Opinion: why the 991 is the best generation of Porsche 911 Carrera

The 991 has endured a potted existence so far, hasn’t it? When the seventh generation was revealed back in 2011, it was touted as the first all-new 911 since the water-cooled 996 in 1998. And, just like its 996 ancestor, the 991 in Carrera form has spent its early years being widely berated by purists – the only difference being that the 996 Carrera has never quite been able to shake away the doubters.

For the 991 though, things are very different; the latest generation Carrera is now accepted (in the main) as a car that’s successfully evolved the 911 story ever further. But where does it sit in the all-time list of base Porsche 911s? After a week with a 991 Carrera 4S Coupe with Powerkit, I believe there’s high possibility it could be the best. Here’s why.

Let’s deal with the drive first. Crucially, the Carrera 4S, much like the 997, feels like a rear-driven 911. The majority of torque is sent to the rear axle the majority of the time, with lightning-quick PTM sending drive to the front in just 100 milliseconds when necessary. The system is now so sophisticated that it can act on information (throttle input, available grip etc) far quicker than what a human is capable of, to the point where you won’t realise what’s happening until it’s happened.

All-wheel drive genius  on the latest 911 is matched by enhanced aesthetics through wider hips and that brilliantly nostalgic rear connecting light.
All-wheel drive genius on the latest 911 is matched by enhanced aesthetics through wider hips and that brilliantly nostalgic rear connecting light.

Thank goodness the 991 iteration comes with the clever torque distribution meter in the dashboard’s all-digital pod (second from right, for those who drive older 911s) to keep you fully informed at all times as to where the drive is being pushed. With increased grip not proving detrimental to dynamics or performance, the all-wheel-driven 991 is the model to go for from the current crop, with no real drawbacks over the C2S other than the price premium, of course.

Similarly, the evolution of PTM is only slight over the 997, but the 991’s 100mm longer wheelbase and reduced overhang from an engine mounted more atop the rear axle means the latest Carrera has a much improved balance to it, even when you’re pushing the car near to its limit. Some may find the added balance dilutes the traditional 911 driving experience, but I say that’s nonsense; the chassis is so planted you can’t help but have the utmost fun attacking corners with confidence (particularly with the PDCC active antiroll optioned for good measure).

Of course, I can’t discuss the ‘feel’ of the 991 without mentioning the electric steering. This new element of the 911 was a big deal upon its inception in 2011. Automotive journalists were left scratching their heads and purists took to forums fuelled by a mixture of outright rage and end-of-days fear. Three years on though, and the furore has all but died. The more you drive a 911 with electric steering, the more you warm to it, and not through lackadaisical acceptance either. Electric steering brilliantly filters out unnecessary noise yet retains precise communication to the driver on turn-in. This sits with the 911s axiom as the perfect everyday supercar, and most of us now realise that. If you disagree with me then I bet you simply haven’t tried electric steering yet.

Opulence reigns supreme in the 991 Carrera, while electric steering is now generally accepted for its brilliance.
Opulence reigns supreme in the 991 Carrera, while electric steering is now generally accepted for its brilliance.

A well-versed critic of the 991 will point to its bulbous appearance over the altogether more lithe-looking 997, and they may have a point at face value. However, delve a little deeper and you’ll realise the 991 is around 100kg lighter than its resplendent model in Gen2 997 form thanks to lighter materials used for the body, while the engine and transmission has had weight pared back too. Then consider the more raked-back windscreen on the 991 and the lower roofline, and there’s no longer a case to answer. The 991 is more aerodynamically and mechanically refined than the 997, and that’s the end of it. Direct injection engines have obviously got more powerful on the 991, and they’re more efficient too.

Inside, the 991 has had revolution over evolution, and it’s all for the better. The Panamera-esque centre console may be off-putting for purists at first but, as cars in general have grown in proportions, it’d be odd for the 911 to continue its trait of producing a claustrophobic interior where the driver and passenger sit practically on top of one another. Greater space breeds more opulence, and the latest 911 has heaps of it inside.

The best seat in the house? In terms of positioning, it's never been better than in the 991.
The best seat in the house? In terms of positioning, it’s never been better than in the 991.

Also, revisions to the seating have born the best-ever position for piloting a 911 you’ll likely come across. With the height of the subframe reduced, you’re now seated lower to the floor than ever before, lowering your centre of gravity in the meantime. Gone are the days of sitting comparatively on top of the steering wheel as per a 3.2 Carrera, or being restricted in seat and wheel adjustments a la the 996. The seat and steering wheel in the 991 provide almost infinite adjustability too, so you’re guaranteed to find your ideal position – and quickly.

There are a few gripes to had with the 991 of course. Rolling tyre noise is still the Achilles heel of any 911, and the rear spoiler looks more like a hinged panel that’s been left open rather than a purposefully deployed aero aid. Popping the decklid also reveals something of a shock to a 911 purist: there’s nothing there aside from two small fans and a filler each for oil and water.

The caged flat six is hidden below some choice panelling (try not to scoff, but Porsche PR have told me it’s all to do with reducing engine noise) and three years on, I’ve still not got used to the sight, or lack of. The fact you can’t see the iconic flat six in its latest iteration is simply criminal (I’m even tempted to start a campaign to get it reversed: #freetheflatsix anyone?).

Zuffenhausen's decision to hide the flat six in the 991 is as infuriating as it is disappointing. Let us gawp at your mechanical genius, Porsche!
Zuffenhausen’s decision to hide the flat six in the 991 is as infuriating as it is disappointing. Let us gawp at your mechanical genius, Porsche!

Aside from that, the 991 in my opinion surpasses any previous 911 Carrera, making light work of the many revisions that perhaps stunted its popularity at first release. Myriad options are available to choose from, and though the Powerkitted 991 C4S in your pictures is heavily clad with extras to place it in the same retail bracket as a new GT3, the new GTS gives a similar specification out the box (minus PCCB) from a reasonable £91,000. That could well be the best of the best – and if you’re interested, we’ve got the first drive for you right here.

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