Test Drive: The New Porsche 911 Carrera S
Ian Lamming discovers that less is more as he drives the simplest form of the classic Porsche 911
SOME things in life should be experienced in their purest form and this is one of them.
One shouldn’t really add orange juice to Champagne – but people do; it’s sacrilege to splurge ketchup on your fine dining – but it happens; and far too many motorists ravage the parts catalogue and stick them all over their car.
And so it is with Porsche’s definitive model, the 911, a global sensation since it first hit the roads in 1964, now in its umpteenth guise and an enduring classic.
The registration plate says in emphatic manner just what this car is – A 911. Which lucky 911 owner wouldn’t swap their first born for that personal plate. It’s probably worth more than my whole car.
It stands resplendent in bright ‘Guard’ red livery and is as standard a 911 as it could possibly be. I’m loathe to use the phrase ‘basic’ because I’m not sure you can ever have a basic Porsche, but this 911 is just that. No sticky on bits, no catalogue pimping-up, it even has standard 19in alloys, and it is absolutely divine.
Parked up, that classic 911 profile and bright paintwork is more than enough to pull the crowds and I even witness grown men taking out their phones to photograph this special car – though I’m inclined to think that the personal plate helps draws attention too.
This 911 is pure, unadulterated sports car, but compared to many in the range, and certainly other makes, is understated. One glance is enough to know exactly what it is, with its retro-lines and perfect proportions.
But don’t get me wrong, there is nothing lacking in this particular Porsche which is a classic example of less being more.
After shoehorning myself into a Caymen GT4, first drive of the day, my bruised body slides easily into the driver’s seat of the 911 as the doors open wide, the seat squab meets my derriere without having to limbo and the wonderful sports seats embrace my frame without catching my coccyx.
In front of my eyes is a classically designed dashboard of clocks with pointers, buttons and switches, the very best from yesteryear when new technology seldom strayed further than pushbuttons for the radio instead of a tuning knob.
Fire it up and six cylinders, laid flat in the back, burst into life with a characteristic 911 growl – it could not be anything else. Twin turbos ensure this 3.0 litre motor has more than enough power – will 450PS do you? It should because 60mph comes up in just 3.5 seconds and the top speed is an autobahn melting 192mph. But the strength of this particular powerplant is that it is happy at any speed, even crawling through town, and boasts a neck-snapping mid-range that will have you flying past the slow stuff on the open road in complete safety.
The other civilised thing about 911 is the ride. Many sports cars have you reaching for the phone to book an appointment with the osteopath but not this one. Ride is sublime and the perfect compromise between comfort and composure. It really is a car you can drive to school or the shops but is also just as happy blasting round a track day. It feels planted too and balanced which is surprising given the weight bias must surely be to the rear and the front end feels accurate and secure
The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxis smooth and rapid with steering wheel mounted paddles should you want to play around. The six-piston aluminium monobloc fixed calliper brakes at the front, four-piston aluminium monobloc fixed calliper brakes at the rear are as astounding in stopping 911 as the engine is at firing it off to silly speeds.
So you know what? This 911 will do me just fine. It’s a timeless classic, tasteful, never approaching brash; but it’s also exhilarating, dynamic, boasting feel-good factor that is off the scale.
Porsche 911 Carrera S
Engine: 3.0 litre with twin turbos
0-62mph: 3.5 secs
Top speed: 192mph
Transmission: eight speed auto
CO2: 220 g/km