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  • Brilliant handling, brilliant steering, brilliant brakes; evocative engine sound; scintillating performance (especially from S); great gearboxes; relatively practical; gorgeous cabin
  • Standard equipment list could be longer and some expensive options; rear seats highly restrictive; steering has lost some feel (but still great)

OUR RATING
9 / 10



Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review

The Porsche 911 doesn’t quite conform to Charles Darwin’s most famous theory, but the German sports car is the finest example of automotive evolution.

Nearly 50 years since the original was created, the 911’s genetic code has changed little and, unlike humans’ ascent from apes, it remains on all fours (thankfully).

But as with nature, the Porsche 911 has mutated with the best elements to ensure survival against rival sports cars over decades – including those from within if you include the Porsche 928.

There’s that classic coupe silhouette formed principally by that arched roofline plummeting into the rear bumper.

There’s two-plus-two seating that helps driving enthusiast parents convince their other half it’s a family car.

There’s that six-cylinder engine that lies horizontally with its three pistons on each side pumping furiously towards each other like a mechanical imitation of a Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield fight.

And there’s the unique (and quite brilliant) handling resulting from the positioning of that engine at the very rear of the car.

Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review

The Porsche 911 has improved with each generation, and the last, 997-series generation was so good we can only imagine the response of the company’s engineers in Zuffenhausen, Germany, when management once again asked: we want you to make the 911 better again.

The response was only the third complete platform change in the car’s history, followed by its most comprehensive overhaul ever.

Porsche looked at every area of the car to see where weight could be shed, and where fuel efficiency could be improved.

And in terms of mass, the new (991) Porsche 911 weighs 40kg less than its predecessor despite gaining in size.

Most notably, the 911’s longer length includes a wheelbase stretch of 100mm, with the sports car’s footprint broadened further by significantly wider tracks (46mm wider front axle and 52mm-wider rear axle).

Body rigidity is increased, the centre of gravity is improved, and the 911 slices better through the air with improved aerodynamics underneath as well as over the car.

A new 3.4-litre flat-six replaces the 3.6 in the new base Porsche 911 Carrera, though the 3.8-litre flat-six employed in the Porsche 911 Carrera S is carried over.

Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review

Modifications ensure it joins the 3.4-litre in bringing some extra power yet fuel consumption shrinks for both – to official combined figures as low as 8.2L/100km and 8.7L/100km – through a range of measures.

They include a ‘coasting manager’ that decouples the engine and gearbox when the driver lifts off the throttle when cruising, though the biggest contributor to efficiency is the first engine start-stop system fitted to a Porsche sports car (the Cayenne SUV and Panamera four-door already feature such technology).

It’s also one of the quietest and quickest-restarting systems in the market.

No such luck for the efficiency of buyers’ wallets, though, because prices do increase for both Porsche 911 models.

The Porsche 911 Carrera now starts at $229,900, with the Porsche 911 Carrera S kicking off at $263,100.

Those prices bring the world’s first seven-speed manual for a passenger car, or add another $5950 for a PDK seven-speed dual-clutch auto on which the manual is actually based.

We can’t recommend one gearbox over the other, simply because both are excellent and it has to come down to a personal preference.

Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review

A seventh ratio might seem like overkill for a manual, and expect to use it only on freeways as it exists purely as a high overdrive gear to reduce engine revolutions by a fifth for better fuel economy.

Maximum speed – 289km/h in the base 911 manual and 304km/h in the 911 S – is actually achieved in sixth.

There’s a shift gate lock to prevent drivers from making a change from fourth to seventh gear, though despite breaking 200km/h at Sydney’s Eastern Creek (now Sydney Motorsport Park) in both models we never got beyond fifth gear as it wasn’t needed.

We spent a full week with a Porsche 911 Carrera S before hitting the racetrack, but our short stint in a Porsche 911 Carrera at Eastern Creek certainly confirmed buyers of the base model will hardly feel cheated.

The 257kW 3.4-litre engine has a similar lust for revs as the 294kW 3.8-litre, and it barks and yowls like the Porsche ‘boxer’ engines we’ve come to adore, sounding incrementally better as revs head towards the 7800rpm redline.

And the handling and driver-car interaction is sublime in both models.

A deliciously devilish new series of S-curves at the revised Eastern Creek, as well as one of our favourite road routes, highlighted that there’s still that slight pendulum effect at the rear that you don’t get with the mid-engined Cayman, but the German sports car icon has never felt more planted and more glued to the bitumen whether it’s a billiard-table-smooth racetrack or a bumpy, pockmarked road.

Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review

And the limpet-like grip is there even when the 911’s vehicle stability control system raised to its highest intervention threshold – by switching to Sports Plus mode if you have ordered your 911 with the Sports Chrono package.

That allows some more rear-end movement, though aim for quick cornering rather than deliberate sideways showcasing and the 911 four-wheel drifts beautifully across apexes.

The wider distance between all four tyres certainly contributes here, helping to ensure that while the 911 may be bigger, it’s no less nimble.

The Porsche 911 Carrera S also features a ‘Torque Vectoring’ system, which employs a rear differential lock (mechanical with the manual gearbox, electronic with PDK) to dab the inside rear left or right wheel if various sensors – monitoring the angles of the steering and car, throttle position and steering input speed – deem it helpful.

Getting a 911 into corners has always been on of its distinctive driving challenges because of an unnaturally light front end, and the new 991-series turns in more responsively than we remember in the 997.

That movement is initiated by the 911’s new electric steering that we have to admit we expected to disappoint.

Electric motors fitted to steering racks to aid fuel economy by taking the burden away from the engine are renowned for having significantly less feel than hydraulic systems – such as those that have typically powered 911s.

Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review

Yet while a smidgen of feedback may have been lost, the steering still offers heaps of communication and is fabulously precise and linear.

Less surprising are the stupendously good brakes, which are progressive and easy to modulate regardless of the speed you’re looking to slow from, and the manual gearlever that can be pushed and pulled between gates with satisfying accuracy and swiftness.

The PDK auto seems to have artificial intelligence when left to its own devices, such is its instinctive ability to pick the right gear whether flat-out on the racetrack (it also blips the throttle on downshifts) or commuting to work.

It’s just a pity Porsche asks buyers to pay more for the paddleshift levers that are far more effective than the standard but counter-intuitive thumb-shift buttons on the steering wheel.

Balancing the Porsche 911 through corners and accelerating out of them is aided by a throttle pedal that is responsive in normal mode, improved further in Sport and at its most urgent in Sport Plus mode that comes as part of the optional Sports Chrono package.

This also brings some extra benefits for track work, such as launch control that cuts 0.2sec off standing start times and dynamic engine mounts that, when the Sports Plus button is depressed, solidifies magnetic fluid in the mounts to reduce the six-cylinder’s movement in relation to the body in dynamic driving.

You don’t have to drive the new Porsche 911 fast all the time to enjoy it.

Porsche 911 Review
Porsche 911 Review

After a week with the Porsche 911 Carrera S, this sports car remains remarkably easy to live with on a daily basis.

Crucial to this is the suspension that ensures potholes, bumps or lateral surface joins never intrude unpleasantly or harshly into the cabin, bringing a generally settled ride that many regular passenger cars and SUVs fail to deliver.

The 911 S’s most comfortable ride comes if you leave the standard electronically adjustable dampers in the default Normal mode, though even the firmer Sport mode is far from unbearable even if pointless in the city.

The PDK auto is also the smoothest dual-clutch system we’ve tested for stop-start traffic and pulling away from junctions.

And while those two seats in the back may realistically be for the smallest of kids rather than adults, the seatbacks fold down (individually) to create extra cargo shelves in addition to the deeper cargo section behind the seats.

There’s that deep luggage compartment under the front lid, too, making the 911 one of most practical sports cars you can buy.

The Porsche 911’s cabin doesn’t feel noticeably bigger than before, but it’s certainly roomier than the company’s smaller coupe, the Cayman.

It does look and feel more luxurious, though. Starting with materials, soft-touch plastics are widely evident and even the rooflining is made from a tactile, suede-like texture called Alcantara.

The wide, rising console – first seen in the Porsche Panamera – adds a sophisticated aesthetic – and there’s even, perhaps to many a purist’s horror, an electronic handbrake – though the 911 interior hasn’t lost its focus on functionality.

A quintet of dials again comprises the instrument panel ahead of the driver, with the larger, central dial devoted to the tachometer. On the left are oil temp/pressure and speedo; on the right are multi-info display and fuel/water gauges.

Drivers can scroll through the high-definition colour multi-info display to select cool features such as a G-force monitor and additional sat-nav map display.

Porsche’s touchscreen multimedia system also remains one of the best in the business – with the perfect response to finger touches that Jaguar-Land Rover, for example, could learn from.

The front seats are terrific for both long-distance comfort as well as support for quicker driving.

So the negatives are few for the new Porsche 911.

The back seats should come with a ‘Good luck’ message for passengers looking to squeeze into the back, and storage could be better despite the clever (Porsche trad) push-out cupholders and decent sized glovebox.

There isn’t a convenient spot for a mobile phone, for instance, which seems a major oversight in the era of smartphones. There is a shallow console bin but it’s placed awkwardly behind the driver.

And while the Porsche 911 Carrera isn’t short of good standard features – including the brilliant Bose audio system incorporated into both models – for a model that will cost about $250,000 (base) and $285,000 (S) once on-road charges are added, you’d think features such as tyre pressure monitoring ($1590), parking sensors both front and rear ($890), and a sportier-sounding exhaust system ($5890) might be thrown into the mix.

These are small gripes in the bigger scheme of things, however, because the Porsche 911 has – somehow – been made better again yet.

It’s worthy of natural selection, though not the kind Darwin meant.


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PORSCHE 911 BREAKDOWN

Porsche 911 Review
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  • F1

    I like Porsche, nothing more lovely then freely revving engine.. 

    Don’t like how current BMW’s & Audi’s are not ‘rev happy’ 

  • Daniel

    So very impressed by this car. On one hand I wish Porsche would stop updating them so often, but on the other, I am beginning to think Aston Martin are milking their current model range a bit so I probably wouldn’t be happy either way. This is the first 911 in a long time that actually looks beautiful to me, well done, Porsche. 

    • Johnny

      Agreed, the side profile is gorgeous. Driving it would be incredibly distracting, I would be looking at the reflection in the shop windows. 

  • Sam

    Before anyone complains about the price & cost of options…the cheapest Ferrari is about twice the price of this 911… a bit of perspective for ya.

    • runnaln

      So your argument is because Ferrari Rip us off its ok for Porsche to also.

      • c1ee

        Well yes, lesser of two evils. It exists. Like Labor being the lesser evil compared to the Liberal party. Zing!

        • Imo

          I wouldn’t expect a labor Party supporter to understand free market dynamics…or anything much else really…excepting freebies ,handouts & that being rich is a crime….that’s more your language heh c1 ?

          • c1ee

            Not really a Labor voter, but are you a middle aged white male bogan with 3 kids, living in Cronulla with a Commodore? Shite, I just spat out one cliche after another. Tiring isn’t it?

  • Guest

    The inside looks cheap and tacky for a car at this price range!

    • sam123

       I thought the exact same thing!

  • FerryP

    Why have the negative comment about ‘the steering has lost its feel…’ but then in the positive comments you list ‘steering feel’ as a positive? A bit contradictory don’t you think? For someone who has never driven the old hydraulic assisted steering Porsches, the ‘lost steering feel’ that you say has been created from the EPAS would be unperceivable.

  • gt86.com.au

    It looks cheap and tacky because it is not a car of this price range.. I’ll buy a property in the USA, maybe a few and one of these instead ha!

  • Asdf

    I just bought a piggy bank – goal is 300k. I am taking donations now.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Jez Spinks

    FerryP, steering feel is not listed as a positive – it reads “Brilliant steering”, which it is despite a little less feedback than the previous 911′s (and current Cayman’s) steering. As you say, it’s likely most drivers won’t pick the difference and it’s further proof that some car makers can do wonders with these electric set-ups.

  • F1MotoGP

    My first favorite Porsche was the 914.  Was produced from 1969 to 1976. After the 914 till today I just love the 911. The best aftermarket model is the Gemballa GTR 650 Avalanche. 

  • Dman

    Ummm what’s with the Instagram/Hipstamatic/insert-photography-app-here photos? A bit try hard and unprofessional isn’t it?

  • Nerdbustermd

    This car starts at $82K in the U.S… here in the lucky country it starts at $229K. I know due to limited sales and higher taxes here in Oz the vehicle should be more expensive, but considering we’ve been at parity with the dollar for close to a year almost triple the price is disgusting. But, as long as people are willing to pay for it Porsche, as a business, should charge whatever they can get. I’ve got better things to spend my money on..

    • Jackson

      Yeah, maybe you can spend your money on buying some perspective…Ferrari charge double the 911 for their cheapest…

      • Plastic Spacemen

        Ferrari is even worse in this regard, both are as bad as each other. If you are stupid enough to pay the asking price then I don’t blame the car coys.

    • Not a tax-slave

      Porsche doesn’t make the price higher in Australia. The tyrants who call themselves “gov’t” do.  It’s all tax. 

      • Plastic Spacemen

        Only true to a point, the rest is Porche ripping us off.

        • Imo

          If you know the price of the car & you’re willing to pay it & the car lives up to expectations, then how is that a rip-off ?
          Maybe you need to learn the meaning of the word.
          There’s a lot of very very satisfied 911 owners out there.
           If you wanna talk rip-off, how about the 100 k that goes to the fed for no valid reason.

      • Des KSA

        It’s not all tax. LCT is about $57000. Plus you have GST and 5% tariff. In comparison to the US price, before onroad costs, our basic 911 is $173000 inc of GST and tariff but before LCT is added. Twice as expensive as the US.

        Here are a few base model prices around the world. I guess these are before onroad costs in the relevant countries but including taxes and tariffs.
        .
        US                    $82000
        Canada              $94000
        UK                     $114000
        UAE                   $93000
        Japan                 $145000
        Saudi Arabia       $95000  (where I work)
        New Zealand       $175000
        South Africa        $119000

        As a comparison I would pick South Africa. A very small market yet $54k cheaper than Oz. (If you ignore LCT which is out of Porsche’s control.) Don’t say its closer to Europe, that matters very little.

        For all those who think it’s justifiable for Porsche, and others, to offer such ridiculous prices for our market then more fool you. You have more dollars than sense.

        For the person who recently said, in the Cayman forum, that we are off the beaten track when it comes to transporting cars from Europe to Oz and that helps justify  a higher price then consider this. How come Honda can reduce the price of the new Civic, built in Swindon, England, by $7000? It costs bugger all, in the big scheme of things, to transport a car from Europe. $2000 maybe? But not $50000.

        For others that argue about Porsche having to comply cars with ADR’s, that is a fair point except that more and more ADR’s are being aligned with EU regulations for simplicities sake. So one would expect less costs with ADR compliance.

        Porsche, and others, also use the argument that reducing the price of their cars, due to favorable exchange rates, etc, will upset the current owners of their cars that bought at a higher price. I’m pretty sure this is the crux of the matter. That and pure greed. I’d like to thank these companies for being so gracious and saving their current owners from such anguish.

        There has recently been a push for the investigation of price gouging for tech hardware and software in Oz. I would suggest they shouldn’t just stop at just tech and should widen the scope of their investigation to include imported cars as well.

    • Igomi Watabi

      yawn

  • Plastic Spacemen

    Nice car… Way over priced in Australia.

  • Turbo99

    There were ome articles a few years ago that had insider info showing it costs Porsche $30,000 to build a 911 and that Porsche have an extremely high profit margin. But a couple of months later, Porsche forced those articles to be taken off.

    • c1ee

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost Ferrari similar money to make their cars

    • Jake

      I doubt it…German auto manufacturing costs are the highest in the world. 
      Then you’ve got all the r & d costs factored in as well.( including racing costs..& they still make their own transmissions) They’re not a high volume manufacturer so all the costs are spread over relative few cars.
      On top of that unfortunately,  Porsches competitors charge way more than they do so that also influences their pricing.

  • save it for the track

    ‘electronic park brake’??? WTF!!!  Have the ‘car guys’ gone from Porsche? Sports cars should always have a hand brake. Next they’ll be making the ESP/Traction non switchable…

    • LOL

      One needs a standard variable hand (park) brake to make sharp turns.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OBHZX6J63AND22JCG6OONSKCZI Gary

    was at Porsche museum a few weeks ago. The new 911 is longer, lower, longer wheelbase, wider front track. The interior is a huge improvement, basically the same as the Panamerica … in other words its turning into a GT … less of a sportscar now. Engine still sounds brilliant. Guess the new Cayman will fill the sportscat role more and more

Porsche 911 Specs

CARRERA S : 3.8L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 7 SP AUTO DUAL CLUTCH - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 2D CABRIOLET
Car Details
Make
PORSCHE
Model
911
Variant
CARRERA S
Series
997 MY12
Year
2012
Body Type
2D CABRIOLET
Seats
4
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
3.8L
Cylinders
INLINE 6
Max. Torque
400Nm @  4600rpm
Max. Power
261kW @  6600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
173.4W/kg
Bore & Stroke
96x82.8mm
Compression Ratio
11.8
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
7 SP AUTO DUAL CLUTCH
Drive Type
REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
64
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
10.1L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1505
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1300mm
Length
4427mm
Width
1808mm
Ground Clearance
96mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.9
Front Rim Size
8x19
Rear Rim Size
11x19
Front Tyres
235/35 R19
Rear Tyres
295/30 R19
Wheel Base
2350
Front Track
1486
Rear Track
1516
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Power front seats
Control & Handling
19 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Sports Suspension
Driver
Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Power Steering, Satellite Navigation
Entertainment
CD with 6 CD Stacker, Radio Compact Disc Player, Sound System with 13 Speakers
Exterior
Electric Top, Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors
Interior
Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Comfort
Heated Front Seats
Control & Handling
Performance Brake Package
Engine & Transmission
Diff Locks
Exterior
Hardtop, Metallic Paint Special
Interior
Aluminium Trim, Carbon Fibre Trim
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  30,000 kms
Warranty
24 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
8-G-21
Country of Origin
GERMANY