Porsche shows us that it knows how to do retro with this home run
It’s half-eight, I’m still 47 miles from home and my girlfriend has dinner waiting. I’m starving, but I just can’t bring myself to point the nose of the 911 down the motorway. Not tonight. Not when I’m sitting in superb looking houndstooth trimmed seats, perfectly positioned with the three-spoke leather-wrap wheel in front of me. Not when there’s a flat-six up the back, cackling away at idle, developing from a delicious gurgle as I mash the aluminum accelerator pedal. Not when there’s a seven-speed manual, sharp steering and stellar road-holding at my disposal. Not when I’m in the Porsche 911 50th Anniversary Edition.
So what’s the birthday beast offer?
Now this is how you do retro. Porsche is building 1963 examples – the year the 911 first went on sale. On the outside, you can’t miss the Fuchs-style 20in alloys that fill out the wider body donated by the Carrera 4S. There’s also the special colours reserved for the birthday Porsche: our test car oozes charm in this Geyser Grey Metallic. You can also have it in a darker grey or black. Then there are the details: the smoked mascara headlamps, the chrome edges between the taillamps and on the rear engine cover, and then inside, those beautiful seats and anniversary logos on the instruments. There’s cluster of five dials that are green and white, just like the original 911’s.
The 50th’s mechanicals are the same as the Carrera S’s: that means it’s rear-wheel drive with the more powerful 394bhp 3.8-litre flat-six engine out back, giving it a 0-62mph in 4.5sec in the manual version we’re driving. You can shave 0.2sec off if you pay £2525 for the PDK, which you’ll get back with better fuel consumption (29.7mpg plays 32.4). Frankly, we wouldn’t bother: this is a quick car, but if it’s tenths you’re after, you’d be better off looking at the GT3. The 50th is all about the journey, not the destination.
What’s it like to drive?
If you’re tired of 911 plaudits, look away now. What a livable performance car this is. The first thing to do once you’ve warmed up that sweet six is push the centre console’s exhaust button to open up its lungs, and then the Sport button for the steering and throttle response. PASM – Porsche-speak for adjustable dampers – is standard, so hit Sport for these, too, as the ride’s firm but far from backbreaking around town.
The weighting of the steering is superb: you can accurately place this 911’s nose wherever you like, and the stunning brakes not only give you confidence into a corner – where you can give them a dab to give the nose some extra bite – but also in positioning the car in traffic. Any gap, any space – you’ll have it in the Anniversary 911. The sheer grip and road-holding ability of this car means that driving it at six or seventh tenths is a pure joy.
And in town?
You may as well leave the chassis in Sport, but if do choose Normal mode, you’ll have a bit more suspension travel for a tad more comfort. Normal for the engine, too, activates the stop-start (which you can turn off separately) and saves a bit of fuel and won’t interrupt quick take-offs. In either set-up, you have a car that’s easy to drive, with that precision allowing you to confidently slot between buses and cyclists, down narrow lanes and deal with black cabs with the same assurance as you would in a Golf. It’s pliable and obedient. The only thing we’d like is somewhere to put your mobile phone where you can see it…
Is there anything wrong with this 911?
There is one thing against this car: the price. Its £92,257 ask is £8.5k more than the S it’s built on, but if you option the PDK, it’s only £5758 less than a GT3. Yet for that money, you get a car that’s a little bit special, has way more charm and character for a relatively small price. Some will see value in that, others won’t. It’s just enough for us to want to park the 50th in our own garage, as it’s added more desire to an already lust-worthy package. One, please.