Review and road test of the Porsche 911 Carrera (991) (2015 - 2018)
CARRERA'S TURBO TIME
By Jonathan Crouch
Porsche's 911 continues to evolve, fundamentally so back in 2015 when the seventh generation '991'-series model was updated with a switch to turbocharging for the entire Carrera-series Coupe and Cabriolet line-up. The result was not only vastly improved efficiency but even more power and torque. Was all of this delivered though, without dilution of the magical experience that's served this model line so well for so long? And if you'd like a 911 Carrera-series model from the 2015-2018-era, which one will suit you best? Rear or four wheel drive, coupe, soft top, business express or race refugee? Here's where we find out.
2dr sports Coupe / Cabriolet (3.0 Carrera & Carrera4, Carrera S & Carrera 4S)
Today, even supercars have to be clean and efficient, which is why since 2015, every mainstream variant in Porsche's 911 range has been fitted with a turbocharged engine. That's significant, for before the introduction of the 2015-2108-era car we're going to look at here, this kind of engine was available only in the very priciest 911s, the exotically-performing part of the line-up targeted at McLarens and lower-order Ferraris. Mainstream 911s in contrast, were always defiantly normally aspirated. But all that changed in 2015. In the continual quest to achieve greater performance along with more efficient returns, even entry-level Carrera models like this one got a brace of turbines out back, though in deference to the continuing top Turbo derivative, they didn't shout about it in their name.
That change has been one of the most fundamental made to the 911 range since the old air-cooled powerplants were replaced by more conventional water-cooled engines in 1996. The original version of this seventh generation '991' series represented another landmark in this model line's history, launched in late 2011 with developments like a new aluminium/steel composite construction, a world-first 7-speed manual gearbox and more efficient electric power steering. Building on that with the introduction of mainstream turbo technology served to further refine the 911 proposition, the resulting gains in pulling power and efficiency complemented by design changes both inside and out. Plus there was the installation of the kind of upgraded media connectivity that buyers in this segment were insisting upon by 2015. This car sold until 2019, when it was replaced by an all-new '992'-series Carrera-series model featuring an updated version of the same engine.
What You Get
It's easy to assume the styling team for the 911 has the easiest job in the world. After all, essentially the same shape has been used ever since the car was originally launched back in 1963 and that continuity is a big part of its appeal. You'd certainly know this post-2015-era '991'-series car at a glance. At the front, the headlamps incorporate four jewel-like LED daytime running lights around the two main bi-xenon bulbs in a look borrowed from Porsche's exotic 918 hybrid supercar. At the rear, there are laser-etched LED rear lamp clusters. This is still the most compact car in its class from this era, with the curvy shape and the trademark wide-arched wings both present and correct. Look a little closer though and there are plenty of examples of evolution in action, many of them prompted by the installation of the turbocharged 3.0-litre engine plumbed-in out-back.
Inside, much changed with the introduced of this facelifted '991'-series car, yet little seems different. So, as ever, you slide behind the wheel to find a traditionally upright dash with an instrument cluster dominated by a large central rev counter, flanked by two circular dial spaces either side. Cabin quality is everything you'd expect from such and expensive super sportscar and includes lovely details that existing owners will recognise, things like the digital and analogue stopwatch, which is centrally placed on top of the dash and was fitted as part of the optional 'Sport Chrono' package. Less familiar is an addition to this improved model, the rather cheap-looking rotary controller that sits below the right hand spoke of the redesigned steering wheel (also fitted as part of the optional 'Sport Chrono' package); this allows you to switch between the various driving modes.
The other key interior change applies to all 911 models and covers the long overdue infotainment upgrade introduced for this updated '991' series model. Previously, the central 'PCM' 'Porsche Communication Management' screen was optional to new car buyers and incorporated relatively little in terms of modern era connectivity. In 2015 though, PCM was made standard and was upgraded to include almost everything that buyers could want. It got a more intuitive 7-inch touchcreen and also includes a 'Connect Plus' package providing wifi internet connection, real-time traffic information and 'Google Earth' and 'Streetview' accessibility.
With most supercars, this is where we'd be finishing our tour of the cabin, but the 911 has its reputation as the most practical and usable model in its class to uphold. Hence the inclusion of the two small rear seats that you'd have to do without in the brand's 718 Cayman and Boxster models - and in many rivals. Much of the time of course, you'll probably be using these rear pews purely as a stowage point of briefcases or designer shopping bags, some of which might fit behind the backrests where there's a 150-litre compartment. Fold the backrests forward and you've have a total of 260-litres of room to use. Whatever body style you choose (Coupe, Targa or Cabriolet), the boot out front is 145-litres in size - or at least it is in a 2WD variant. Bear in mind that the capacity falls to just 125-litres if you go for a four wheel drive model.
What to Look For
No significant faults have yet to develop with the seventh generation '991'-series 2015 to 2018-era turbocharged 911 but it's worth seeking out a Porsche Approved car as even apparently trivial faults can be very expensive to rectify without warranty protection.
The 19-inch alloys fitted to the Carrera S are very prone to kerbing damage so check these over individually. Check the bodywork, especially the bonnet, as this can easily be damaged by owners slamming them onto protruding items in the front boot. 991-series cars are very colour sensitive and white and black cars are currently in vogue with the ubiquitous silver now starting to fall from favour. Speed Yellow attracts a select clientele.
(Based on a 2015 911 Carrera ex VAT - prices quoted for guidance purposes only) Expect to pay in the £10-£15 region for an oil filter, an air filter is about £15 and you're looking at around £42 for brake pads. A brake master cylinder would be around £225. A cylinder head gasket is around £32. Things like clutch discs can be pricey - you're looking at nearly £230 for a Sachs item for example.
On the Road
The engine has always dominated the 911 driving experience and that was just as true with this post-2015-era '991'-series turbocharged Carrera-series model. The 3.0-litre flat six might sound a touch more muted than the previous 4.4 and 4.8-litre normally aspirated units fitted to earlier '991'-series cars but you still get a delightful howl from the 'boxer' motor - and significantly more pulling power too. With so much low and mid-rev torque from this turbo, you can drive it as lazily as you like. Press harder though, and this Porsche's brilliant handling is matched by almost staggering speed. Pick the right combination of engine, gearbox and options and the car will rocket past 62mph from a standstill in less than four seconds, yet a wisely-specified 911 can also be capable of up to 38.2mpg. It's quite a combination.
Carrera buyers choose from two versions of this 3.0-litre turbo powerplant. You get 370bhp with the standard Carrera model - or 420bhp if you opt for the pricier Carrera S, the outputs in both cases being 20bhp greater than they were with earlier normally aspirated '991'-series Carrera-series cars. You can also choose between rear or four-wheel drive and manual or PDK auto gearboxes. Plus there's a 'driving mode' rotary controller that allows you to tailor the throttle response and even the exhaust note to your taste. You can alter the suspension feel too, thanks to the standard 'Porsche Active Suspension Management' system. With PDK auto models, the driving mode controller offers an additional 'Sport Response' button for quicker overtaking. And you'll find plenty of examples fitted with optional systems that can reduce body roll, improve corner turn-in and even richen up the exhaust note.
So turbo power didn't spoil the '991'-series 911 Carrera models. The six cylinder twin turbo unit turned out to be efficient, yet sonorous and gloriously tractable. Plus the interior of this post-2015-era model was more up to date and the infotainment was brought up to scratch. In addition, like its predecessor, this 911 is practical and easy to use - and remains satisfying to drive in a way that rivals can't quite match.
Of course there are some downsides. It's certainly not the cheapest contender in the super sportscar class from this era. The result will be an asking figure that'll take it this car well clear of equivalent versions of the brand's Cayman model, a coupe some used to tell us was better to drive thanks to its mid-engined layout. That's no longer such an issue in the post-2015-era though, thanks to the way that the Cayman's switch into four cylinder power set this 911 back into its rightful place at the top of the company's sporting hierarchy. In summary, what we got here was a worthy evolution of the world's longest running sports car dynasty.
Porsche 911 Carrera (991) (2015 - 2018) review by Jonathan Crouch