Evolution rather than revolution has been the name of the game with the eighth-generation 2019 Porsche 911.
Yes, the 992 is an all-new car, but think of it more in terms of the shift from 996 to 997, rather than the huge leap that occurred between 997 and 991 or even the marked change that 991.2 represented with the switch to turbocharged engines.
But don’t let the familiar looks and specification fool you, for an enormous amount of engineering has gone into the 992, with virtually no part of the car left untouched.
The bodyshell is longer and much wider, yet a large increase in the amount of aluminium and high-strength steel makes it both lighter and five per cent more torsionally rigid.
All 911s now use the widebody shell previously reserved for all-wheel drive models resulting in an extra 44mm in the rear hips. This is balanced by an extra 45mm up front to give the 992 a seriously fat stance on the road.
On tight, twisty roads you notice the extra girth but not the extra heft. Weight has increased by 55kg but the wider footprint shrugs off the added mass and gives the 992 unbelievable purchase on the road.
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It still feels like a 911. That unique weight distribution requires a certain driving style to extract its best, but the 46mm-wider front track results in almost GT2 RS levels of front bite without sacrificing any of the inherent traction advantage provided by the rear-engined layout.
The steering is quicker, laser accurate and feels to provide a little more communication than the 991.2. Active anti-roll bars and rear-wheel steering are available but even without these gizmos this new 911 carves corners like they’re Christmas turkeys.
Bilstein’s latest-generation dampers provide a much wider operating range and set to soft give the 992 a beautiful pliancy in the way it handles. Selecting Sport removes a lot of this movement but on the road it’s a great sensation to feel the weight move around, not to mention the damper’s added softness gives the 911 a remarkable ride quality given the size of the rims (20-inch front; 21-inch rear).
The 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six carries over, but everything bar the crankcase has been heavily revised with larger turbochargers, a new intake system, repositioned engine mounts and intercoolers, electronically controlled wastegates and piezo injectors.
The result is 331kW at 6500rpm and 530Nm from 2300-5000rpm, which aren’t spectacular numbers in these crazy times we live in but 0-100km/h in 3.5sec certainly is. This is an outrageously fast car.
Our track sessions were led by 991.2 GT3s which could only just outrun the 992s, but on the road the newer car would almost certainly be quicker courtesy of its broad torque band. Best of all, Porsche has discovered the trick to making its turbo engines sound good, with roars and whistles, pops and crackles emitted for the engine bay.
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The PDK transmission now houses eight gears (a key contributor to that weight gain) and is as telepathic as ever, while the brakes are virtually unkillable, only beginning to groan after an hour of almost constant abuse on track.
To be honest, though, a lot of this praise also applies to the 991.2 and the improvement in the driving experience is not so pronounced that an upgrade should be automatic, those most owners probably will anyway.
Where the 992 takes big strides forward is the interior. The traditional central analogue tachometer is now flanked by two digital screens that can display all manner of infotainment and vehicle information, while the central touchscreen is a whopping 10.9 inches across.
There are some weird touches. A quintet of switches sit below the infotainment screen, which control functions that would be housed on the centre console in the Panamera or Cayenne. In the 911, these panels are blank, making it look like you’ve neglected to tick a bunch of option boxes.
The new gear lever is also a retrograde step, as is the new steering-wheel mounted Drive Mode selector – the old one looked cooler. Speaking of, the new Wet Mode sounds dull but is remarkable in the speed with which it allows you to drive in soaking conditions with minimal risk.
On the face of it, Porsche has done what it needs to in giving the 911 a lift in the areas it most needed it (interior, connectivity, refinement) while polishing its performance capabilities and providing all-important future-proofing – the new eight-speed PDK is hybrid-ready and the new platform has been designed with cubbies for batteries in mind.
It’s difficult not to conclude that Porsche has kept its powder dry until the regulatory environment becomes clearer and it’s apparent just how ‘hybrid’ the 911 needs to become.
Nonetheless, it’s delivered an absolutely breathtaking sports car, which delivers a stunning driving experience yet greater comfort and refinement than ever before.
Vive la evolution.
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2019 PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S SPECS
Engine: 2981cc flat-6cyl, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo
Power: 331kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 530Nm @ 2300-5000rpm
0-100km/h: 3.5sec (claimed)
Likes: Outstanding performance; benchmark dynamics; improved comfort
Dislikes: Expensive; weight gain; interior quirks
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars