Fleet News

Porsche 911 Carrera

Porsche

Review

I SUSPECT you opened this page expecting to read a gushing eulogy on the merits of the Porsche 911 with some flowery words about driving such a wonderful car. But let’s get the dull stuff out of the way first.

Predictable running costs. Reliability. Strong residual values. Car park cachet. In a wish list for the ideal company car these four themes would occupy the top spots.

And in each sector there is often a car that ticks these boxes more often than any others. But with sports cars, vehicles that fulfill these criteria are thin on the ground. Maserati 4200? Running costs are terrifying. Jaguar XK? On its way out and a cruiser. BMW 6-series? Odd looks don’t always play well. How about a Morgan Aero 8? As you can see, pickings are thin on the ground.

It’s fortunate then, that when the managing director wanders into the office, pondering his or her new car, the new Porsche 911 exists.

This is the ultimate company car. It has everything a fleet needs, applied to the extreme, exclusive end of transportation. For a start, the 911’s 3.6-litre six-cylinder boxer engine is one of the greatest powerplants ever fitted to a car. This is not only for the savage way it will fling you along, but for the fact that it works like clockwork.

A shrieking, highly strung thoroughbred Italian performance engine may evoke more emotion, but try doing 20,000 miles a year in one. It will not happen. It will in a 911.

And because the new 997-generation 911 is a development of a car which has been constantly tinkered and honed, modernised and perfected over 40 years and more than 50 models, Porsche knows its 911 inside out, which means running cost predictability.

It has even extended the service intervals of the new car to an impressive 18,500 miles, reducing the cost of servicing over three years by around a third compared to the 996 model.

CAP predicts a 911 Carrera will cost 63 pence per mile to run over 60,000 miles. That is not cheap at just under £40,000 in total, but 10ppm less than a Range Rover 4.4 V8, and about the same as a top of the range BMW 545i. I know which I’d rather spend my working life in.

As well as fantastic reliability that allows the 911 to be an everyday car, it also has almost unmatched residual values. According to CAP, thrash 60,000 miles out of one for the next three years and it will be still worth 52% of list price. This seems low though. Sold privately, it will fetch a much higher price than that.

In terms of cost to a driver, it will cost £8,200 a year in tax, and whether to run one as a company car depends more on office politics and mileage rates. To opt out and contract hire a 911 would be £1,200 a month – considerably more than the monthly tax bill of £689 for a top-rate payer. It is never worth doing unless the business mileage reimbursement rate is very generous.

In purely selfish individual terms, rather than the total cost to the company, how it makes sense to opt out of a company car scheme when you have an expensive car eludes me.

I apologise for the rather prosaic sermon on running costs and residual values. It’s over now. Part of the reason to start with that side of running a 911 is that any discussion of having one as a company car would be dominated by the cost of it, because there’s very little argument about the merits or otherwise of the car. It is utterly wonderful.

Behind the wheel

THE new 997 model feels even more solid and well thought out than the previous 996 version, although from the outside those with an untrained eye will see little difference.

The headlights are back to the traditional oval shape, while the waist has been slimmed, which cleverly makes the 911 look lighter and more athletic. There are none of the compromises in quality which usually come with a sports car, where the money is often spent on engineering rather than finish. Everything thunks and clicks into place.

The cabin is well appointed with a better layout and better quality materials while the seating position is now perfected, whereas before it was cramped. My weekly shopping even fitted in the front boot.

The phrase that fits the 911 best is ‘finely honed’. Everything feels just so, from the way it drives to the body’s proportions to the expensive smell of the interior.

When you fire it into life, that flat-six engine starts burbling away behind you, but it is fairly undemonstrative. But push the accelerator pedal and it leaps forward, the burble turning into a flat gulping roar. With 325bhp – up 5bhp from the 996 – there is never any shortage of straight line performance and nor would you expect it any other way, but it is dynamically where the 997 has made a big leap forward.

This is the first 91l that doesn’t look down its nose at everybody else when it accelerates. Due to the rear-mounted engine, previous 911s have disconcertingly lifted at the front end as they speed up, rather like a speedboat.

And the optional active suspension controls the body and keeps it especially flat and poised. Some critics have complained that progress is tuning out the ‘Porscheness’ of the 997, but for a driver using this car every day it is difficult to complain about massive levels of grip, wonderfully communicative steering, ideally positioned and weighted pedals, perfect gearshift and violent braking power.

Unlike many sports cars, the 911 is not a difficult car to drive. Everything is perfectly measured so that the car responds to your mood. Want to push it hard? It will squat and grip. Want to cruise? It is as easy as tootling along in a family saloon.

Driving verdict

FOR more than 40 years the 911 has been the everyday supercar. With the 997 it has evolved into an even more formidable vehicle.

Engine (cc): 3,596 flat-six
Max power (bhp/rpm): 325/6,800
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 273/4,250
Max speed (mph): 177
0-62mph (sec): 5.0
Fuel consumption (mpg): 25.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 266
Transmission: 6-sp manual
On sale: Now
Price (OTR): £59,273

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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