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.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
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

    SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

    £300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

    KS1 Teacher

    £95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

    HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

    £32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again