered sports suspension, a sports exhaust system, the Sport Chrono Pack (an option on the S) and an interior lined with suede-like material. Read more here
All Porsche 911s have a 10.9in touchscreen. It’s one of the best systems of its kind because it’s well positioned and responds quickly to prods. That said, it’s still more distracting to use while driving than the dial-operated iDrive system you get in most BMWs. Read more here
The Porsche 911’s engine is at the rear of the car so the boot is at the front. At 132 litres, It’s not huge, but it’s big enough to take a carry-on suitcase or a few shopping bags. As a bonus, the 911’s small rear seats can be folded flat to form a load platform. Read more here
|RRP price range||£99,275 - £183,260|
|Number of trims (see all)||5|
|Number of engines (see all)||5|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||23.5 - 28|
|Available doors options||2|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£7,178 / £13,364|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£14,356 / £26,729|