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The toughest design job in the car industry.
The legendary Porsche 911 has an instantly recognisable profile. The iconic shape arrived in 1963, a departure from anything else on the market at the time. An instant success. Images of the 911 have graced the walls of thousands of school boy’s bedroom walls ever since.
I have empathy for the designer, no remit to abandon history but a brief to enhance a styling classic. Porsche is justifiably precious about the 911, even the naming of the car does not change with time. Porschephiles refer to incarnations of 911 by nomenclatures such as 993, 996, 997 and now 991. These are the references used by Porsche to describe the various releases of the 911, but the 911 appellation remains a constant.
I first saw the new 911 at the Frankfurt Motorshow in September 2011, but the crowds vying to see Stuttgart’s newborn meant that I could only drool from afar.
A vision in black
I recently visited my local authorised retailer, Porsche Kendal, and there outside the showroom stood a Basalt Black Metallic Porsche 911 Carrera S. The styling was perfect.
Wind tunnels deprive car lovers of individual designs as the pursuit of a lower Cd results in ever more homogenous shapes. Not so with the 911. It is a unique shape and all the better for it.
I always purchase German cars as they are the motoring equivalent of Swiss watches. They seldom give cause for complaint and offer reliable service. If I had a criticism of many Teutonic steers, it would be a lack of passion, emotion or romance. However, Porsche is the exception.
The admiration of a former owner
I always promised myself a Porsche and in 2001, my new Seal Grey 911 Carrera 2 arrived at my local dealer, based in Liverpool at the time. I remember the purchasing process vividly. I chose my specification with great care and would lie in bed at night thumbing the hardback brochures, waiting for the day my 297 bhp baby would be delivered.
I subsequently sold my 911 as my children grew in physical stature and practical considerations took precedent. However, once you have owned a 911 you never get them out of your system. An exhaust note or a silhouette in the corner of your eye and you are immediately reminded of your previous ownership experience.
I sit in the 991 and commence contrasting it with memories of my 996. It is larger, affording the car a more compliant ride.
The pursuit of perfection has brought significant improvements in performance, economy and CO2 emissions. The 911 Carrera with PDK now has a CO2 figure of 194g/Km, which should keep any self-respecting tree hugger happy.
The 911 Carrera has a 3.4 litre engine with 350 bhp or if you want the full ristretto select the Carrera S with 3.8 litre engine and 400 bhp.
A realistic ownership proposition
Sitting in the passenger compartment and I am speechless. My old 996 was cosetting, functional and beautifully trimmed with hand-stitched leather interior. However, I would not describe it as luxurious. The 991 is luxurious. It shares some of its interior design with the Panamera and the latest Cayenne and is no worse for that. The enlarged footprint of the car, with significantly longer wheelbase, has brought tangible benefits in terms of interior space. This is a pleasant place to be.
A key benefit of a Porsche is that it does not have the fragility of some highly-tuned supercars requiring open-heart surgery every 3000 miles. Service intervals are every 20,000 miles with servicing costs that won’t induce a seizure.
Porsche ownership allows for everyday use, no excessive pampering required. It is stylish and refined without being brash or vulgar. This car is not about bling or showing off, its purchase is based on considered evaluation.
Would I buy one? Yes, the only question, considering my finite budget, would be 911 Carrera S or 911 Carrera with extra options selected.
There is just one other thorny issue. Our two children who now approach 6 feet in stature. I dream of their University days commencing in the not so distant future, when as empty-nesters my wife and I can select our 2+2 and enjoy the delights of European holidays in our Basalt Black 911.