Group tests

Porsche 911 through the ages - Porsche 991 Carrera (2012-)

The new 991-spec Porsche 911 can trace its roots back through half a century of automotive evolution. Richard Meaden charts the iconic coupe’s journey

Seeing the 991 amongst its ancestors is both reassuring and alarming: reassuring because you can clearly see the bloodline in its stance and profile, but alarming because it looks so much bigger than the others. It’s as though someone at Weissach erroneously pressed 110 per cent on the photocopier before sending the blueprints to the manufacturing department.

Still, there’s no denying it’s a handsome machine, and once inside you’re struck by just how finely wrought these new-generation Porsches have become. It does feel wide, though, and not just in the context of the snake-hipped early 911s. You sit low, with the deep dashboard rising away from you to the distant, rakishly inclined windscreen, which further accentuates the sense of size. But it’s still good to twist the ignition key and hear the engine come to life from somewhere near the back bumper.

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The 991 is all about control and it feels planted from the moment you get underway. The gearshift is a bit knotty across the gate, but the fizzy, rev-hungry 345bhp 3.4 flat-six is sensational. It lacks torque, but compensates by building to a wonderful high-rev crescendo. I actually prefer it to the gutsier Carrera S motor, because it feels more alive and requires more effort to reap the ample rewards.

The way it carries speed around the Porsche Experience Centre’s tricky high-speed handling circuit is breathtaking, even in the sections where you have to brake and change direction at the same time. Its grip, traction and poise are mighty, and when you really throw it at a corner, it does that magical 911 trick of finding the optimum balance of slip angle and corrective lock if you just let the wheel slip in your hands. You do have to try bloody hard though.

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It’s miraculously capable – engaging and enjoyable too in absolute basic specification – but despite the searing corner speed and seductive quality, there’s still a sense that something’s missing. That something is the subtle flow of information that connects you to a 911 as completely at walking pace as it does at warp speed. In the 991 every imperfection has been systematically ironed out, those few remaining dynamic wrinkles given a big shot of Botox to smooth things over. Like Amanda Holden, it lacks expression.

NEXT PAGE: Porsche 997 Carrera (2004-2012)

Specifications

Porsche 991 Carrera
Engine Flat-six, 3436cc
Power 345bhp @ 7400rpm
Torque 288lb ft @ 5600rpm 
Transmission Seven-speed manual, rear drive
Tyres 235/40 ZR19 front, 285/35 ZR19 rear
Weight 1380kg
Power-to-weight 254bhp/ton
0-62mph 4.8sec (claimed)
Top speed 179mph (claimed)
Years produced 2012-
Price new £71,449
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