Review: Porsche 911 (2019)
Feels special with characterful engines and a superb interior. Handles incredibly well.
Don't expect to use the rear seats.
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Porsche 911 (2019): At A Glance
Porsche's updated 911 is more desirable than ever - with head-turning looks, an improved interior and enough power to tempt buyers away from the Audi R8 and Aston Martin Vantage.
The flagship sports car has been rather comprehensively tweaked for 2019, although it very definitely still looks like a 911 on the outside. Updates include a wider body (both front- and four-wheel-drive versions are now the same width), retractable door handles (gimicky but cool), and a light bar spanning the rear of the car.
The updates are more obvious on the inside. Gone are all the buttons of the old 911 (Porsche was adamant at the time that customers wanted them); in their place, a 10.9-inch infotainment system with just the five buttons below acting as shortcuts to important functions like the hazard lights and suspension settings.
The rear seats remain pretty much useless for anything other than storing luggage, but the interior feels satisfyingly premium in a very German way. There are lots of soft-touch materials and an extensive options list gives endless scope for personalisation.
All models now feature Porsche Active Suspension Management, allowing you to adjust the settings of the dampers depending on your priorities, while there's also a new Wet mode standard across the range. This detects water on the road and primes the car's stability control systems to prevent an unintended loss of traction.
There's more power across the range, with all 911s (for the time being) using variations of Porsche's 3.0-litre flat-six twin-turbocharged petrol engine. The standard 911 Carrera and Carrera 4 have 385PS (up 15PS from its predecessor); while the Carrera S and 4S have 450PS (up 30PS).
As well as the Coupe model, buyers can also opt for a Cabriolet. This uses a soft-top roof which can be opened or closed at the touch of a button at speeds of up to 30mph. While we prefer the look of the Coupe, it comes down to personal preference - and there's not much to be lost by choosing the Cabriolet. Despite using a soft-top (rather than hard-top) roof, there's surprisingly little wind noise, and there's only a marginal impact on acceleration figures.
Even the so-called entry-level models are quick enough. It's the Carrera S that we've spent the most time in and, while Porsche aficionados will always long for a naturally-aspirated engine, the twin-turbo flat-six has plenty of character. The swooshes of the turbochargers take some getting used to, but it certainly sounds more interesting than its smaller relation, the four-cylinder Cayman.
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Porsche 911 (2019): What's It Like Inside?
The Porsche 911 prides itself on being a supercar you can use every day. It certainly feels special, though, with a low-down seating position as you look up at other traffic and out across the long bonnet. Narrow windscreen pillars means you get a clear view of the road ahead. Rear visibility isn't quite as good, but it's much better than more serious alternatives like the Audi R8. And reversing sensors are standard across the range.
It's comfortable enough for long journeys - indeed, we've covered hundreds of miles without a break in the 911 and haven't felt exhausted afterwards. The same can't be said for those in the back. The rear seats really are for occasional use only, and adults will struggle to fit at all, although you can just about squeeze a pair of child seats in the back.
You will have to make some sacrifices if you're planning on a weekend away, too. The main luggage area is in the front of the car and, while there's a surprising amount of room for a couple of soft bags, it's not going to handle a big shop as well as the bigger Panamera.
If you can live with the compromises on the practicality front, the 911 has an excellent, premium interior. There are expensive-feeling materials everywhere, with plenty of leather and other soft-touch fabrics. Hunt as hard as you like, you're not going to find brittle plastics in the 911's cabin.
Behind the steering wheel is an analogue rev counter, alongside two TFT display screens which can display anything from navigation directions to a G-force display.
A slick, new 10.9-inch infotainment system is standard across the range. This provides access to features like DAB radio, climate settings and driver information, adding to the feeling of quality, with clear graphics and fast responses. Our only gripe is that Apple CarPlay is standard but Android Auto isn't available.
Music fans are well catered for with not one but two optional premium audio systems - a Bose surround sound system with 12 speakers, or a high-end Burmester unit comprising of 13 speakers. Our test car was fitted with the £1002 Bose system, which we think will be sufficient for all but the most finely tuned ears.
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What's the Porsche 911 (2019) like to drive?
While the new 911 initially shares the 3.0-litre flat-six engine of the old model, albeit with an increase in power, it's based on a new platform with electrification in mind. That means we'll be seeing mild hybrid, full hybrid and, potentially, a plug-in hybrid version.
In the meantime, buyers are limited to a 3.0-litre flat-six twin-turbocharged petrol engine, producing 385PS in Carrera and Carrera 4 models, and 450PS as the Carrera S and 4S. It's an engine that has its detractors, largely because of its turbocharged character with noticeable noise from the turbos.
That said, we quite like it. It's characterful, and even the more entry-level models provide plenty of performance. The PDK automatic gearbox has eight gears but, no matter which is selected, the engine will pull. It offers plenty of torque low down in the rev range, while clinging onto revs will hurl you forwards with impressive pace. Despite this, it can be relatively economical for a car like this - officially, it'll return up to 31.7mpg depending on spec.
Incidentally, although you can use the paddles located behind the steering wheel to change gear, we rarely felt the need. The automatic gearbox responds with lightening efficiency, dropping gears as soon as you hit the accelerator.
By positioning the engine in the rear of the car - as per 911 tradition - there's a huge amount of grip on offer, especially when combined with four-wheel drive. The electric power steering is excellent, communicating exactly how much grip you've got to play with (lots, usually...), while the car remains composed during high speed cornering.
The Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adjustable dampers - now standard across the range - means the 911 can be set up to cope very well with flowing, bumpy B-roads, or firmed up for track use.
It's very good at the day-to-day stuff, too. It's comfortable on the motorway, although noticeably firmer and noisier than a luxurious saloon for the same kind of money. A mixture of sensors and cameras means it's easy enough to thread around town - much easier than most niche supercar rivals, in fact - but the low seating position won't suit everyone. It's a compromise we'd be willing to make.
While the steering is generally pretty heavy, for an extra £185 you can spec Power Steering Plus, with reduces the amount of steering effort required at low speeds. Although we haven't tried it, we suspect it'd be a worthwhile investment if you regularly drive in town.
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