Porsche 911 Carrera S

Why fans of a 911's 'talkative' steering are going to have to let go...

 

Price: £81,242 (range starts at £71,449)
Engine: 3,800cc, flat-six cylinders, rear-mounted, 400bhp
Transmission: Seven-speed manual or PDK gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 188mph, 0-62 in 4.1sec, 32.5mpg official average, CO2 205g/km

The new Porsche 911 represents only the second time the breed has had a major revamp in its 48-year history. Of course there have been myriad evolutionary changes in the meantime, but the core of the original air-cooled car lasted all the way from 1963 to 1996. Now, after 15 years of the water-cooled replacement, it's time for the third generation.

So there's a lot of baggage here. Yet trickier is the fact that a 911 is like no other car in the way its imperfections and oddities are the key to much of its charm. No new car design has the engine overhanging the rear wheels, but because the 911's ancestry goes right back to a VW Beetle, it has to keep the engine in that unlikely place. Or it wouldn't be a 911.

What, then, are the engineers to do? Cars have to progress; legislation changes, technology improves, customers must be tempted into new products so the car-makers can survive. So a new 911 must reproduce the golden egg without killing the goose.

This new version has electric power-steering, as many new cars do in a quest to reduce energy consumption. It gives a gain of about 0.37mpg. Electric power-steering tends to be less good than old-fashioned hydraulic power-steering at telling the driver what is really happening under the front wheels. But one key 911 attribute has always been its talkative steering – so what now? "People always say they like the way a 911's steering wheel moves in their hands, but it's a bad idea at 280km/hour on the autobahn so we had to change it," says project manager Michael Schätzle. "People will always resist change. We had it with the water-cooled car, but we said now the engine won't overheat, it's quieter and the air-conditioning works properly, so what's not to like? The same will happen this time."

Everything else is new, apart from the PDK double-clutch gearbox option and the engines, although the latter gain both power and frugality. Most fundamental is the bodyshell, 100mm longer in the wheelbase with shorter overhangs and a lower roofline. The front wheels are further apart, and all the outer panels are aluminium, helping make it 45kg lighter.

Straight away you know you're driving a 911, but it feels a slightly bigger car, as the windscreen is further away and you're hemmed in by a high centre tunnel. This height partly explains why the normal handbrake lever has gone, replaced by an inappropriate electric parking brake, which makes manoeuvring a manual 911 unnecessarily awkward. The flat-six engine sounds deeper and smoother than before, and the 3.8-litre Carrera S I'm driving produces 400bhp instead of 385. The regular Carrera's engine has shrunk from 3.6 to 3.4 litres, yet has gained 5bhp to make 350. Both emit usefully less CO2.

The S is sensationally rapid, be it as a seven-speed PDK or, in a world first, a seven-speed manual. That's almost too many ratios for a manual, and in seventh the lever leans drunkenly to the right, but it means you have sportingly close ratios and a relaxed cruising gear. As for the handling, it is close to sublime. The front wheels grip as though guided by a giant Scalextric slot, the rear have colossal traction powering out of a bend, and you can hold a gentle drift without fear of a spin. And that steering? It's perfectly functional, but the backchat has gone and some of the 911's tactile imprint with it.

Objectively, the new 911 is a better car, and it remains the best thrill-giver you can buy at the price, but at the moment it's easier to admire than to love. In time, Herr Schätzle may yet prove me wrong.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This winner of the best new business in shrops...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - Email Marketing Services

    £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a highly or...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...

    Recruitment Genius: Plumber

    £22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders