Porsche 911 review

The review

In its maturation into its eighth (992) generation, the Porsche 911 has grown. But that’s brought with it even more comfort and technology, which means the iconic sports car is now also a better GT, offering more technology and practicality than ever. As such, it continues to set a high bar is this segment.

However, it’s not at the expense of performance – as today’s Porsche 911 is also faster and more agile than its predecessor. It still offers the package’s unique rear-engined dynamics but with that comes a friendly side that makes the 992-generation an even more exploitable sports car.

Of course, the price has risen as a result of all this extra tech and ability, but the 911 is still a stunning piece of engineering. Together with improved efficiency, these changes on the 992 mean it offers even more of what the 911 is famed for: comfort, usability and performance.

The 911 is the model that has come to define Porsche. After more than 50 years in production the car is now into its eighth generation, and while Porsche is ploughing ahead with its SUVs, with this 992 iteration of the car it’s not forgotten its lineage and what has made Porsche a great performance brand: in many ways the 911 is better than ever.

The range is split into three main models – Carrera, Carrera S and Carrera 4S – each available in coupe or convertible Cabriolet form. There’s also the extreme Turbo S and Turbo S Cabriolet, if you need even more power. A short spell on Porsche’s online configurator shows just how customisable the car has become, with near-endless equipment packs and personalisation options. You can even specify exclusive PTS (paint to sample) paint. In time, we can expect a version with a manual gearbox, while later, the usual GTS, GT2 and GT3 models will appear.

The 911 has grown – it’s 20mm longer than its predecessor, although the wheelbase is the same length, while it’s also now 45mm wider at the front. There’s no narrow-body version like there used to be, so the two and all-wheel drive cars are all based on the same shell, which now boasts less steel and much more aluminium in its construction to help keep the weight increase relatively modest over the 991.2.

It still occupies the same sector of the market though, so this sports car is going up against the Aston Martin Vantage, the updated Audi R8, the Mercedes-AMG GT and even the likes of McLaren’s entry-level 540C. That’s because the 911’s performance has been improved too.

The 911 is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six engine, mated to an eight-speed PDK automatic transmission. There’s 283kW on tap in standard Carrera models and 331kW in the Carrera S; each feels every bit as quick as the impressive performance figures suggest, helped by the excellent transmission’s rapid-fire shifts.

In fact, the latest Carrera S feels at least as punchy as the previous 911 GTS, which boasted the same power output as this Carrera S. The new car revs with ferocity and a fairly free-spinning feel at higher rpm for a turbo engine. With 530Nm of torque sustained from relatively low down at 2300rpm all the way through to 5000rpm, the mid-range punch is great too.

All-wheel drive isn’t a necessity in our opinion as traction in the two-wheel drive car is so strong – especially if you activate the new ‘wet’ mode, which improves grip on greasy roads. You wouldn’t know it was nipping away at the power, however, as even in this setting the 992 feels lightning quick.

This MMB platform, as Porsche calls it, features retuned PASM adaptive dampers that are more intelligent and now more adjustable on the move, monitoring the suspension’s state of travel up to 100 times per second and reacting to improve comfort and ride. But it’s not at the expense of handling; the agility of the car in slow corners is simply astounding. That wider front track means there simply isn’t an understeer problem on the road – the 911 turns, sticks and goes. But there’s a strong sense of communication with it.

Gone are the days where a 911’s steering moves with the road, but this electrically-assisted setup is faithful, consistent in its feel across the rack’s range of movement. It’s quicker than its predecessor, too, which translates into an alert-feeling front end. You get an idea of the grip building up and ebbing away.

The more sophisticated suspension also means that the car flows better on winding, poorly surfaced roads, but the level of control is still present. Its ability at each end of the spectrum appears to have been widened without compromising either trait. It’s really quite impressive.

Selecting the PASM adaptive dampers and a 10mm chassis drop is worth it. In the softer mode the suspension is compliant, in Sport it feels stiffer vertically with a slight degradation to comfort and a tauter edge to the body control, but it’s not wince inducing. We’d still leave the suspension in its default mode most of the time though.

In fact, that’s how we’d choose to drive the 911, as the gearbox is still quick enough to shift, the chassis more compliant and therefore comfortable and the steering weight and throttle response just about perfect for this type of car.

Engines

Compared with its predecessor, the engine has been tweaked dramatically to improve performance and efficiency. New, larger and more efficient turbochargers are teamed with repositioned intercoolers (now on top of the engine) that offer better cooling of the intake air. This, along with Piezo injectors that operate at higher pressure and feature more injection pulses of fuel during the combustion cycle, result in a power hike up to 331kW, while torque stands at 530Nm. Much effort has been focused on small detail improvements throughout the engine, but they add up to a noticeable result.

Throttle response is strong for a turbo engine. There’s still the faintest hint of lag, but only on rare occasions. In the right gear at the right revs, the new electric wastegates mean the pair of blowers spool up quickly, delivering a solid wall of torque that’ll hurl the 911 along at a not insignificant rate if you don’t feel like fully extending the motor. Efficiency is also part of the noticeable result, as we’ll see.

Performance is still the key though, and those turbos give the 911 incredible mid-range flexibility, but do dampen the noise a little. However, we knew this from its predecessor and at least, with the Sports exhaust engaged, it’s still got a characterful enough sound signature that means it emits a noise like little else. It still produces the 911’s trademark bassy, raspy bark.

The standard Carrera coupe gets to 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds, or four seconds dead with the optional Sport Chrono pack fitted; opt for the Carrera Cabriolet and its 4.4 seconds to 100km/h, or 4.2 with Sport Chrono. Top speed ranges from 288 to 292km/h, depending on bodystyle and driven wheels.

Thanks to PDK’s launch control, the 0-100km/h sprint takes just 3.7 seconds in the rear-wheel drive Carrera S. This drops by 0.2 seconds if you go for the Sport Chrono pack. Go for the 4S and those times stand at 3.6 and 3.4 seconds respectively, while top speed is 308km/h for the 2S and 306km/h for the 4S. Cabriolet models take a marginal performance hit due to their added weight.

The interior

Whereas the last three generations of 911 have focused on a vertical centre stack in the cabin, this 992 returns to its older ancestor’s roots with a more classic horizontal design.

That’s been made possible by the new 10.9-inch landscape touchscreen Porsche Communication Management infotainment system. It’s clearly been inspired by the setup in the firm’s Panamera and Cayenne models, although it’s not quite as large here.

It’s just as advanced and easy to use though. The touchscreen is nicely integrated and with most functions operated by the panel, it has allowed Porsche’s designers to de-clutter the cabin. There are fewer buttons on the transmission tunnel, and the climate controls have been simplified.

The main screen is joined by a pair of seven-inch high-definition units either side of the central rev counter – again, a 911 trademark. This is now the only analogue dial in the binnacle, even though there are digital representations of the other four on the pair of screens.

Quality has taken yet another step up too. The surfaces are cleaner, the dash lined with leather and there are plush-feeling materials on the centre console where the new shift lever is located, for example.

Along with the retro inspired design Porsche has revived some more classic interior trim combinations, with wood veneers now available. It sets the cabin off nicely, while you can of course choose cool metal finishers and all manner of different leather colours to tailor your car’s cabin to your tastes.

The interior has had a rather simple but effective rethink, and that extends to storage. The door bins have been modified slightly and will take phones and wallets, while the glovebox is a decent size. There’s enough storage for a car of this type, which helps make the 911 the usable package it is.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

There’s even more in-car technology available – this is the most advanced and connected 911 ever. Online navigation fed by swarm data for traffic services is complimented by Apple CarPlay and a host of other functions that make the 911 easier to live with. There’s even a free track telemetry app that’ll record your laps and overlay data if you fancy venturing onto the circuit to explore the 911’s performance.

The latest PCM system is easy to manipulate on the move, while the twin screens that flank the rev counter are controlled by button clusters on either side of the steering wheel. The menus are logical and you quickly get the hang of navigating around the system.

You can also use the display to alter the driving mode – there’s an updated rotary drive mode selector on the steering wheel too, allowing you to select between the new Wet mode, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual (as part of the Sport Chrono pack). Using the touchscreen you can also toggle the sports exhaust, if it’s fitted, and the dampers.

Comfort

The 911 has grown, so there’s a little more room inside than before, yet it doesn’t feel too much larger to drive thanks to engineers adding even more agility. Parking will be a little trickier maybe due to the wider body, but there are tech options to help you here.

Plus, visibility is great – a 911 trait – and with rear-axle steering giving it a relatively small turning circle, it’s still not as intimidating to manoeuvre as something like a Mercedes-AMG GT or Audi R8.

This was always the case, but now there’s more comfort on offer too. The 911 is a better GT car than ever, yet it doesn’t feel like it’s sacrificed its sports car credentials.

The driving position is great – you can get low behind the wheel without compromising your forward visibility – and there’s plenty of storage. However, the split cup-holders (one behind the gear lever and one by the passenger door) are a retrograde step from the clever solution mounted in the dash of the 991-generation car.

Combined with the respectable efficiency it’s worth mentioning that the 64-litre fuel tank will give the 911 a decent cruising range. As it’s a more accomplished GT car, this will be an important factor for many owners.

Size

In its evolution to the 992 generation, the 911 has grown. It’s now 20mm longer with an engine that sits further forward, although the wheelbase hasn’t changed. Due to the single body width being offered, the car is also chunkier with wider front and rear tracks.

Plus, for the first time in a non-GT 911, it uses different sized front and rear wheels. They are 20 inches at the front and 21-inches at the rear – the latter using huge 305-section tyres, which partly explains its great traction. The fact that the 911 rides so well on huge alloys like this is all the more impressive, too.

The 911 always felt like a compact car next to its rivals, and while it might have grown, it’s still no larger than some of the mid-engined competition. In fact, it’s much easier to drive on narrow roads than mid-engined cars like the Audi R8, while its front-engined rival from Mercedes-AMG and the Jaguar F-Type also feel like physically larger cars to drive, yet they’re more cramped inside.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Cabin space in the front is good. There are no complaints here and the ergonomics are fundamentally sound. While Porsche has changed the cabin design, the layout is basically identical. This 911 is actually 4mm taller than its predecessor, so there’s actually a little more headroom too.

The trademark small rear seats mean this is a sports car that can easily carry a young family if your children are small. Not many rivals can do that.

There’s not much room in the back for adults, while access isn’t the easiest either, but the seats are fine for short journeys around the corner. The rear berths also double as extra luggage space should you need it but the 911 is actually relatively functional in that regard too.

The boot

Due to its rear-engined layout, the 911’s luggage space is in the nose – and there’s 132 litres available. This is slightly down on its two-wheel drive predecessor, but what you need to know is that there’s enough space for two bags and a few other items, so weekends away or a grocery shop won’t be a problem.

Of course, there are always those back seats to use if your bags spill over into the cabin. The back rests can be folded down to create a flat ledge that runs to the base of the tapered rear glass, while the space underneath the folded back rests can be packed with stuff too. Or you can just leave them in place.

The boot itself is easy to load as the nose is low, it’s a regular shape and access is simple. Beyond this, there isn’t much more to tell.

Although there have been many tweaks to the engine, the basic architecture of this 3.0-litre flat-six is now powering its second generation of 911. It’s already proved reliable, so there’s no reason to think otherwise.

Much of the interior tech is related to that in Porsche’s SUVs and luxury cars. The screens are clearly powered by rapid processors, as they respond quickly and almost never crash. Expect the same in the 911.

Safety has undergone a big improvement – while the body’s steel content is down from
66 per cent to 30 per cent, helping offset the weight gain from other areas like the new gearbox, it’s just as strong.

Plus, there are more technology and assistance systems, including autonomous braking with pedestrian detection. You can add to this with lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, night vision assist, adaptive cruise that now works down to a standstill and LED matrix headlights. Standard LED lights are included in the price.

It’s unlikely that Euro NCAP will test the 911, but we’d expect that with all this new tech it would receive a good score.

Another point that’s worth mentioning is the new Wet driving mode. Microphones in the 911’s wheel arches can pick up when you’re driving on a consistently wet surface rather than just through a puddle and will recommend you activate the setting.

This alters the settings of the ESC, the traction control, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system and a number of other functions to ensure the car stays as stable as possible when on the power. It’s well integrated and the system’s action is smooth. We tried it on a wet track and it felt natural and safe.

Warranty

Porsche’s warranty package is fairly standard. There’s three years’ unlimited km cover, which is pretty good for a high performance sports car.

Servicing

Being a complex machine and a premium car, servicing won’t be cheap. Service intervals are every 15,000km though, so they aren’t super short and mean you can genuinely use the 911.

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