Porsche 911 – the one and only

Iain Dooley checks out Porsche's ever-youthful 911.

Engines – When you think 911, Porsche's venerable flat-six motor is never far away. A cornerstone of the 911 brand, it's evolved from humble air-cooled origins to the hi-tech powerhouse of today. In basic trim the 3.6-litre unit is all you'll ever need, while the uprated units for Turbo and GT3 variants show what's really possible. And don't worry, they all sound gruff and snarl like crazy – that's part of the attraction.

Exterior – The '997' model 911 might be a world away from the car's compact beginnings but there's no mistaking the family resemblance. Now much wider but still manageable around town, this streamlined 911 includes all of Porsche's trademark design cues – instantly recognisable headlights, flowing curves, small cabin.

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Interior – Despite giving the illusion of a small cabin – blame the car's modest amount of glazing – there's plenty of room for two adults. The car's rear seats are, realistically, of little use even for children but do offer extra storage space. The low-slung seating position means you need to trust your judgment more than in a regular car, and its engine is never far away – it's located behind you.

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Driving – A rewarding car to drive, the 911 offers keen drivers an impressive blend of everyday competence and supercar thrills. Even in 'basic' Carrera trim, the 911 is hugely entertaining. Factor in four-wheel drive for added all-weather performance and it's hard not to be break into a smile. With its communicative steering, progressive brakes and versatile engine, there's a reason why it's been so popular for so long.

Ownership – Not all supercars are prima donnas. Porsche's 911 is a surprisingly practical performance car, thanks to a good level of cabin storage space, a capacious 'boot' in its nose and the ability to make even the most mundane journey enjoyable. Its size also ensures that the 911 is easy to manoeuvre and park in town.

What to look for – As with any high-performance car, it's important to check for excessive wear and tear. Also, for something this new, a full history is essential. Ask questions if anything is less than perfect, while evidence of parking dents and kerbed wheels should have you looking elsewhere. Furthermore, a test-drive is essential – make sure everything works, inside and out.

Model history – 2004, Porsche introduces latest 911 complete with revised engine and transmission plus various equipment upgrades. Basic engines were 3.6 and 3.8 for 'S' models. Initially available in coupe and cabriolet, with Targa and high-power Turbo and GT3 following.

Reasons to buy – Solid all-rounder, great engines, surprisingly practical.

Reasons to beware – Still some badge snobbery out there, unadventurous looks.

Pick of the range – 911 Carrera 2.

What to pay – 2004 04 �31,175; 2005 05 �34,175; 2006 06 �37,500; 2007 07 �41,100; 2008 08 �44,850; 2009 58 �47,100. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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