Road Test: Porsche 911 Carrera 3.4 PDK
Sector: Coupe Price: £73,836 Fuel: 34.4mpg CO2: 194g/km
When Porsche launched the first 911 in 1963, economy meant losing two cylinders and most of its straight-line performance. But the 912E, as the most efficient 911 was called, was a big seller globally, and modern technology allows similar economy without any sacrifice.
This latest 911, known as the 991, is only the third all-new chassis in the car’s 50-year history. Typically it takes a keen eye to spot the changes, but it’s a little longer and wider than the 997 it replaces and the most noticeable updates are at the back, where narrow, LED-lined tail lamps give a very modern interpretation of the classic silhouette.
Inside, Porsche has updated the dashboard in line with the Panamera. The familiar five-pod instrument cluster is still there, now able to display navigation alongside the rev counter, and Panamera-style switchgear runs down either side of the centre console. It’s a very comfortable, supremely well-built place to cover long distances.
But the big news is mechanical. Fitted with the PDK dual-clutch gearbox, the entry-level Carrera 2 tested here is the most economical Porsche 911 since the 912E. At 34.4mpg and 194g/km, it’s not far behind the much less powerful Boxster. On paper it’s not far off the pace of the 996 Turbo of the late 1990s.
While it’s not the world’s most frugal machine, the car displayed an unusual talent on test. With Sport mode off, the gearbox keeps the engine in as high a gear as possible while cruising. So on a long, uncrowded motorway run, it returned 37.2mpg without requiring feather-footed driving. Not only does that exceed its factory figure by nearly 10%, but it’s not far off the figures that fleets would’ve been happy to get from D-segment models 10 years ago.
This means the 911 has two distinct characters. Leave it to its own devices and it’ll cruise along barely above idle speeds, as quiet and comfortable as any coupe. Flick down two or three gears, which is usually required to wake up the engine, and the 3.4 barks into life with a surge of supercar-deserving acceleration. This is still as responsive, sure-footed and adrenaline-surging as the old car, but you do have to dig a little deeper through the gears to bring out its dark side.
Rather like the new Golf, which has also been replaced recently, it’s a car which hasn’t deviated from a popular formula. This is no more onerous to commute in than a petrol-powered Audi, but when conditions allow it’s still every bit a 911. If there’s any real fault, it’s that those right conditions are becoming increasingly hard to find in the UK.
While it’s not a core fleet car, Porsche sells a large share of UK 911s through its business-focused contract hire and leasing channels. PDK is a matter of personal taste, but it’s a brilliant gearbox with genuine efficiency benefits that even the most ardent fan of manual Porsches shouldn’t overlook.