Porsche 911 review: Arguably the most complete sports car on sale today
The eighth outing of Porsche’s iconic sports car is its best one yet. But is it worth shelling out over S$700,000 for?
What’s the big deal, you might ask? The new Porsche 911 looks like any of the previous 911s. Well, we’re tempted to draw parallels with a T-rex. The terrifying apex predator was the product of over 100 million years of evolution, only reaching gargantuan proportions towards the end of the species’ existence.
Similarly, the Porsche 911 is the result of nearly 60 years of development, with only incremental changes between each of the eight model generations. Yes, there was the model’s Great Leap Forward in the mid-1990s, but that was an exception.
To look at the new 911 is, well, like any other 911. The new car still has the same VW Beetle-esque silhouette, though 911 nerds will no doubt point toward the new bonnet with its squared-off leading edge (a design homage to classic 911 models), door handles that retract flush with the body and the presence of a light bar that spans the width of its rump, along with a deployable full-width rear spoiler.
Or the new car’s cleaner, more sculptural styling. And indeed, the fact that the new 911 comes exclusively in widebody guise, previously the sole purview of all-wheel-drive, or more performance-oriented members of the vast 911 family.
To most other people, however, it’s just another 911. But to drive it is like nothing before; it’s quite possibly the best it’s ever been. A better, more rounded sports car one could not want for.
BUT WHERE’S THE DRAMA, THEN?
Crank the “key” (not really a key, but more a knob made to look like one, and kept for obvious heritage reasons) and the engine starts with a bark and quickly transitions to an angry, raspy idle… which then settles to a barely audible, gentle burble.
Shift the oddly-shaped, stubby gearlever into D and you’re away. But even pulling away and at low speeds, progress via the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox is so smooth that you wonder whether the new 911 has lost its sports car soul and gone all grand tourer.
If it has, it wouldn’t be too much a surprise, since the model has been steadily gaining refinement and long-haul touring capabilities for some 20 years now.
There is some (actually, quite a bit of) firmness to the ride, and the 20-inch wheels thump quite a bit over things like highway expansion joints. But on the whole its cruising refinement is so good, the loudest noise in the cabin is tyre roar. Which, owing to their width and performance bias, is an inevitability.
All the better to savour the interior of the new 911, which in our opinion is…
THE BEST CABIN IN THE BUSINESS RIGHT NOW
The previous model was no slouch in the cabin department, but this new 911 cranks the quality dial all the way up to 11 and then some.
The straight-edged dashboard may have a design reminiscent of 911s from the 1970s and 1980s, and it still has an analogue rev counter, but everything is as modern as it gets.
All wrapped up in ridiculously high levels of build quality, of course.
Its cabin is full of gorgeous little details, like the floating mount for the stubby gearlever, and the cantilevered spars for its steering wheel controls. Then there’s the crisp, high-resolution graphics for the touchscreen infotainment system and instrument cluster.
The buttons and knobs are a joy to manipulate, so much so that it’s almost easy to forget that…
THE 911 IS STILL A SPORTS CAR
Yes, it’s all too easy to be distracted by the added luxury, along with the visual and tactile verve of the cabin. Until your eyes rest upon that innocuous-looking black knob at the lower right of the steering wheel with an unmarked button at its centre.
Pushing that unmarked button will unleash the full fury of the 3-litre, twin-turbo flat-six in the new 911. Specifically, 450hp and a 0-100km/h time of 3.4 seconds. These numbers are blinding on their own, but even more so when you consider this is just the mid-range Carrera 4S, with performance equivalent to a top-shelf 911 Turbo S from just over 10 years ago.
And given this 911 was equipped with all-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering, grips levels and agility are supreme. It’s a little lacking in engagement, but it makes up for it in its ability to inspire confidence.
You feel properly heroic in this thing, and you get the feeling it has the temperament of a golden retriever – no doubt the decades of 911 development have tamed the model’s more wilful side, such as its propensity toward snap oversteer.
Like we said earlier, the most complete sports car in the game right now, but...
IS IT WORTH SHELLING OUT OVER S$700,000 FOR?
However you decide to look at it, and however inflated your bank account is, that’s a lot of money, and you’re not even getting a top-of-the-line car. When the range-topping Turbo models arrive, expect that to nudge a million dollars.
Then you also have to factor in how the 911’s base price doesn’t include COE or optional extras, and if you’re familiar with Porsche, you can really go nuts with the latter. Our test car had just over S$100,000 worth of extras on it, and those were chosen fairly judiciously. No frippery like custom paint or fancy interior trim here.
Again, what Porsche wants for the new 911 is borderline scandalous money, but then, you are getting what is possibly the best 911 in modern times. And that’s saying something. And also, nobody ever said the best things in life came cheaply.