New Porsche is pick of the pack
We recently jetted off to Abu Dhabi to sample the latest Porsche 911. Codenamed the 991, could this be the best of the evolutionary breed?
What is it?
This 991 is the latest evolution of the classic Porsche 911 that was born to the world back in 1963.
Compared to its predecessor, the 997, this newcomer is lighter, faster and more fuel-efficient. It also happens to up the comfort ante, thanks to a slightly longer wheelbase - +100mm - which improves both ride quality and overall interior space.
Indeed, slip inside the cabin and you'll notice increased legroom both fore and aft.
Other major advancements include an electro-mechanical power steering system as well as a seven-speed manual gearbox - a world first.
At the moment two models are available: the entry-level 3.4-litre Carrera and a slightly hotter 3.8-litre Carrera S. Both are expected to land in South Africa in March.
How does it look?
Way better than the 997. In fact I think that the 991 is the sauciest 911 to hit our mean streets since the 993 broke cover back in the 1990s.
And it all starts at the nose of the beast, where you'll notice a wider front end that is home to a far more aggressive apron.
Cut with no fewer than three air intakes, this new bumper incorporates a pair of daytime running lights: bright LED strips designed to enhance visibility and splice some extra ocular menace into the mix.
Viewed in silhouette, other cosmetic tweaks are visible, such as a more convex windscreen and lower roofline.
Complemented by a tapering glasshouse, the standout feature of this new Porsche's architecture must surely be its sleeker derriere.
Sharper and more athletic than the one that graced the 997, it houses a pop-up spoiler and a set of redesigned taillights - slim LED units that give a post-modern nod to the 911s of the last century. Subtle. Stylish. Very effective.
Step inside the 991 and you'll discover an interior that feels far more focussed around the needs of the driver.
Purists will dig the fact that the classic five-dial instrument cluster still resides in front of the small leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Though various interior colours and trim materials are available as an option, Porsche's build quality comes standard.
What's it like to drive?
Brilliant. In fact no matter which of the two models you ultimately choose, you will be rewarded with an utterly sublime driving experience.
The Porsche 911 has always had a reputation for being an everyday sports car and here, in 991 guise, it's cushy enough to rival most executive saloons.
Overall refinement has been improved considerably over that of the 997, which means there is now hardly any trace of road or wind noise.
Smooth and easy-going when you want it to be, the new 991 is also a seriously sharp bit of kit when you pop it into Sport Mode.
At launch I drove it around the Yas Marina Grand Prix Circuit and found it an incredibly easy sports car to drive on the limit.
Whereas previous incarnations of the 911 still required a fair amount of respect when it came to swift changes of direction - allowances for the rear-engined chassis layout - the extended wheelbase now makes the 991 feel almost Cayman-like in the way it slices through the corners.
As usual, there is a massive amount of feedback telegraphed through both the chassis and that new electro-mechanical power steering setup.
Though a seven-speed manual comes standard on the 991, I only got to experience the optional PDK, which is, by all accounts, probably the best dual-clutch system on the market today. Finally, both of the available engine variants pack enough power to keep even the most hardened speed junkies entertained. It is happy to spin well above the 7000rpm mark, and I was most impressed with the new 3.4-litre flat-six bolted into the entry-level Carrera.
Mixing enviable economy figures (9.0l/100km meets 212g/km) with substantial muscle, it's all you'll ever need to get the most out of the 991.
Any special features?
Many. But the one that blew my mind the most was the brand new Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC).
Available as an optional extra only on the Carrera S, PDCC is an active driver aid which, through the use of hydraulic stabilising actuators, works by eliminating body roll through corners.
Another great feature can be found in something called Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV). Optional on the Carrera and standard on the Carrera S, PTV operates in conjunction with the rear differential lock to provide maximum poise through corners.
Should you buy one?
Well I can't think of a reason not to. Merging sedan-like liveability with exceptional performance, the all-new Porsche 911 makes a massive amount of purchasing sense no matter which way you slice it.
It's also rather well priced too. In fact, a standard, bare bones Carrera can be yours for under R1-million - a lot of car for the money. Factor in Porsche's great aftersales service and it becomes even more of a no-brainer.