With age, the human backside often becomes broader. But the wider rear of the 56-year-old Porsche 911 is a sign of greater vitality and vigour, not less. The new Type 992 is faster than the 991 it replaces, and with the extra ferocity comes greater finesse.
The all-new, aluminium-intense body of the 992 uses the same wheelbase as the 991. The structure is a little lighter, despite increases in overall width and length.
The design of the new-generation 911 puts more visual emphasis than ever on its rear haunches, an effect boosted by Porsche’s decision to fit rear wheels with an extra inch of diameter compared to the fronts across the range. The better to balance levels of front- and rear-end grip, say company chassis experts.
There’s very little wrong with the design and presentation of the 911’s carefully crafted 2+2 interior, which features a perfectly proportioned driving position and a beautifully integrated infotainment touchscreen.
Porsche has upgraded the 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six for the 992, as it was first introduced in the 991.2 back in 2015. Switching from identical turbos for each set of three cylinders to a pair of mirror-image turbos enabled a redesign of inlet- and exhaust-system plumbing. Power and torque maximums for both plain 911 Carrera and more powerful Carrera S models jump to new highs as a result. Even more important is the arrival of an eight-speed dual-clutch in place of the seven-speeder in the previous 911.
There is a hybrid in the new 911’s future, but it’s still some way off. Right now, the 992 range consists of eight models; Coupe and Cabriolet in Carrera and high-output S specifications, in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive forms. Prices begin at $229,500 for the Carrera Coupe and extend to $302,200 for the Carrera 4S Cabriolet. For COTY, we chose a $264,600 Carrera S Coupe.
There are two ways to judge the value of the 911. One is to compare it with other exotics (mostly Italian and inevitably much more costly), and declare it a near bargain; the alternative method is to compare the Porsche with other brilliantly rewarding sports cars (some of them also made in Zuffenhausen) that cost much less, and conclude that the law of diminishing returns makes the 911 a mediocre choice at best. There were supporters of both viewpoints.
What no-one argued about was the Porsche’s joyous brilliance while its wheels were turning. The 992 is irresistibly seductive, combining serious speed with stellar handling. This prowess was partly the product of sublimely precise steering. “Butter smooth,” was the apt description of judge Andy Enright.
Equally impressive were the Porsche’s brakes, which delivered sub-36m stops from 100km/h. Acceleration? In our 0-100km/h tests, the Carrera S beat the factory claim of 3.5 seconds by a tenth.
Dynamically, the new Porsche 911 delivers exactly what its reputation, design and technology promise: a truly special driving experience. Just as importantly, the suspension comfort of the Porsche is outstanding for something with so much cornering, braking and acceleration to offer.
“Apart from the road noise, this thing is pretty much perfect,” was the summary of editor Inwood. It was a thought echoed in the notes of other COTY judges.
As for efficiency, improvements to the 992’s drivetrain contribute to marginal reductions in fuel consumption compared to the 991.2 it replaces; 0.5-1.0L/100km. But the 13.0-plus L/100km consumption recorded during the public road phase of COTY testing is high for a car which has only two genuinely useful seats.
What also pricked the judges’ attention was the 911’s lack of safety and driver-assistance equipment now becoming commonplace in much cheaper mainstream models. Examples? The AEB system doesn’t work in reverse; lane-departure warning alerts the driver but doesn’t steer to keep the vehicle in its lane; there’s no cross-traffic alert, front or rear.
The new 911 is almost pitch perfect when singing its song of seduction, but against COTY’s broad-based criteria, this wide-rumped Porsche’s value, efficiency and safety hit a few dud notes.
THE JUDGES’ SCORECARD
PORSCHE 992 911 SPECS
Type: 2-door coupe/cabrio, 2 + 2 seats
Boot capacity: 132L
Weight: 1505 – 1635kg
Layout: Rear-engine (north-south), RWD/AWD
Engines: 2981cc flat 6cyl, twin-turbo petrol (283kW/450Nm); 2981cc flat 6cyl, twin-turbo petrol (331kW/530Nm)
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch
Tyres: 235/40R19 – 305/30R21
ADR81 fuel consumption: 9.4 – 9.6L/100km
CO2 emissions: 232 – 248g/km
Crash rating: Not yet rated
Prices: $229,500 – $302,200