Porsche 911 Carrera (991.2) | PH Used Buying Guide

Key considerations

• Available for £60,000
• 3.0-litre flat-six petrol twin turbo, two or all-wheel drive
• Even the slowest Carrera can do 183mph and 4.4sec 0-62mph
• Not problem-free, mainly on the rattle front
• GTS is predictably awesome in two or four-wheel drive
• … but the ‘lite’ Carrera T might be the one to watch

The 991.2 update of the 991 series of Porsche’s 911, unveiled at the Frankfurt show in 2015, was significant for three reasons. One, it was the model in play when the millionth 911 was built. Two, it gave us the most powerful 911 ever, the 700hp GT2 RS. And three, the 991.2 established turbocharging as the default engine status for all 911s bar the specialist GT3, GT3 RS and Speedster models which were powered by Porsche’s 4.0-litre naturally aspirated dry sump unit. For ultimate turbo power, the blown 3.8 motor endowed the refreshed Turbo with 540hp and the Turbo S with 580hp, but the 911s we’re going to be looking at here are the regular turbocharged 3.0 litre 991.2s.

The first two of these ‘everyday’ 991.2s, surfacing in Porsche showrooms in autumn 2015, were the base model rear-wheel drive Carrera with 370hp (up 20hp on the 991), and the Carrera S, up 20hp on the 991 to 420hp courtesy of its larger turbos and riding 10mm lower than the base Carrera. Both were available in coupe or fabric-roofed cabriolet body styles, and both could be had with either a seven-speed manual or a seven-speed PDK double-clutch auto gearbox.

At the end of 2015, wider-bodied all-wheel drive ‘4’ versions were announced alongside new Targa 4 and 4S models. All 4s had PASM active suspension as standard. After that there was a hiatus until January 2017 when a blizzard of no less than five versions of what many consider to be the seminal 991.2, the GTS, arrived on the scene: coupe and cabrio GTSs in rear-drive, the same two in all-wheel drive, plus the Targa option in all-wheel drive.

With 450hp at 6,500rpm and 406lb ft from 2,150rpm to 5,000rpm the GTS wasn’t just the most powerful rear-drive 911 yet, it was also the most sharply focused ‘everyday’ 911 and overall a mighty machine. Standard kit included PASM adaptive suspension, Sport Chrono pack, a ride height 10mm lower than the S’s, 20-inch centrelock wheels, the wider-track body from the AWD cars, a better-looking steering wheel and the black trim accents that typified GTS models. The basic 2WD GTS coupe cost a little over £94k, £8.5k more than the Carrera S, and it went round the Nordschleife in a bonkers 7min 26sec, or 7min 22sec with P Zero Corsa tyres fitted.

A British Legends Edition came out in 2017 in honour of Le Mans race winners Derek bell, Richard Attwood and Nick Tandy. Available in red (Attwood), blue (Bell) or white (Tandy) it was basically a specced up AWD GTS with Sport Chrono, four-wheel steer, PASM and Dynamic Chassis Control and some badges and decals attached. We’re not sure how many were made – they just said that supply would be ‘limited’, which means nothing – but the £122,376 start price for the Attwood cars (the other two were £123,210 each) attracted some derision from PH posters. Justifiably so it seems, because in the course of putting this together we saw a white 5,000-miler up for sale at just under £110k, which was far from the appreciation you’d normally expect to see in a 911 special.

In late 2017, Porsche revealed the rear-drive Carrera T (Touring), an interesting ‘GT3 lite’ at £85,500 that had the lower-power 370hp manual drivetrain, thinner glass to the side and rear (as long as you didn’t want tints), reduced sound insulation, and a no-cost delete option on the rear seats and infotainment system, all aimed at delivering a pared-down driving experience. Standard spec included 10mm lower PASM Sport suspension, Sport Chrono, 305mm rear tyres, fabric door pulls, a mechanical limited slip diff, shorter final drive ratio (and shorter gearlever) and a twin-exit sport exhaust.

For £1,600, T buyers could add the rear-axle steering system that wasn’t on the options list for the straight Carrera (but was for the S). For another £3.3k they could again trump Carrera buyers by replacing the standard electric seats with a pair of GT3-style bucket seats. You could have your T with a PDK gearbox but then you’d miss out on the limited slip diff and the PTV torque vectoring.

We’ve mentioned the Sport Chrono pack. This option put the cherry on top of the already considerable naked ability of a 991.2. It was visually distinguished by the timing clock on the dashtop and, on the bottom right hand corner of the steering wheel, a knob with four settings: ‘O’ for, hmm, Ordinary (?), or normal, giving a softer ride, earlier upshifts, closed valves on the sport exhaust (a near-£1,800 option), and retaining the stop/start function; ’S’ for Sport, firming up the suspension, sharpening the throttle response, altering the settings of the dynamic engine mounts (that were ‘soft’ in normal driving to reduce vibration, stiffening in more aggressive driving), delaying the upshifts and opening the valves on the sport exhaust; S+ for Sport Plus, obviously Sport with an extra edge; and ‘I’ for Individual, which gave the driver close control over not just the individual chassis and drivetrain settings but also the deployment of the rear spoiler.

The button in the centre of the knob on PDK-equipped 991.2s was the PSRB or Porsche Sport Response Button which gave you 20 seconds’ worth of overboost allied to the near-instant selection of the best ratio by the gearbox. That was quite something. Mind you, all the 991.2 shifted along a bit. PDK-gearboxed 991.2s were on average 0.2sec quicker through the 0-62mph run than the manuals, and Sport Chrono knocked another 0.2sec off the PDK times, which for the coupes were 4.4sec (Carrera), 4.2sec (T), 4.1sec (S) and 3.7sec (GTS). The equivalent times for the PDK’d AWD ‘4’ versions were 4.3sec (Carrera), 4.0sec (S) and 3.6sec (GTS). There was no AWD version of the T.

The 992 successor introduced at the Los Angeles Porsche Experience Center in November 2018 prior to its 2019 entry into the showrooms brought more styling changes and standardised body widths. Essentially of course the basic 911 shape hasn’t altered since 1963, or the late 1940s if you include the 356, and while hell remains unfrozen it probably never will. This constancy, along with the well-controlled pricing of 911s and of course their general fabness is all great news for resale values if you own one.

What if you don’t own a 991.2, but would very much like to? Well, the first thing to say is that there aren’t that many base-power 370hp Carreras floating around. Manual gearboxes aren’t as common as dirt either. The upshot of that is a slight reduction in choice at the ‘bargain’ end of the market. The lowest priced 991.2 we found was a four-owner 365hp Carrera PDK in white with Sport Chrono, sport exhaust, 50,000 miles and a full service history at £58,995.

That was a 2016 model. The 991.2 was launched in 2015 but the chances are that any ‘regular’ 911 wearing a 2015 plate will be a 3.4-litre 911, so be careful. Not that you wouldn’t be careful when making this sort of outlay. So, under £60k for a modern thoroughly developed 911. Could this be your new ‘first 911’ choice? Read on to either confirm that or, possibly, to stick with your original 964 plan. 

SPECIFICATION | PORSCHE 911 991.2 CARRERA (2015-18)

Engine: 2,981cc flat six 24v twin turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed manual or 7-speed PDK auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],500rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],700-5,000rpm
0-62mph (secs): 4.6 (4.4 PDK)
Top speed (mph): 183
Weight (kg): 1,430
MPG (official combined): 34
CO2 (g/km): 190
Wheels (in): 8.5 x 19 (f), 11.5 x 19 (r)
Tyres: 235/40 (f), 295/35 (r)
On sale: 2015 – 2018
Price new: £76,000
Price now: from £59,000

Note for reference: car weight and power data are hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.

ENGINE & GEARBOX

The 991.2 signalled the end of the 9A1 engine. The new car had a twin-turbo 9A2 unit that’s often described as being more ‘linear’ in its power delivery. Although the linearity was clear to most who had experience of both the 9A1 and the 9A2, so was the newer car’s slight lagginess. It was all relative though and very rarely a problem even if you were in the ‘wrong’ gear, which it was hard to be given the spread of torque. Some owners were doubtless happy to view this minimal lag as a sort of oblique tribute to the first (very much more obviously laggy) 911 Turbo.

The rationale for the global switch to turbocharging, irrespective of what car you were doing it to, was to achieve more planet-friendly and efficient internal combustion. The 991.2 ticked that box with a claimed 12 per cent increase in efficiency. There was a small price to pay for the forced aspiration, namely a reduction in high-rpm whizz. The addition of the blower hardware obviously increased engine weight, by around 35kg all told, but the overall 991.2 weight penalty was reduced to 20kg by the use of lighter components elsewhere, most significantly in the exhaust – which incidentally brought a new sweetness to the sound of the 911 engine. 

Mechanical reliability so far has been good. There was a workshop campaign to replace a dodgy vacuum solenoid for the change-over valve (COV) which controlled quite a few 911 intake-related functions. A little valvegear noise could often be heard for the first few minutes on a cold engine and the odd spot of misfiring was noted by some owners, but this would generally sort itself out.

A recall was issued for the expansion tank which could generate bogus low coolant/overheating warnings, and there was another for a fuel system bolt that could corrode. Some water pumps were replaced early on in their lives by more robust items after they had shown leakage mainly on cars from late 2017 to early 2018. There have been faulty thermostats too.

Old school types raised an eyebrow at the plastic sump, one of the weight-saving measures brought in to offset the additional bulk of the turbo hardware. Modern materials technology should have allayed any fears about durability but at least one owner thought that Porsche had dropped a clanger, or perhaps more accurately a clunk, with the factory torque settings for the (also plastic) drain plug, after reporting that his dealer had told him that the sump threads had ‘fallen out’ and that there were backordering issues on warranty replacement sumps, indicating that others had had the same problem. As far as we’re aware there have been no instances of excessive oil consumption with this engine.

Porsche’s PDK transmission established itself as the benchmark double-clutcher with only the occasional fault warning or skipping of even-numbered gears that would usually be sorted by a software reflash or even a simple restart, but you shouldn’t ignore regular changes of fluids and filters. PDK changes should be bullet-quick and syrupy smooth. Top gear was an overdrive for better fuel consumption. On manual cars grabbing seventh could sometimes feel a little awkward but compared to most seven-speed manuals on the performance block the 991.2’s was an absolute pleasure to use. The plastic ring that holds the top of the boot to the manual box’s lever has been known to break.

CHASSIS

You were unlikely to experience a feeling of being shortchanged by the 991.2’s handling as it was uniformly brilliant. Some preferred the ‘purity’ of 2WD, others the added security of AWD. Despite the electricity running through it, Porsche’s electro-mechanical steering setup was also very good indeed.

If a car you’re looking at has PASM, check for clear differences in the feel of the individual ride settings. Worn suspension bushes manifested themselves as distant but noticeable creaks. A chirping noise over bumps these could be caused by dry rear upper strut mounts. A dab of grease would fix that. Not so easily traceable was the odd random deployment of the rear spoiler when hitting a piece of broken road after a long bend, with no reset until the car had come to a complete halt. Normally the spoiler should activate at around 79mph and pop back in at around 53mph.

Any uneven tyre wear at the back of the car needed investigating. Wheel alignments on some new cars with fewer than 1,000 miles on the clock were found to be outside factory tolerances. Carbon ceramic brake discs were an expensive option, but they did last a long time and they didn’t suffer from fracturing between the drilled holes. That could be an issue on steel discs, as could squealing. Tyres are supposed to be N-rated for these cars. Don’t be tempted to leave old (5 years or more) tyres in place just because they’ve not worn down.

BODYWORK

The 991.2 was lower, longer and wider than the 991, and had a longer wheelbase, but we’re talking fractions of an inch here. To all intents and purposes it was the same size. Stying changes were similarly minor. At the front the three-intake design was retained, but the shapes of the openings were different and the two side intakes featured three horizontal slats rather than two. The centre intake had two slats instead of one and its shape was inverted compared to the old car. The LED light stripes were slimmer on the newer car and there was a slightly bigger splitter. The new headlights had 4-point DRLs.

At the back the engine compartment cover had vertical slats instead of horizontal ones, a nice styling change harking back to the first 911s. Air outlets appeared on the outer edges of the rear bumper, after the fashion of the Turbo models but not quite as big. The rear bumper lights were longer in the 991.2 and the taillights were reshaped, incorporating 4-point brake lights.

The only physical differences from the side view were the 991.2’s new wheel designs and its uncovered door handles. Some reckon the 991 looks better than its successor. That’s up for debate, but what isn’t is the .2’s better performance, model for model.

You might hear some squeaks and rattles from your 991.2 on bad roads. Windscreen wipers sometimes came on when the car hit a bump, and there have been stories of windscreen seals ‘melting’. Some 991.2s with the electro-hydraulic front axle lift mechanism have had to have their pumps replaced under warranty.

INTERIOR

There weren’t wholesale cabin changes with the 991.2 update. The steering wheel was new, with better grip pieces and aluminium inserts. The PCM (Porsche Communication Management) with online navigation module was new, too. The upgraded seven-inch display could be operated by multitouch gestures and there was a wider range of functionality, with Google Earth and Streetview both appearing for the first time in a 911. 

Although the design and ambience of the 991.2 cabin was undoubtedly cool and luxurious, there have been a few blips for users. Seatbelt mechanisms could rattle if someone at the factory forgot to put the felt-like material into the buckle receptacle. Adaptive Sports Plus heated seats were a sweet option, especially in something like the Carrera T with the rear seats removed.

Rattles could also develop in the door cards, from the sunshade when it was in the open position, and from the dash area around the tweeter units, part of the Bose audio system which was not universally admired for the smoothness of its sound. The Burmester alternative seems to have received more positivity among owners. 

The infotainment interface didn’t suit everybody either. The steering wheel controls didn’t always work for some owners, and when they were working they didn’t seem to dovetail that well with the touchscreen controls. The PCM would occasionally self-reboot. Not every owner succeeded in activating the voice command function. The hand of the Sport Chrono clock could fall off. Alcantara headlinings could come loose at the back, requiring new clips.

Some owners reported an odd banging or thumping noise which dealers have told them was coming from a valve in the air conditioning unit and was normal. Air conditioning compressors have been known to lock up, in one case at least because of insufficient or no oil having been put in at whichever factory they came from, and ventilated seats could stop ventilating, leading to a service bulletin alerting techs of a wiring chafing problem. New wiring harnesses were fitted under warranty. There was a recall for faulty airbag screws in 2019.

PH VERDICT

If you were an advertising copywriter given the job of writing an ad for the Porsche 991.2, ‘engineered into excellence’ wouldn’t be the worst starter for ten for your headline. Sheer persistence over many decades has allowed Porsche to turn a frankly daft design into something so brilliant that the need to advertise it has been all but done away with.

They’re not perfect, mind. Rattles and squeaks of various kinds do happen. Quite a few of the random events in a 991.2 seem to occur as a result of bumps in the road. You wonder whether there might have been difficulties maintaining the quality of the supply of some outside components. Even so, and even among those who have had problems, the respect for the 991.2’s abilities is very high. If you’re looking for your first 911 and you’re on a budget, chances are you won’t be looking at the halo GTs. They’re special, sure, but they’re also very expensive.  And if your priority is driving rather than investing, any of the 3.0 turbo 991.2s will serve you well.

Which one though? The GTS is routinely nominated as the sweet spot of any Porsche range, and in 991.2 guise it is indeed a stonking car with either the PDK or manual box, and (some say) especially so in rear-wheel drive. We’ll dig one up for you to look at at the end.

However, for the kind of minimalist, short-run appeal that you can easily see accumulating interest and value as the years roll by, the 2018 Carrera T has a lot going for it. They’re noisier than the standard Carrera thanks to the reduced sound insulation, thinner glass and wider rear tyres, but as long as you don’t spend all your motoring life on rubbishy roads or motorways you should be able to live with it, particularly when you bear in mind that the 20kg weight saving over the S means that the T feels not far short of the powered-up S on the road. Throw in its status as the last narrow-body 911 and it becomes a real beard-stroker for the thinking Porsche buyer.

Carrera Ts aren’t massively plentiful on the used market but there were at least half a dozen on PH Classifieds at the time of writing including this tempting manual car with GT3-style carbon fibre bucket seats and 11,000 miles covered at £82,495. This 13,000-miler dips under the £80k mark and so does this PDK specimen with just 9,000 miles and reportedly £20k worth of extras including the Sports Plus heated seats. The most affordable 991.2 we found on PH classifieds was this 30,000 mile, 2016 base-engine Coupe in black with extended red leather and 20-inch alloys. Yours for £66,499.

For £3k more you could have a similarly mileaged and rather handsome Carrera PDK coupe with Sport Chrono, 20-inch alloys and PDLS, Porsche’s matrix-LED dynamic lighting system for bendy roads. That same money – just under £70k – will get you into a higher mileage 420hp 2WD S like this big-spec early ’15 coupe  All-wheel drive 4S coupes of the same vintage and mileage won’t be that much different on price, also starting at around £70k. The GTS premium is pretty strong. The cheapest one on PH was this rear-drive 2017 car with 34,000 miles, a good spec and an £85,995 price tag. You can pay well over £100k for a late model S, GTS or Targa.