There are few really iconic cars amongst the hundreds of new vehicles on sale today. There are even fewer that have remained in continuous production for more than 50 years, albeit with constant updates.
The Porsche 911 is one such icon, but can the latest iteration, the 992, live up to its exalted status?
What is it?
The latest 911 is a thorough development of the previous 991. It is slightly larger, gaining 20mm in length and 44mm in width. This body is used on both rear-wheel drive (Carrera S) versions and the four-wheel drive Carrera 4S. The chassis and body construction uses more aluminium and so the car is now 20kg lighter with a 36:64 front to rear distribution.
The engine is the same twin-turbo 3.0 litre flat-six as used in the later 991 models but now has bigger turbochargers, better fuel delivery and an overhauled charge air cooling system. In this S model, it produces 444bhp at 6500 rpm and 530Nm of torque across a wider rev-band. There will be a base Carrera model in due course with slightly less power. As standard is a new eight-speed PDK gearbox although Porsche is promising the availability of a manual box in the future.
The most obvious change for new owners will be the modernised interior. Apart from the driver-centered analogue tachometer, all the other instrumentation is now digital. The latest generation PCM touchscreen infotainment system is accessed via the large and clear 10.9 inch central screen. There are a few metal toggle switches above the screen which look and feel of high quality.
The leather interior also gives the new 911 more of an up-market luxury feel particularly as it has neat stitching that extends to the door trims.
The starting list price of the Carrera S is £93,110 but will easily rise past the £100k barrier with a few choice options. The four-wheel drive Carrera 4S costs an extra £5,300 and the S Cabriolet an extra £9,600. Competitors include the £128,295 Audi R8, the £122,00 Aston Martin Vantage and the £137,180 McClaren 540C
As you approach the new 911 it does look wider at the front than previous models but the extra length gives it a wonderful sleekness that looks, somehow, more sophisticated. It looks great in lighter colours; particularly the metallic white finish of my Carrera S test car.
The latest model is easily identifiable from the rear thanks to horizontal lightbar at the rear. As I settled into the driving seat, it was great to be reminded that the 911 has an almost perfect driving position and feels like a low-slung sports car should.
The up-to-date interior is a bit of a revelation. Although the initial impression is that this proper sports car should have very analogue controls, the digital setup is very smart and works really well. High quality materials used across the cabin make this new 911 feel like a real luxury car, justifying its lofty price.
As ever, luggage capacity is better than you think; the spacious nose compartment is complemented by a really useful space behind the front seats. The folding rear seats may be small, but no rival can boast the ability to carry two small children or an occasional adult as rear passengers.
How does it drive?
A huge part of the 911’s iconic status has been determined by the very special and rewarding driving experience it has always delivered. So how does it perform? Well, like all good sports cars, it makes you feel good just sitting in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel is a perfect size and all the dials, analogue and digital, are perfectly placed. The central PDK selector falls directly to hand and works with real solid definition.
Start up is surprisingly subdued in the cabin but this is more a reflection of the improved noise suppression than anything else. At least you won’t wake up the neighbours. My test car had the optional switchable sports exhaust, which is a must if you like to hear that wonderful flat-six when you are on the move.
Initial driving at low speeds is really easy and helped by excellent all round visibility and a compliant ride. The gearbox changes are almost imperceptible in automatic mode and you make progress as you would in any premium sporty saloon.
Once you clear the urban roads and are faced with some decent A and B roads, the 911 changes character. And what a character it becomes! Select Sport or Sport + on the steering wheel selector and the chassis tightens, the gearbox allows higher rev changes, and the steering comes alive.
The claimed 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds becomes entirely believable and you can cover cross-country routes at a pace that is super-swift but always feels safe and controlled. Corners are confidently dispatched with aplomb and the ride actually improves with speed.
As you go faster, the 911 shrinks around you. Any concerns about its increased dimensions disappear and you really feel at one with this superb driving machine. Switching to manual mode on the PDK selector gives you extra control that is closer to a manual gearbox than anything else I have driven, but you will need a track to explore the car’s real dynamic limits. Most importantly, though – can you have fun with the new 911 on normal roads? The answer is a resounding yes!
Verdict: Every time that Porsche updates the 911, there is a worry that the recipe will be spoiled. This eighth and latest iteration, the 992, is a superb high quality sports car. It has advanced several aspects of the car to bring it right up to date. It continues to be capable of being used as a daily driver, but is still able to serve up thrills in abundance on demand. It seems that Porsche has done it again. The 911’s iconic status is safe.
Porsche 911 Carrera S
Body: 2+2 coupe
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin turbo
Torque: 530 Nm
Top Speed: 191 mph
Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 3.5 seconds
Economy: 31.7 mpg combined cycle
CO2 emissions: 205g/km
On the road price: from £ 93,110
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