In Style + Design

Test Drive: Porsche 911

Porsche has just unveiled the eighth generation of the car that made it famous, with more than a million sold, and counting. And, in typically Germanic style, the new Porsche 911 is even better than ever.

There’s something inherently annoying about Porsche. As a car company, it’s a bit like that kid at school, or that colleague at work, who just seems to always be kicking goals, winning plaudits, succeeding not just excessively, but effortlessly.

When Porsche decided it would start building what looked like sporty Mardi Gras floats, or more specifically a very expensive SUV known as the Cayenne, many experts groaned, and some laughed. Porsche had always been a purist’s sports-car company, unveiling its first supremely wonderful Porsche 911 way back in 1963, and the idea that it would now make big off-road beasts seemed absurd. Today, with the addition of the mid-sized Macan, more than 70 per cent of Porsches sold are SUVs, and the company is stupendously profitable.

The sports cars it still makes, including the just-launched eighth generation of the venerable and venerated 911, could be seen as more of a sideline, in monetary terms, but they are still very much the flagships of the brand – or what car companies call ‘halo cars’.

porsche 911

More than a million Porsche 911 have been sold worldwide. Image: supplied

And it is the 911 that means Porsche, particularly to enthusiasts, more than any other vehicle, with more than a million sold worldwide and counting, and a demand that rarely wavers, no matter the asking price.

The arrival of a new one then is a momentous occasion and, if you’re a car enthusiast, something akin to the unveiling of a new Star Wars film for men of a certain age (coincidentally, that profitable franchise recently past its eighth generation as well).

What is incredible about the 911 is that it succeeds without seeming to try very hard at all. Porsche’s designers are careful to make sure that very little changes about the way the car looks or is structured.

The new one has the same wide-hipped, Coke-bottle shaped lines as the original, and the engine still sits stubbornly between the rear wheels, despite logic dictating that this is a silly place for it, which is made quite evident by the fact that almost no one else tries to do it.

Every 911 does, however, get bigger. Porsche folk explain this is because humans are constantly growing as well, but if you compare older versions with today’s model, you’d assume we’d all become either gigantically taller and wider, or vastly obese.

Adding size does not, however, dilute the potency of this purist Porsche, because every new model also gets faster and more powerful.

porsche 911

The new Porsche 911 is bigger and has an added 22kW of power. Image: suppliedThis latest 911, which does manage to look largely the same and yet ever-so-slightly wider and meaner, with a slick, sci-fi-looking band of light across its shapely rump, has added 22kW of power and now boasts a whopping 331kW from its turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine.

Using bigger tyres than ever at the rear, it gets all that power to the ground hard and fast, with a 0 to 100km/h time of 3.5 seconds, almost half a second faster than the old car, and an even more alarming 0 to 200km/h time of 12.1 seconds, almost a whole second quicker than the superseded model.

To drive this potent and passionate Porsche as we did recently at its global launch in southern Spain, is to spend a lot of time with your jaw hanging open in wonder, and your heart sending messages of panic to your brain. You also seem to blink a lot, possibly in disbelief.

Fortunately, everything about driving this new 911 is dreamily easy and wondrous. You feel, particularly through the superlative steering system (now 11 per cent more direct), connected to the machine, completely in control and, counterintuitively, somehow safe, even at silly speeds, around a race track.

In the way that only truly great pieces of engineering can, it makes you feel like a better driver, and it imbues you with a feeling of driving elation, even at lower speeds.

porsche 911

The new model is also blessed with lush touch screens and fabulous connectivity. Image: supplied

This latest 911, which does manage to look largely the same and yet ever-so-slightly wider and meaner, with a slick, sci-fi-looking band of light across its shapely rump, has added 22kW of power and now boasts a whopping 331kW from its turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine.

Using bigger tyres than ever at the rear, it gets all that power to the ground hard and fast, with a 0 to 100km/h time of 3.5 seconds, almost half a second faster than the old car, and an even more alarming 0 to 200km/h time of 12.1 seconds, almost a whole second quicker than the superseded model.

To drive this potent and passionate Porsche as we did recently at its global launch in southern Spain, is to spend a lot of time with your jaw hanging open in wonder, and your heart sending messages of panic to your brain. You also seem to blink a lot, possibly in disbelief.

Fortunately, everything about driving this new 911 is dreamily easy and wondrous. You feel, particularly through the superlative steering system (now 11 per cent more direct), connected to the machine, completely in control and, counterintuitively, somehow safe, even at silly speeds, around a race track.

In the way that only truly great pieces of engineering can, it makes you feel like a better driver, and it imbues you with a feeling of driving elation, even at lower speeds.

(Lead image: Porsche 911 Carerra S / supplied)

Published 08 February, 2019