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.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
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: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas