First Drive: Porsche 911 50 Years Edition

The alloys and chrome are old school; the performance is bang up to date
The alloys and chrome are old school; the performance is bang up to date
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AS BIRTHDAY presents to yourself go, this 50 Years Edition of Porsche’s own 911 is certainly a bold move.

Self indulgent? Maybe, but the bottom line is that if you’re going to celebrate half a century of the iconic 911, you might as well do it properly.

And the result is something quite special – a tasteful nod to the car’s past that offers a thoroughly modern driving experience. An abundance of chrome and reimagined Fuchs-style wheels might catch the eye, but underneath the car’s wide bodyshell borrowed from the Carrera 4S is the familiar, yet potent, 400 horsepower 3.8-litre flat-six motor. And in a move that will please the purists, all that power is channelled through the rear wheels.

It’s hard not to stare at the car’s shiny homage to Porsche’s trademark Fuchs alloy wheels of old. They’re bigger now – 20-inch – but, combined with the wide body, the proportions of this “birthday special” are spot on. The extra chrome also helps you step back in time, although it’s tastefully done.

Over the years, the 911 has generated a considerable amount of goodwill from fans and owners. Granted, there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to which 911 to buy, but no one’s complaining that the brand has been diluted. In fact, with everything from entry-level to near race-spec-for-the-road models on offer, the Porsche’s broad appeal is a key attraction.

It doesn’t matter how exquisite the car’s rear seats look, they always have and will forever remain a token offering. Think of them as an upholstered luggage shelf to complement the car’s roomy front boot and it’s not all bad. Cabin space for the front-seat occupants is much better, with ample room to get comfortable. Oddment space for maps, phones and other clutter could be better though, given the car’s Grand Touring abilities.

Although it shares the extra wide body of the Carrera 4S, this 911 50 Years Edition car is a proper back-to-basics machine: plenty of power and rear-wheel drive. Key to maximum enjoyment is to resist the urge to add Porsche’s excellent dual-clutch gearbox and stick with the seven-speed manual. You’ll have to work that little bit harder but the sense of achievement after a spirited drive will be worth it.

The car’s 400 horsepower is more than plenty for all situations, which means attention can turn to the rest of the driving experience. The standard-fit active suspension gains bespoke tuning to accommodate the car’s extra-wide rear track, while Porsche’s generosity also extends to a limited-slip differential and torque vectoring to help ensure the power goes where you need it the 
most. Add the 911’s well-judged steering and you’ve got all the ingredients for an exhilarating experience.

If you start to add up all the extra kit then yes, this anniversary model presents a compelling case for ownership. 911 motoring is never going to be a budget experience, but with the 50 Years car, you benefit from a pleasingly unique blend of styling and mechanical components to make the extra outlay worth it. And despite the prospect of supercar running costs, that 3.8-litre lump is surprisingly frugal when you’re just wafting along – 30mpg is easily achievable, for example.

If you fancy a piece of Porsche history, then this car is a must. The mix of retro and modern styling, that familiar performance punch and iconic silhouette should tick all the boxes for even the most devoted of fans. And aside from the limited edition fuss, this car is also a tremendously good steer. At full steam, that flat six delivers a peerless aural performance, while in the right hands the “traditional” rear-drive layout is easy to exploit for maximum enjoyment.

VITAL STATS

Car Porsche 911 50 Years Edition

Price £92,257

Engine 3.8-litre petrol, 6cyl, 400bhp, 325lb/ft

Performance Max speed 186mph; 0-62mph 4.5s

Economy 29.7mpg combined

CO2 emissions 224g/km