Introduced in 2011, the current version of the Porsche 911 is one of the best in the model’s long and storied history. Longer (by 100mm in the wheelbase and 70mm overall) than the old ‘997’ model (making it more practical and roomy inside), the ‘991’ manages to combine traditional 911 agility and driver engagement with much improved refinement and long-range comfort. Yes, the engine is still slung way out the back, but the tiny rear seats are now a little more useable, there is some fearsome technology on offer and utterly wild performance if you’re prepared to put some serious money down.
The 911 range starts with the basic Carrera 2 and Carrera 2 S models. Both are rear-wheel drive, with the older, pre-2016 versions using either a 3.4-litre 350hp flat-six engine, or a 3.8-litre 400hp flat-six in the S. Post 2016, both use the same 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six with either 370hp or 420hp. Then there’s the Carrera 4 or 4S, which are the same, but with four-wheel drive. Or you can have the open-topped Cabriolet model, or the Targa with its cool folding roof mechanism. Then there’s the quasi-legendary GT3 and GT3 RS models, with their naturally-aspirated 3.8-litre engines, or the mighty 680hp 3.8-litre Turbo S, which can beat V12 Ferraris to the punch. Or how about the new GT2 RS, with its incredible 690hp and rear-wheel drive? Or the stripped-out and back-to-basics R or T models? The 911 range is nothing if not bewildering. Thankfully, there is a straightforward answer to the question of ‘which one…’
Simple. Get a Carrera 4 or Carrera 4S. OK, so some purists will tell you that the slightly heavier four-wheel-drive version isn’t as nice to drive as the Carrera 2. Or the GT3. Or the GT3 RS. Or… look, you get the idea, and while the purists have a point, this is Ireland and it rains a lot and the Carrera 4’s extra traction can be a literal life-saver.
The PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission is worth having as not only does it shave a little off the fuel consumption and CO2 figures, but the odd seven-speed manual gearbox doesn’t have the sweetest of shift actions. Many owners will have spent a fortune on options, but the ones to have are the Sport Chrono pack (which includes sportier suspension, a built-in stopwatch and launch control), Porsche Active Suspension Management (or PASM) and the largest of the available touchscreens. It’s also well-worth trading up to the newer model with the 3.0-litre turbo engine, as it’s a much more efficient unit than the old naturally-aspirated one.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S PDK
Engine: 3.0-litre turbo petrol flat-six
Maximum speed: 303km/h
0-100km/h: 13.4 seconds
Fuel consumption: 4.0 litres/100km
• That name, that badge, that shape
• Exceptional handling and performance
• Surprisingly practical and reliable
• Really, really not cheap
• You need to get some driver training to make the most of it
• Beware of previous owners’ equipment and trim choices
The Porsche 911 has not become a genuine motoring icon over the past half-century for nothing. From Le Mans wins to Steve McQueen to modern-day technology and touchscreens, it’s weathered the worst that the 20th and 21st centuries could throw at it, and come up smiling. The 991 version — more efficient, roomier, better-built — is arguably the best one ever, and that’s really all you need to know.