Performance Car of the Year 2019: Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 is the 2019 Auto Express Performance Car of the Year, with the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera and McLaren 600LT commended

There are few automotive icons like the 911, such is the German sports car’s reputation for performance. Now in its eighth generation with this 992 model, the rear-engined coupé is still the choice in this class.

Porsche has honed the 911’s make-up with a new platform that incorporates even more lightweight metal. So despite a growth in size for this new model, it’s still one of the lightest and most agile sports cars in its class. And that’s with Porsche broadening the car’s ability even further by making it a more comfortable, well rounded GT car than ever.

The ride quality is incredible for a sports car that’ll manage 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds (or 3.4 seconds for the Carrera 4 S with the optional Sport Chrono pack). Its standard-fit adaptive dampers soothe in the default setting, despite the car’s 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels, while Sport mode sharpens up the body control to the point where the 911’s chassis claws the road so hard that it’s difficult to unstick it.

The steering is close to the best electrically assisted set-up available. It’s quick and inspires confidence, so despite a growth in size in the move to the 992, it’s still easy to position this larger body on the road.

While that will detract from the involvement and experience for some, it’s also part of the appeal of the car. It’s now a superbly capable cruiser with incredible long-legged refinement, yet it balances this with dynamics and performance that few rivals can match.

The 3.0-litre flat-six has a new turbo set-up and puts out 444bhp in Carrera S form –  currently the only engine option available. The eight-speed PDK gearbox shifts rapidly and almost imperceptibly, and although the motor is quieter, it still emits that trademark bassy growl the 911 is known for.

The evolutionary exterior design is ever-so-subtly sharper and cleaner, while the inside has been the subject of a big overhaul. Key to this is the revised infotainment system that echoes the one found in the Cayenne and Panamera luxury models. Quality is superb, as is the driving position, and with the 911’s trademark 2+2 layout, this is one of the most practical sports cars on sale. Those seats can be used for children or to complement the 132-litre boot in the nose.

Our choicePorsche 911 Carrera S PDK (£93,110)

Only the S model with Porsche’s eight-speed PDK box is available for now; Carrera and manual options will appear later, as well as a hybrid. But the rear-drive Carrera S is all the 911 you’ll need because traction is so good. You get acceptable kit, so revel in the car’s balance, grip, poise and performance, or its usability when conditions restrict your fun. 

CommendedAston Martin DBS Superleggera

Aston Martin’s second century has started with a boom, and the DBS Superleggera is one of the finest cars it has ever produced. The twin-turbo V12 delivers superb performance and plenty of theatre to match the Superleggera’s looks. But it’s the car’s GT comfort that makes it so appealing. It’s ferocious when you want it and relaxing when you don’t.

McLaren 600LT

By applying its more focused LT tweaks to the 570S, McLaren has created the pinnacle of its Sports Series range with the 600LT. Communicative steering, superb braking, a rip-roaring twin-turbo V8 and wonderful chassis balance make this carbon fibre-tubbed sports car one of the most thrilling machines on sale.

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