2010 Porsche 911 Carrera S 997.2 vs. 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 991.1 – which is the best modern 911 for £50k?

2019 Steve Hall and Drive-My EN/UK

Which is the best modern daily driver for £50,000? The Gen 2 997 takes on the Gen 1 991. With a theoretical circa-£50,000 budget, Drive-My assesses the merits of two modern-day Neunelfers delivering different driving experiences. Written by Kyle Fortune. Photography by Steve Hall.


997 V 991 Which is the best modern 911 for £50k?


A tough decision, or a foregone conclusion? I’ll admit, when I first started trawling the classifieds for a water-cooled 911 around £50,000, I thought a 997 would be the only option. There are enough of them out there, later Gen2 cars in particular, and with a bit of a stretch, a GTS is possible. However, as is always the case when browsing the classifieds, there’s scope for distraction, and with that budget the 991 represents exactly that.


997 V 991 Which is the best modern 911 for £50k?

997 V 991 Which is the best modern 911 for £50k?

I remember its launch vividly. I covered it back in Drive-My. Along that magazine’s spine is a quote from my first drive: “The 911 does feel like it’s entering the territory of the true GT car now.” The 991 ultimately represents something of a paradigm shift in the 911’s make-up. Even so, subsequent drives in all the different versions would prove Porsche had achieved that trick while still retaining its core driver appeal. I’ve driven countless 997s and 991s, but with the exception of those hailing from the GT department, I cannot recall jumping out of a 997 Carrera directly into the driver’s seat of a 991. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing today though, over the same roads, in the same conditions, with Steve Hall along with his camera for company. Even on the way to pick up the 991 Carrera from Paragon I was pretty convinced I’d be firmly in the 997 camp, as more often than not I subscribe to the ‘older is better’ mantra.

I’ll not deny that I was smitten with the 997 Hall arrived in. It’s owned by a friend of his who chucked him the keys before Hall stuffed it full of his camera gear and pointed it in the direction of Paragon’s Sussex showroom. That 997 is a Carrera S, which would, as it stands, leave some change from our £50,000 budget, but is in fine enough fettle to represent its type and, indeed, represents an opportunity in itself. It’s been used, with nearly 110,000 miles on its clock, which immediately pleases me – this is a 911 that’s been enjoyed as it should be and I cannot help but heartily applaud that.


2010 Porsche 911 Carrera S 997.2 vs. 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 991.1 - which is the best modern 911 for £50k?

2010 Porsche 911 Carrera S 997.2 vs. 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 991.1 – which is the best modern 911 for £50k?


The 991 borrowed from Paragon is, by comparison, box fresh. A 2014 example in GT silver, it’s covered just over 13,000 miles with one previous owner. It feels as new as that sounds, getting in it today little different to stepping in it the day it was delivered. Odometer aside, there’s no indicator that it’s been used at all. Pleasingly simple in its specification, it’s about as close as you can get to being a standard Carrera, its first owner clearly disregarding the many tempting check boxes on the Porsche configurator when ordering. That’s to its benefit: basic Carreras are more often than not the best Carreras. As an ownership proposition the lack of additional, complicated equipment – which could in the future involve expensive bills – is no bad thing. As much as us journalists extol the virtues of options like rear-wheel-steering systems and suchlike on the 911 when new, the realities of real-world ownership and potentially costly repair and replacement scenarios arguably make such technology less appealing long term. The 991 here is, thanks in no small part to its uncomplicated specification, more directly comparable to its 997 predecessor, too.

The older car has the bigger numbers, at least relating to its power. The 3.8-litre engine of the 997 Carrera S pushes out a respectable 385hp at 6,500rpm, its full 420Nm of torque reached at 4,400rpm. That’s enough for a 4.7 second 0 to 62mph time and a 187mph top speed. The 991 Carrera, being the base model to the 997’s S, isn’t able to offer quite that muscle from its 3.4-litre engine, but then 350hp isn’t exactly lacking, nor is the 390Nm of torque it produces. Looking at where it produces it is also interesting, the 3.4’s peak outputs developed higher up the rev range, that full 350hp arriving at 7,400rpm and the maximum torque produced at 5,600rpm. It’s slower, but infinitesimally so. It almost matches the 0 to 62mph time, only missing out by 0.1 seconds at 4.8 seconds, and losing out when you’re running in its home country by 8mph off the 997’s 187mph potential top speed.

It doesn’t feel slow by any measure, and indeed, the need for more revs means that in the 991 you find yourself wringing it out that little bit more than you do in the 997. That’s because the engine feels like it wants you to do so, not because it’s necessary. Don’t for a second think that the 3.4 is peaky or difficult in its delivery; it’s tractable, effortless and quick however it’s driven. It’s rousing enough, too, even here when sampled without an optional Sports exhaust. There’s plenty of engaging aural timbre from the 3.4, more so when the Sport button’s pressed and the Sound Symposer opens a valve to give that flat six a bit more presence in the cabin.

The seven-speed manual, maligned when new, just isn’t an issue, even if its shift lacks the clarity of movement and ease of the six-speeder in the 997. That 997 gearbox remains one of the very best of its type. The six-speed is so crisp, so easy and quick, even here on a car that’s had so many miles of use. The steering too, swift, light and accurate in the 991, is bettered by that in the 997, Porsche’s earliest attempts at electrically assisted power steering lacking the sort of fine-grained feel that is a 997 signature, and a serious part of its overall appeal. Taken in isolation, however, the 991 doesn’t feel like it’s in any way lacking. Indeed, having the 997 here only underlines what a good job Porsche did in making its then-all-new 911 carry over so much of the 997’s driving character, albeit applied to a car offering a greater bandwidth. I’m utterly seduced by 997s, but the 991 makes a hugely compelling case for itself here, and that’s based predominantly on how you might end up using it.

Taking the not-inconsiderable £50,000 budget into consideration underlines that. For many that amount isn’t going to be a problem, while for others it might well be the culmination of many years of saving. That’s where the difference lies between both cars, as buy right and the 997 is likely on a gradual upward trajectory price-wise over time, while the 991 is still in its depreciation curve.

That’s significant as it will likely dictate how you might find yourself enjoying the car, the 997 more likely to be a car that’s secreted away for occasional weekend use – hopefully more driving than polishing, but whatever your poison, it’s your car – the 991 here a car that you can buy and use daily. This 991 in particular is begging for that kind of owner, it a car you could buy to run over three, four or more years, winding tens of thousands of miles onto it as a near-as-new daily driver before gently retiring it to second-car, weekend-toy status in your garage. Do some maths and there’s a compelling argument for doing exactly that – it’s as good as a nearly half-price new 911, which is one hell of a convincing argument.

That’s the opportunity with the 991, and driving it to and from the photoshoot location only confirms that it’s a hugely appealing one. The 991 is a 911 that’s more comfortable, with a broader driving remit that makes it even more usable as a daily driver. The bigger cabin feels current when compared to that of the 997, the 991’s smarter PCM screen and instruments with digital configuration not old enough to look dated, yet. Sadly both 997 and 991 here feature one of Porsche’s least appealing steering wheel designs, though that’s easily fixed with a Sport Design.

The 991’s greater refinement is obvious, the road noise better contained from the front axle, while Porsche’s shifting of the wing mirrors to the doors does reduce wind noise around the A-pillar. The slightly longer wheelbase helps for comfort too, inside for driver and passengers as well as on the road, where the 991’s ride is more accomplished, its nose more resolute. This Carrera has seen PASM remain on the options list – and it’s another choice that’s not been ticked in this example.

That sharper chassis, improved turn-in and more faithful front axle, when new, were seen as something of a departure from the traditional 911 lightness of nose, but it’s not to its detriment today. Indeed, it’s welcome to all but the most die-hard 911 traditionalists. Not that I’m doing so today, but from previous experience the 991 retains the typical 911 ability to use its unique weight distribution to bring the rear into play if you want to.

While Hall’s shooting there’s time to really consider the differentiators between the two cars. The 997 remains one of the best-looking 911s ever. The Gen2 car builds on the successful styling of the Gen1, gaining different lights front and rear as well as revisions to the air intakes up front, and improvements inside, too. It retains old-school signifiers like a proper handbrake, the electronically operated version on the 991 always something of a frustration, especially as it doesn’t engage automatically when you switch off the ignition. Not all progress is good progress.

The 991 outwardly is obviously a 911, only a more modern interpretation than even the 997.2. Yes, it’s bigger, but not to the point that it’s restrictive. Indeed, at 1,808mm wide it’s actually the same width as the 997 Carrera S, it the front axle where the 991 grew over its 997 relation, as well as that useful stretch in wheelbase. Proportionally it looks right, the headlights looking round when viewed straight on, the cool curvature of the glass in profile a particularly neat styling touch. Overall it looks more substantial, yet there’s a lightness to it thanks to neat detailing like the slimness of the rear lights. The pop-up rear spoiler, a 911 signature since the 964, is substantially different with the 991, with nearly the entire trailing edge at the rear raising at speed. It’s unquestionably a more effective, if not as elegant solution as the 997’s, of generating stabilising airflow at the back of the 911.

The 991’s modernity is appealing, the stiffer chassis, which overall weighs no more than the 997 despite the additional safety equipment, gives the suspension a better platform to work from. Even so I’m conflicted – the 997 is such an engaging, interesting car to drive at any speed, it’s little surprise it’s so coveted by people aspiring to 911 ownership. Quite rightfully there’s plenty of praise heaped on the 997, the slickness of its six-speed manual, the polished, if still old-school dynamic make-up and the wonderful feel from its hydraulically power-assisted steering marking it out as one of the great driver’s 911s, if not the greatest.

That put Porsche in a difficult position when it replaced it, but with the 991 they achieved a clever trick, retaining most of that core driver appeal but adding serious comfort, refinement and quality into the mix, as well as a good deal of efficiency. You need to be pushing the 991 a little bit harder for it to reveal its more sporting side, but when you do the rewards are high, the 991 a hugely accomplished and capable driver’s car. The offshoot of Porsche’s development is that it’s a more usable car more of the time, which in reality means you might actually drive it.

Sure, the 997 is no less usable, but there are compromises, chiefly around refinement and comfort. The 997 has already reached the status of modern classic now, and as such is certain to be treated differently by most owners, insomuch that increasingly it’ll be parked or pulled out for occasional, special use. The 991 is a very different proposition, it still in the realms of being essentially a new car. And that’s significant, as while at their very base they’re both 911s, and representative of their respective eras, however close they might be, they both should be driven. I’ve always promised myself a 997 in the garage one day, but the idea of a 991 on the driveway is actually an equally, if not more appealing proposition.

THANKS The 991.1 is for sale at Paragon Porsche. For more information visit paragongb.com or call +44 (0) 1825 830424


 

 

Model 2010 Porsche 911 Carrera S 997.2

Year 2010

Engine

Capacity 3,800cc

Compression ratio 12.5:1

Maximum power 385hp @ 6,500rpm

Maximum torque 420Nm @ 4,400rpm

Transmission Six-speed manual

Suspension

Front Independent; lightweight spring-strut; MacPherson type; anti-roll bar

Rear Independent; lightweight multilink with wheels independently guided on five suspension arms; anti-roll bar

Wheels & tyres

Front 8×19-inch; 235/35/ZR19

Rear 11×19-inch; 295/30/ZR19

Dimensions

Length 4,435mm

Width 1,808mm

Weight 1,425kg

Performance

0-62mph 4.7 seconds

Top speed 187mph

BELOW 997’s interior is far more traditional, and has stood the test of time in both quality and layout. Its six-speed manual is one of the 911’s best ever

“The 997 is such an engaging, interesting car to drive”


 

Model 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 991.1

Year 2014

Engine

Capacity 3,436cc

Compression ratio 12.5:1

Maximum power 350hp @ 7,400rpm

Maximum torque 390Nm @ 5,600rpm

Transmission Seven-speed manual

Suspension

Front Independent; lightweight spring-strut; MacPherson type; anti-roll bar

Rear Independent; lightweight multilink with wheels independently guided on five suspension arms; anti-roll bar

Wheels & tyres

Front 8.5×19-inch; 235/40/ZR19

Rear 11×19-inch; 285/35/ZR19

Dimensions

Length 4,491mm

Width 1,808mm

Weight 1,380kg

Performance

0-62mph 4.8 seconds

Top speed 179mph

“The 991’s greater refinement is obvious”

LEFT Relocation of Sport button from lower dash to centre console is evidence of another logical step forward, as is the full-width rear wing. E-brake replaces 997’s cable handbrake


 

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Additional Info
  • Body: Coupe
  • Type: Petrol
  • Battery: 12v
  • Engine: Flat-6
  • Fuelling: Injection
  • Aspirate: Natural
  • Drive: RWD
  • Trnsms: Manual
  • Price: £50,000
  • Type: Petrol

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