Even the entry-level Carrera offers serious performance
No matter which version you choose, the 911 delivers crushing straight-line performance. The entry-level Carrera features a 3.0-litre turbocharged engine with 365bhp; it can hit 62mph from a standstill in just 4.4 seconds if you opt for the lightning-fast seven-speed PDK automatic ’box (a seven-speed manual is standard).
This will be more than enough performance for most buyers, but step up to the Carrera S model and you’ll get 414bhp. There’s a lot more urgency at low revs when you put your foot down, too, helped by a generous 369lb ft of torque (the Carrera has 332lb ft).
The standard rear-wheel-drive models offer seriously impressive traction, even in the wet – far more so than rivals such as the Jaguar F-Type Coupe. However, if you want even more unflappable road manners in slippery conditions both the Carrera and Carrera S are available with four-wheel drive. These ‘4’ models are heavier and more expensive, though, so aren’t really necessary.
Meanwhile, the Turbo and the Turbo S have larger 3.8-litre engines and deliver gut-wrenching acceleration with 0-62mph taking around 3.0 seconds. These range-topping models are only available with four-wheel drive.
The most hardcore 911 of all is the GT3 RS, which offers 493bhp from its 4.0-litre engine, and gets a host of track-focused aerodynamic upgrades and weight-saving measures. Unfortunately, the order books for this model are full, so unless you’ve already snapped one up you’ll have to pay a grossly inflated price on the second-hand market.
Finally, the Porsche 911 R is a lightened, rear-wheel drive model that comes with a six-speed manual gearbox (unlike the automatic-only GT3 models, and the seven-speed manuals offered on lower-end 911s). We haven’t driven it yet, but this is also sold out in the UK and will command a hefty premium on the used market.
Porsche 911 ride comfort
Firm yet comfortable and composed
Like most modern sports cars, the 911 is available with a variety of suspension set-ups to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets. As standard, the entry-level Carrera models come on 19in wheels, although the adaptive dampers do an impressive job of cushioning you from battered road surfaces – as long as you avoid the firmer Sport setting.
True, big ridges or bumps will still unsettle the ride, but for such a focussed car the 911 is surprisingly comfortable. Confronted by a series of challenging crests and dips, it remains remarkably flat and stable, whereas many rivals would throw you around in your seat.
The Carrera S comes with larger 20in wheels so is marginally less forgiving at low speeds, and the optional lowered PASM suspension (which brings a 20mm drop in ride height) makes the ride firmer still and brings little benefit elsewhere. We’d recommend avoiding it.
Porsche 911 handling
Precise, agile and incredibly grippy; four-wheel-drive versions are virtually unflappable
Probably our only gripe with the latest 911 rests with its steering, which doesn’t offer quite the same superb feedback that was a hallmark of older models. Still, the steering is precise and consistently weighted, and otherwise the Porsche delivers a handling masterclass. The grip and composure it can muster in tight corners is truly staggering, and it responds instantly to your steering inputs and feels incredibly planted.
The four-wheel-drive versions are even more tenacious, giving you greater confidence is slippery conditions, while the Turbo editions have a four-wheel-steering system (optional on the Carrera 4 models) that helps make up for their extra weight. Even these all-weather 911s have playful handling, if not quite as light-footed as the rear-wheel drive models we favour.
Regardless of which version you pick, the 911 is compact enough to feel wieldy on narrow B-roads.
Porsche 911 refinement
Road noise is intrusive on coarse surfaces
For all its dynamic ability, the 911 isn’t the most refined choice for covering lots of miles. The wide tyres create a lot of noise over coarse surfaces, although wind and engine noise are both relatively well suppressed.
Versions with the PDK automatic gearbox rifle up through the gears quickly in normal mode, keeping the revs down and the engine hushed. Engage Sport mode, though, and the ’box will kick down a gear at the merest hint of you pressing the accelerator pedal.
Similarly, cars fitted with the optional sports exhaust make a full-blooded and thrilling noise when accelerating. Fortunately, you can switch this feature off when you’re not in the mood, and the engine never gets too boomy or intrusive.
This entry-level 911 packs a serious punch and can hit 62mph from a standstill in as little as 4.4 seconds – it will satisfy all but the most power-hungry buyers. The standard gearbox is a seven-speed manual, but a seven-speed PDK automatic is a worthwhile option.
3.0 Carrera S
With 414bhp and the more low-down pulling power than the Carrera, the Carrera S offers the kind of performance normally reserved for supercars, with 0-62mph taking a scant 4.1 seconds if you specify the optional PDK automatic gearbox, as we’d suggest you do.
One of the most scintillating engines in any sports car, the 3.8-litre flat six unit in the 911 GT3 revs to a screaming 9000rpm and uses heavy-duty motorsport technology.
4.0 GT3 RS
The GT3 RS packs 493bhp from its non-turbo 4.0-litre engine and a range of weight-saving measures over the already ballistic GT3.
911 R 4.0
The 911 R shares the same 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine as the GT3 RS, only complete with a six-speed manual gearbox. We’re yet to drive it.
Absurdly fast and somewhat unnecessary, the Turbo has 532bhp and a massive 524lb ft of torque that make it insanely fast on any road. However, the chances to use its performance on the road are rare.
3.8 Turbo S
The most powerful 911 money can buy, the Turbo S is priced like a supercar and has the pace to match, with 573bhp and a top speed of 205mph.