Porsche enthusiasts often debate, which 911 is “the last real 911”. We can’t tell you, which 911 is the last real 911. But what we can tell you is, that the Porsche 991.1 Carrera marks the end of an era which lasted for more than 50 years. The 991.1 Carrera is the last 911 Carrera with a naturally aspirated flat six engine. We have summarized the most important facts for you and want to give you a small guide for a purchase decision.
The car was presented at the IAA in Frankfurt in September 2011. Just before Porsche being taken over by VW, only two years after Porsche themselves failed to take over VW. Therefore, the 991.1 is the last Porsche 911, which has been developed by Porsche as an intependent automaker. Depending on the source you’re quoting, roughly 90% of all the cars parts had been redesigned. Looking at the differences to its predecessor 997 you could see the 991 as one of the biggest steps in the 911 history.
The 911 had grown in size in its seventh iteration. 56 mm in length, but at the same time the body overhangs were shortened by 32 or rather 12 mm, despite its wheelbase being extended by 100 mm. Combined with its lower roofline, the 991 seems to be stretched but still agile. The 991 may be longer but the 997, but had been enlightened. In terms of weight it got closer to the 996 again.
The new design featured thin taillights and Porsche lettering at the back as a reminiscence to long gone times. The model name had been attached below that. As in the good old days, the rear view mirrors were mounted directly to the doors on the Porsche 991. The extendable rear spoiler on the other hand, was not integrated into the engine cover anymore.
It can be rightly claimed, that the Porsche designers had landed a major coup with the 991. In particular, the rear end of the seventh Porsche 911 doesn’t look like a nearly ten year old design. But everybody who lusted after the wide Turbo body had to choose the Carrera 4(S) or live with the narrow body as the rear wheel drive Carreras couldn’t be ordered with the broad jowls.
The Porsche 991 was the first mass produced car, offered with a seven speed manual gearbox.
But the Porsche 991 was more than just show and shine. In the engine compartment, downsizing became a thing for the first time. The base model Carrera only had 3.4 istead of its predecessors 3.6 litres in displacement. With a reduced stroke, the new direct fuel injection (DFI) engine was more lively and rev-happy. Compared to the 997, the base Porsche 991.1 Carrera offers five more horses, 350 hp in total, while the torque figure of 390 nm hasn’t changed.
The Carrera S on the other hand, still had a 3.8 litre boxer engine, putting out 400 hp to the crank. As with the 3.4 litre engine, power was pumped up due to the higher revving characteristic of the flat six. You can wring it out up to nearly 8.000 rpm – in a Carrera! That’s 996 GT3 territory, to put things into perspective. Peak torque of the 991.1 Carrera S is at a healthy 440 nm.
There has been something new in the drivetrain department as well: The Porsche 991 was the first mass produced car, offered with a seven speed manual gearbox. This helped Porsche achieving the CO2 emission goals and improving gas mileage, as the seventh gear could be seen as an overdrive in a similar way as the last gear in the PDK gearbox. Even though fuel consumption and emissions might not be the decisive criteria for potential Porsche buyers, the Porsche 911 remains true to himself as one of the most efficient sports cars on the planet.
But the biggest achievement of the Porsche 991.1 Carrera (S) is the mindboggling balance between comfort, usability and performance. On the famous Nordschleife, the Porsche 991.1 Carrera S with its laptime of 7:40 min is exactly as fast as the 997 GT3! That figure alone shows how much of a step forward the Porsche 991 was. Purists may have criticised, that the 991 is more of a grand tourer, but that impression has nothing to do with the sheer speed of the thing. Maybe that’s just a misconception due to the outstanding refinement of the 991.
On the famous Nordschleife, the Porsche 991.1 Carrera S with its laptime of 7:40 min is exactly as fast as the 997 GT3!
And there’s more on the inside! While the 997 couldn’t hide its relation to the 996, the 991 got a completely redesigned interior. And it looks astonishing. The new centre console is a design trademark, found in all the Porsche models since then. Distinctive hallmark: the switch panels around the gear stick. For the first time, the Porsche 911 got a multi-colour display in the cockpit as a litte foretaste of the 992’s digital dashboard.
After the hoopless 993, 996 and 997 Targas, the Porsche 991.1 was the first 911 since the early 90s to get the classic roll hoop back. The fans were pleased, even though the Targa was only offered with four wheel drive. Porsche’s ad was as follows: “Imagine, you will meet your childhood love again. And she became even more beautiful.”
As usual, there are countless options and combinations, a potential buyer could choose from. If we look at the Porsche 911.1 Carrera (S), options are as follows: Cabrio and Coupé as a Carrera 2/4 and Carrera 2S/4s, the Targa was only offered as a Targa 4/4S. The GTS models are just mentioned besides at this point, as they are a little bit more special than the regular Carreras.
The basic rules apply to the Porsche 991 as well. If you want maximum performance and a puristic driving experience, you’ve got to pick up a rear wheel drive Coupé. In terms of sheer excitement, a base Carrera could even be the better choice, if you put lap times aside. The 3.4 may not be as powerful but the awesome revving nature of the engine could be enjoyed more often without completely smashing the speed limits. But there is a little downer: The base Carrera wasn’t offered with Porsches excellent Active Suspension Management or a limited slip diff as standard.
For winter use, the all wheel drive of the Carrera 4(S) offers reassuring traction. Sun worshippers and fresh air fanatics should consider the Cabrio. If you want something a bit more exclusive and individual, you could lose your heart to the Targa. Porsche’s staggeringly pretty reimagination of the Targa with the wide body and the roll hoops is a thing of beauty and a real head turner. Moreover, the fantastically overengineered roof mechanism is a joy to watch.
The 991.1 has gained a reputation for its excellent build quality
In contrast to the 996 and 997, systematical problems are unbeknownst to the Porsche 991.1. It is well known as very sophisticated and has gained a reputation for its excellent build quality. That reflects on used car prices as well. The MSRP for the base model was around 90.000 Euros and today, there aren’t many used 991.1s around for less than 80.000 Euros. The fact, that the successor 991.2 Carrera is only offered with turbocharged engines, ensures that a Porsche 991.1 Carrera (S) holds its value pretty damn good.
If the Porsche 991.1 Carrera will become a collectible classic is difficult to assess. But it definitely offers a very high level of technical finesse and modern creature comforts. Anybody in the market for a thoroughbred 911, which holds its value even with high mileage, should consider the Porsche 991.1 Carrera. Therefore, without feeling guilty, it can be used for the only thing, the engineers had in mind: driving!