Readers Write

How to buy your new Porsche 911

Premium vehicles like the Porsche 911 have a dizzying array of options, so let Porsche enthusiast Nicholas Travers guide you through the process…

OVER THE YEARS, I have been lucky to own a few Porsches, from a 1985 3.2-litre Carrera to a 2007 997.1 GT3 Clubsport and am currently enjoying a 981 Boxster.  The move to a Boxster following the iconic GT3 is a story in itself which can be saved for another day. Needless to say, I have always been a fan of the Boxster concept from the day it was revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in 1993, and I don’t agree with sentiments that it isn’t a real Porsche.

This week, I have just ordered a new 991.2 Carrera which will replace my Boxster with the hope it becomes a long-term ownership proposition. My usual pattern of car ownership follows a two to four year cycle of turnover based on a personal need for change.

I am not sure if it has anything to do with my age, but at 43 years of age I find myself in a new phase of life and am seeking a new Porsche, a sports car and more specifically a 911 that will keep me satisfied for hopefully a decade or so.  This feels like a lofty ambition given my history of car ownership while looking ahead with fascination at what may come with the radical changes in car design and technology that we will all experience in the coming years such as electrification and hybridization, autonomous driving and the Internet of Things.  Imagining what might happen in the automotive world in the next decade gives me pause for thought on the specification of my ideal 911 today and for the future.

So, to my purchase…

I want to share the model that I have chosen and the options that I have selected and the reasons behind these choices. As I noted in my preamble, the guiding basis of this car purchase is to specify a new 991.2 for longevity of ownership and to stick to a certain budget. 

On the point of budget, you may say, “why not buy a used car?” To answer that, I think there isn’t anything quite like buying a new 911 from the dealership as an experience.  From spending hours on the configurator tweaking the options, to test driving models, lots of deliberating, placing the order, waiting for manufacture and shipment and finally handover/delivery several months later. The main benefits aside from the exclusivity of no one having ever driven the car before is that the warranty is at a maximum and in terms of the car’s specification it is tailored to suit exactly what you want. Given the incredible array of Porsche options, it is very difficult to find a used 911 that meets all your requirements even if the compromise is as small as a wing mirror selection.

Step 1: Model

I have selected a base Carrera model.

The rear wheel drive cars capture my imagination the most and best represent the essence of the fun and engaging 911 driving experience. If cost wasn’t an issue, I would probably go for a Carrera S (309kw, 500Nm).  However, I feel that the base Carrera in its current specification has more than enough power (370hp/272kw) and with its new turbo charged engine it has 450Nm of peak torque delivered from as low as 1700 rpm to 5000 rpm which gives plenty of shove for everyday and spirited driving. 

There is absolutely no ‘bad choice’ when it comes to a 911 model, however I have steered away from the cabriolet and Targa models given that I scratched the convertible itch with my Boxster. The traditional Turbos are not even close to my budget and have a performance envelope that is so high I think I would lose my license within about 5 minutes once behind the wheel.  A GTS would be great, but over budget and a GT3 would ordinarily be my ultimate selection, but again, too expensive for me at the moment and also, not currently available as a new car, it only has two seats and I am not planning on doing many track days any more.

Step 2: Colour

Following the primary selection of the model and keeping to the order on the Porsche Car Configurator, colour is the first choice to make.

In this case, I have chosen GT Silver.  This silver is special as it used to be exclusive to Porsche’s iconic supercar, the Carrera GT.  It is a warm silver and following ownership of a jet black car, silver represents a paintwork maintenance and cleaning dream scenario.  I realise it’s a conservative choice, but again I am thinking long term and trying to create a classic 911 image.  Silver also doesn’t stand out in the crowd too much and with a car like this, undesirable attention is good to avoid at times. For maximum standout effect or to advertise to the world that maybe you are going through a mid-life crisis, Racing Yellow says it best, closely followed by Miami Blue. Guards Red could also fall into this category, but it is a classic sports car colour and for this reason alone has some credibility. 

Step 3: Wheels

Subjectively, I like and have selected the 19 inch wheels that the base Carrera is designed to wear. (no cost option) The other options I don’t particularly love and are costly alternatives. They are all bigger in diameter (20 inches) and maybe not as comfortable on the road in day to day driving as compared to 19 inch wheels. 

There is also a colour choice in wheels and sticking to my classic design mantra I have kept them in a stock silver colour.  Current design trend suggests that black is the best colour for wheels, but I feel it doesn’t fit the character of this particular model.  My previous two cars have had black wheels, but the image they projected was of a much more track/race orientated car.

Step 4: Interior trim

Again, a safe choice on my behalf in going with black in partial leather.  Full leather as an extra cost option would be great, but doesn’t fit my budget at $8,000 – $10,000 depending on what you choose. Some of the colours I would never pick, like Luxor Beige and I would have to think hard about Bordeaux Red or anything brown. I was tempted by the new two tone option called Graphite Blue/Crayon but worried about wear on the crayon/white leather and how I might feel about the colour combination in time.  To that point, black on the interior is a no-brainer selection, albeit not too brave.

Step 5: Seats

I have selected Sports Seats Plus (4-way electric). Again, a no cost option. These are super comfortable seats with big bolsters to keep you in place when driving spiritedly, same as in my Boxster. There is limited capacity for electric adjustment, but I don’t place a huge amount of value in this feature in any case.  A side benefit of these seats is that the manual slide operation makes getting access to the back seats faster and easier for small people like kids and luggage. There is also a weight saving as compared to the fully electric operated ones.

Step 6: Exterior features

This part of the configuring stage is defined mostly by what I have not selected or by what I have removed.

The first thing to do here is remove the model designation.  The car itself clearly advertises that it’s a 911 by its iconic shape and it doesn’t need to be emblazoned on it too! I have also elected to remove the rear wiper which is a handy function, but I prefer the clean look of the car without it.

I am not having a sunroof for four reasons:

  1. The car’s chassis is stiffer (torsional) without it.
  2. The sunroof function adds significant weight to the highest part the car. Not good for a sports car where the engineers have worked so hard to create the lowest centre of gravity as possible.
  3. It is an expensive option.
  4. I can live without it.

I have not selected the LED dynamic headlights which would be cool, but I like the visual simplicity of the standard bi-xenon units more and there is no added cost. The last thing that I elected to fit to the exterior of the car is purely aesthetic, being the Sport Design exterior mirrors.  These have a more elegant mounting to the door which I appreciate visually even though there is nothing particularly wrong with the standard exterior mirrors.

Step 7: Transmission and Chassis

This is the defining moment of the configuring process. MANUAL or PDK!

…and the winner is MANUAL!

It’s a seven speed gearbox and, I think, if you call yourself an enthusiast and still appreciate the enjoyment of having a gear shifter and a third pedal it is the only logical choice.  It makes the car slower from 0 -100km/h and you don’t get launch control as in the PDK, but I don’t care.  If this was a race car, selecting PDK would be the obvious choice or if my driving sensibilities leaned more towards comfort and ease of use or if I wanted bragging rights alongside a Maloo ute at the traffic lights then the PDK wins.  I thought a lot about this decision and contrary to the fact that Porsche’s PDK transmission is universally hailed as being the best, I have decided for my ultimate 911, changing gears is still important to me for the best possible level of driver engagement. (It also happens to be a no cost option.)

There are some really expensive further options in this category which I have avoided selecting, such as ceramic brakes, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control or the front lift kit which may be nice to have but not in my budget. I did however select the Sports exhaust system to get the best possible Porsche engine sound for this model.  It is amazing how important this is to enjoying the 911 experience.

The last option that I have chosen in this category is the Sport Chrono Package.  It is possibly a little less relevant with a manual transmission (no launch control like PDK), but it still provides useful features like the ‘Ferrari’ style dial to the steering wheel to change the driving dynamics, an auto rev-matching function in ‘Sport Plus mode’ (I will be doing my own heel and toe technique most of the time.), dynamic engine mounts and you get the silly clock on the dash as a bonus, plus some lap timing functions within the Porsche Communications Management system.  This option is probably the only one that I am not entirely convinced of the wisdom, but for no other reason it may help a little on resale…in the distant future.

Step 8: Interior

Not too many decisions in this category.  I have selected the smoking package even though I am a non-smoker. Porsche should call this option something else, because the only reason anyone picks it is to get a little lid on one of the receptacles in the centre console and to gain another power port. I have selected the option for floor mats – very mean of Porsche’s that these are not included in a $250,000 car – and I have selected the luggage net because it might be vaguely handy one day to hold an apple or a packet of tissues and it’s a free option, so why not!

There are a number of features within this category that could be good, but what I can say for certain, NEVER SELECT THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS – YOU WILL RUIN YOUR CAR.

  1. INTERIOR PACKAGE PAINTED. (Not the worst choice if your exterior colour is silver or black, but anything else is horrific especially Lava Orange and Racing Yellow. I am an architect, you can trust my colour judgement on this.)
  2. INSTRUMENT DIALS IN VARIOUS COLOURS. (I can assure you they only look good in black.)
  3. SEAT BELTS IN VARIOUS COLOURS. (You definitely don’t need to make a statement with these.)

Step 9: Miscellaneous items

There are several categories that I skipped over here relating to various options for interior trims in leather, wood, carbon, alcantara and aluminium.  They are potentially interesting for special personalisation, but for the most part they represent garish and tasteless features that customers get charged a lot for and tend to ruin the car in my humble opinion – no one should pick a mahogany steering wheel in a new 911!

My final selected option does exist in the leather category. It is a little vain, but fairly benign on the spectrum of things, which is the inclusion of discreet Porsche logos embossed on the headrests.

Step 10: Audio/Communication

This section is mostly irrelevant in Australia because the cars come standard with the key communication and digital information systems and I don’t really need a TV in my 911. There is an option for a Burmester sound system which I am sure is amazing for $7,190 extra, but I am happy to stick with the standard Bose system which is great anyway.

So there it is, my 991.2 Carrera specified to suit my personal taste, driving requirements and budget. I think it achieves the aims that I have set for myself and I am looking forward to hanging on to it for many years to come. I am yet to have a specific date of delivery confirmed, but I expect it may be later in the second half of this year.  I look forward to reporting on the car at that time. 

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Peter Hudson
Peter Hudson
6 years ago

Great article. The enthusiast’s choice on a ‘budget’. Care to mention the purchase price with options?

Nicholas Travers
Nicholas Travers
6 years ago
Reply to  Peter Hudson

It’s $250k and change with the stated options. Not cheap, but at the low end of the 911 model and options spectrum.

Nicholas Travers
Nicholas Travers
6 years ago
Reply to  Peter Hudson

Further to my previous comment. The porsche car configurator generates a drive away price for the model you select and the options you build into it.

Nicholas Travers

Nicholas Travers

Nick is a Melbourne based architect with a life long interest in cars and a particular passion for Porsche sports cars. His interest has crossed over into his professional life and when he isn't designing houses, apartments, cafes, restaurants and pubs he has been known to design Porsche dealerships.