Not everybody ‘gets’ the appeal of the Porsche 911. Perhaps they find its rear-engined layout too quirky, or see its styling as too classical. Or maybe, when all’s said and done, the performance of a non-Turbo or GT3 model of 911 has just never seemed like it’d be quite enough.
WIDEBODY, WIDER APPEAL
The latest 992 generation of Porsche 911 should convert a healthy number of those people. For while it remains rear-engined, the styling plants it very much in the here and now. The previous approach of using a narrow body for rear-wheel-drive models has now gone, for example, so all models look wide and squat with dramatically swollen rear arches (now made from aluminium, like much of the 992’s body). Within these are enormous wheels, staggered in size to improve agility (that’s 20in at the front, 21in at the rear) and provide yet another layer of visual muscle that surely helps to make this the most imposing standard spec 911 there’s ever been. The slim light bar that runs horizontally between the tail lamps meanwhile simultaneously emphasis the car’s width and provides a taste of the hi-tech environment that lies within.
As for any doubts over the car’s ultimate performance potential – forget it. For, put quite simply, the 992 is surely one of the quickest point-to-point cars money can buy.
PORSCHE 992 PERFORMANCE
Porsche achieves this in both the rear-wheel-drive Carrera S and four-wheel-drive Carrera 4S models (as tested here) via a development of the 3.0-litre flat-six petrol engine from the outgoing 991, twin-turbocharged to produce 444bhp and 391lb ft of torque from 2,300rpm. In time you’ll be able to have your 992 with a manual gearbox, but for now cog-swapping duty falls to an eight-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic.
Combined with the launch control feature that comes as part of the optional Sport Chrono pack (foot hard on brake, other foot hard on throttle, release brake, hold tight) this drivetrain will propel you with complete consistency from a standstill to 62mph in the low 3-second range. Even for those accustomed to very quick cars, the way the 992 skips off the line with not a scrap of wheel slip, and then flicks through its gears like a Formula One car on a hot lap, is hard to fathom.
It’s not just this standing start acceleration that impresses. Because from any speed and with the engine sitting at any revs, planting your right foot results in truly preposterous forward thrust. There’s no building of momentum or delay from turbo lag; you just go from travelling at one speed to travelling at a much higher speed as if a switch has been flicked. Forget too any notion that turbocharged engines don’t have energy at the top of the rev range, because the 992 pulls to 7,500rpm with the athleticism of a sprinter. Goodness knows what the full-fat 911 Turbo models will be like when they arrive…
PORSCHE 992 HANDLING
Just as even those used to the ferocity of a Nissan GT-R couldn’t fail to be impressed by the straight-line pace of Porsche’s latest sports car, so too they’d admire the way in which it can pick apart a twisty road with utmost precision and efficiency. Long gone are the days of fearing you might lift-off oversteer into the nearest hedge, the possibility banished in part thanks to improvements in suspension design over the years, but also because a modern 911 has countless systems to lock it down to the road, from dynamic engine mounts that stiffen as lateral loads increase (also part of the Sport Chrono pack), to traction, stability and torque distribution programmes, a wet mode for, well, wet conditions, and even optional rear-wheel steering to optimise high-speed stability.
Naysayers might point out that the inclusion of such gadgets risks diluting the messages between car and driver, much in the same way that Porsche’s adoption of electrically assisted power steering in place of a hydraulic setup did with the previous, 991-generation of 911. Personally, I buy that argument to some extent, but with the major caveat that whatever dent in communication there might be, it is made up for in the car’s overall capabilities being so much higher. That includes comfort levels, for in the 992 the 911 is a more capable grand tourer than ever before.
Plus, it’s not like Porsche doesn’t know how to make a 911 drive like a 911 should. That’s why it’s worked so hard to get the electronically assisted steering as perfectly weighted and as crisply responsive as it is. Same goes for the brake pedal, the feel of the gearshift paddles, and the way the four-wheel-drive system is rear biased until you need extra traction from the front axle. And rest assured you can still feel the effects of having rear-engined layout when you pick up the pace, the nose still slightly light as you turn into a bend, and the weight over the rear wheels allowing for eye-popping traction on the way out.
And so while you could say that a 992 is perhaps a touch more clinical than its predecessors in how it tackles a challenging road, that doesn’t mean it’s not still a hugely engrossing and ultimately rewarding experience.
THE BEST 911 INTERIOR YET
Perhaps more than anything though, it is the interior of the 992 that shows just how dialled into the hi-tech ethos Porsche has become. For not only is it largely stripped of physical buttons and packed with huge screens (a combination seemingly universally understood among car-makers to mean modern), but it is also thoughtfully designed, beautifully finished and in places even theatrical.
For example, when you climb in, both the dash and transmission tunnel appear to be a neat gloss black, with the focal point being the analogue speedometer with its classic 911 typeface. But as you twist the key and those six-cylinders thump into life behind you (a truly defining 911 moment if ever there was one), so too the dashboard gently glows into life. Buttons for the heater appear around the gear-lever, the whole of the central dash panel turns into a glorious infotainment display, and either side of the rev counter two further screens light up in a digital representation of the classic 911 five-dial configuration. It is arguably the most enjoyable interior this side of a Bentley Continental GT.
Being a 911 you of course get a couple of small but useable rear seats and a fairly large boot space in the nose, the practical benefits of which shouldn’t be overlooked. Mind you, nor should the price. For with the rear-wheel-drive Carrera S now starting from £93,110, the 992 is pushing into ever more extravagant territory. If that doesn’t make you wince, consider that our Carrera 4S test car, admittedly loaded with options, came in at a shade over £126,000.
In Porsche’s defence, that inflated sum does buy you what is true supercar performance, along with arguably one of the best interiors available in any production car on sale today. And the enhancements to the exterior styling, even compared with the 991 that preceded it, notch up the desirability of the 992 by several levels. It’s difficult, in other words, to dispute why a modern Porsche 911 costs what it does. Remember too that more affordable non-S versions are on the way.
This, then, more than any 911 before, is a car to win over those who have so far been immune to the charms of Porsche’s rear-engined sports car. That it can do this without heavily diluting the appeal of the car to its core enthusiast following is yet further evidence that Porsche remains at the very top of its game.
Price: Porsche 992 from £93,110. As tested in Carrera 4S specification, £98,410 (including options £126,100
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Top speed: 190mph
Fuel economy: 28.5mpg (combined)
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