Is the Porsche 911 the perfect sports car?
Could the new Porsche 911 be the perfect sports car that you've always dreamed of?
‘In the beginning I looked around and could not find quite the car I dreamed of, so I decided to build it myself.’ – Ferry Porsche
Researching Porsche, it’s clear like with many manufacturers they’re proud of their founder, but what’s clearer than most is how much their founders’ values still hold true today. Throughout their history, Ferry Porsche’s dream is what’s always driven them, that ideal which unites everyone who works there, it’s known as the Porsche Principle – and that is the constant, relenting pursuit of the perfect sports car.
To Porsche, that perfect sports car consists of 8 key building blocks: Tradition; innovation; design; functionality; performance; everyday usability; exclusiveness and social acceptance. Each and every single one of their cars, whether it’s the Macan or the 911 must embody all of these, and only when it does, can it have the honour to be called a Porsche.
So, with this firmly in my mind, I jumped in the new Porsche 911 to see how it faired against those stringent, but clear guidelines and discover if they’re more than just semantics.
The 8 building blocks
Porsche’s values and philosophies permeate through everything they do, they’re eager to show you they’ve never forgotten who they are or where they came from. This stands bold for all to see in the new 911, it truly is the sum of its predecessors. Here tradition meets future to form a wonderful machine, that not only respects where it came from but appreciates and truly embraces the need to move forward.
This tradition was clearly evident from the moment I approached this masterpiece. It made me so eager to step in side, I almost snatched the key out of the poor Porsche representative’s hand… who, clearly shocked, gave me space to step inside and get comfortable. And comfortable I did get… the seat supported me perfectly, the steering wheel centre on, everything was just right. Looking up the first thing you notice is the new drivers display and centre console, fit for even the most luxurious saloon… but look deeper and you see that brilliant creation of old meets new. Whether it’s the analogue speedometer or the fact that even with keyless entry I still ‘turned’ the ignition on, harking back to the old days of the crankshaft… for Porsche buttons are for electronics.
Each and every one of these individual components build up to form the perfect experience. You’re never far from tradition, you’re never far from knowing where Porsche came from, yet you sit in a car fit for the future.
'A timeless idea only holds onto its youthful vigour if it’s constantly updated'. This is another brilliant statement which is so powerful because it describes Porsche so well. The 911 has always been at the cutting edge of innovation and the 992 is no exception. This 911 comes with every gadget and gizmo you’d expect from a luxury saloon and with the Porsche Connected Services, for those who want more such as smartphone apps, it’s rarely a few clicks away. Whether it’s the highly refreshed interior, that centre console which displays endless information to the occupants or the innovative engineering which this car is built and designed around. This car truly embraces technology, it’s a beautiful encounter of past, present and future.
‘Innovative engineering that is designed to inspire’. What blew me away most about this 911 was seeing first-hand the technology that makes the car so easy and brilliant to live with. Be that the four-wheel steering which allows it to handle even the sharpest of turns, the braking hold function, that when stationary, with a flick of your left foot applies the brake without the need for you to hold it there, or Porsche’s Stability Management (PSM) which works wonderfully hand-in-hand with ABS and advanced braking to provide the best braking effectiveness no matter what the conditions. Every bit of tech has a purpose, and it’s there to help, not hinder you.
Why did Porsche’s become design icons? Because people found them attractive? Yes, but it’s also because to Porsche form follows function. Porsche’s are undoubtedly beautiful designs, they’ve been setting the benchmark for refinement over redesign for years, and if that quote 'A timeless idea only holds onto its youthful vigour if it’s constantly updated' applies to anything most it’s the 911's design.
Anyone whether a car fanatic or not would see this new 911 and know instantly that it’s a Porsche. Yet look deeper and it’s markedly different from previous generations, in fact it only shares about 15% of its body parts with its predecessor.
While the front embodies that design of old, it’s from behind where most of the changes can be seen. There’s the wonderful rear light strip connecting the tail-lights, the new flared arches which give the car a more aggressive, athletic appearance, and the number plate area that's been moved down providing the car with, what I must say is a fantastic rear-end! Again, this car’s design screams tradition, it knows where it came from, but also where it’s heading… sense a theme here?
Form follows function. Everything on this 911 just makes sense. Take the launch control for example, my Porsche guide asked me to turn off the track and on to the specially designed straight where he’d show me how to activate the launch control. Rolling my eyes, I thought, here we go, this’ll take some learning… but I was so wrong. All you do is… stop, put the car into Sports Plus mode, firmly hold the brake, floor the accelerator, then when you’re ready to go, release the brake and before you know it (in just over 4.0 seconds) you’ve broken the speed limit. And that’s what I mean, everything just makes sense. I think we can all agree there are no unnecessary steps in this process, right?
Another example being the steering-wheel. To set your position you push the electronic handle directly below it, up, down, back and forth to… yes you guessed it, go up, down, back and forth... and that’s it, nothing else, exactly how it should be! Then there’s the buttons on the steering wheel, all clearly placed and there for a reason, making choosing between digital displays or changing driving modes a pleasure and something I didn’t once have to take my eyes off the road for.
To Porsche, every car they make is a sports car, two, four or five doors. There is no doubt the 911 is a sports car, with more than enough performance to satisfy prospective customers, including: 385 PS; 0-62 in 4.0 seconds (with the sport chrono pack) and a 182mph top speed from Porsche’s wonderful horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine.
So yes, the car’s performance is impressive, but ‘performance’ spans beyond power and 0-62 times. It’s how everything on the vehicle just works, it’s how each button serves a purpose, how the door handles close flush against the bodywork and how the seat can move in just about any position you wish. Then there’s the stopping time, during the briefing a Porsche representative told us that every one of their cars must be capable of stopping from 62-0mph in half the time it takes it to do 0-62mph. That’s a stopping time of around 2.0 seconds on the new 911 – and trust me you can feel it!
That's what performance is… power, speed, braking, quality of materials and absolutely outstanding design.
6. Everyday Usability
'Race on Sunday, drive on Monday'. This is what a Porsche must be able to do, and as with previous generations, this new 911 can easily be thrashed at a race track on the weekend and then be a reliable every day car during the week.
Porsche’s Senior Press Officer gave us an example which perfectly demonstrated the 992’s everyday usability. Himself and a crew drove the car from one end of the country, up to the Scottish Highlands, where for a shoot, they then drove it relentlessly up and down a ski hill. On one of the journey’s down, the driver at the time slightly misread the size of a crest forcing the car to jump, thus nicking the floor of the front bumper on landing, pushing it out of position. Unfussed, he jumped out, jammed the flooring back in to position and continued with the task at hand. But the 992’s task was not finished there – Rob then proceeded to drive the car back home to Reading with absolutely no problems whatsoever. This example perfectly embodies what Porsche mean by everyday usability, the 992 is ready for and an absolute pleasure to, use in almost any situation.
A Porsche is more than just a vehicle, it’s a dream and must be special, from the paintwork and the stitching to the customer service, it must be unique and of the upmost quality. When you finally achieve that dream of owning a Porsche, everything must be perfect.
The paintwork and design on the new 911 is phenomenal, however as alluded to, with Porsche this extends beyond that, in to how interactions with the brand make you feel. Owning a Porsche is a dream, when you do get that chance, their service must reward that loyalty. This is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, brands such as John Lewis have built businesses on trust and loyalty, customer advocacy is so important, and that comes from how a brand makes you, as an owner feel. Everything from offering driving experience days, learning about the history of the brand, the safety features, build quality, connectivity, and never forgetting who they are.
8. Social Acceptance
Finally, while a Porsche must be special, a dream, perhaps more importantly it must be an attainable dream, for the few, but also for the many. Now, yes, the new 911 costs from £83,000 and the model I drove, with its optional extras would have cost a fair bit more, so you’d be correct in saying that it’s not exactly the most affordable car. But it’s still an attainable dream, one which you aspire to, you save for, and when you do buy one, through the combination of those 8 building blocks, you and others know you’ve bought the perfect sports car, with a brand that makes you feel part of a family.
So, is the new Porsche 911 the perfect sports car?
Now, I must say I’ve always been a huge fan of Porsche, so admittedly I may be bias. But what I can say is every interaction I and I see others have with this brand impresses me. They’re steeped in tradition and I can categorically say all of the above isn’t just semantics, Porsche live and breathe it, and you can truly see that in the 992. From its wonderfully simple and elegant design, how every notch, button and clip serve a purpose to the technological innovations which are there to help you. Nothing is there just for the sake of it and so many things have a story. Most importantly, as someone who aspires to own a Porsche, their customer offerings make you, the customer, feel part of a dream club and undoubtedly their most important person. So, yes, for me the new Porsche 911 is the perfect sports car.
What car have you always dreamed of owning?