Road Tests

First Drive: Tradition and Evolution in Porsche 992 Carrera

A new 992 Carrera 

And no magnifying glass needed for the Porsche 992 Carrera . Even though there are always those archetypal certainties – engine pushed out to the back with the two doors leading to a 2+2 cabin and a view over the brim of the steering wheel which sculpts your attention to just above the front wheels –  the new Carrera 911, spoken as 992 by Porsche anoraks, is tastefully engineered to make it appear visibly fresh and simultaneously iconic.  A modern classic.

New items like disappearing door handles?

Porsche’s designers aren’t ready to shave the wing mirrors in lieu of cameras but they are smoothing out the bodywork where they can with forensic finesse. About time. Ferrari and McLaren minimalised their flanks a long time ago and electronically powered systems will probably soon enable smartphone unlocking. New is the lightbar. Old is the return of front lights that no longer slope down to the bumper as well as a bolder rear spoiler integrated into the glass panel. The 992 Carrera looks crisp, riffing on the usual 911 chords with the body ironed tautly before swelling around the wider tracks and bigger wheels.

My 991.2 has the same engine

But your 991.2 won’t pass the new WLTP emissions tests that this one will. Even if it could, the predecessor is weaker by 22kW (331 total output total) and 50Nm. Neighbouring the cleaner, more powerful 3.0-litre flat six is the 8-speed gearbox, delegating overdrive to the last two ratios for efficiency but overall lacking a bit of the snap that the 7-speed once shot through. A 7-speed manual will have the same price, even though it’s a significantly cheaper thing to package. The price of purity.

So it’s fast?

Porsche 992 Carrera and 992 Carrera S are the comfy, around-the-clock base models and the first to arrive in South Africa. Remember that when you read the next sentence. 0-100kph telegraphed in 3.5 seconds, top speed of 305kph. And Porsche has a reputation for delivering accurate real-world testing better than anyone.

How does it drive?

We’ve sated our bellies on the technical spec of 992 Carrera before – in fact this is my second bite at the Carrera 992 in just one month. Today is different because I’m out on road and track with an impromptu wet handling parkour to start us off. With the new wet mode rejigging the stability control, aero as well as torque distribution the combination ultimately convinces me that this 331kW rear-wheel drive sportscar can be disarmed into something as lethal in attack as Ajax Cape Town and virtually uncrashable. But this safety aid with its preemptive warning has a slightly disparaging tone about a driver’s common sense -wouldn’t a more inconspicuous form of traction control suffice while letting us keep our honour.

What you need on the roads around Valencia is a compact car, a nose lift function, good visibility, navigation and active cruise control for the highways. The Porsche 992 Carrera is armed with all these things so it effortlessly traverses the scope of terrain ahead of it. Not too dissimilar to a 991’s pliant ride but because of the nicer cabin it feels a lot more special as it howls down the road. The perfection of a new 911 is that it never responds with too little or too much exertion. So homogenised that nothing is overbearing or overshadows another element. A car that’s faithfully underneath you, reconciling all the information without all the post production that comes with being rendered by pre-installed, schmoozing algorithms.  It’s not a car that relies on a nine-stage traction control system to find the right level of shock and awe, we’re looking at you AMG GT R.

The GT Porsches are the intimidating specialists, but 992 Carrera and 992 Carrera S are as fluent and forgiving as a 718 GTS.

There’s astonishing grip, even when the dial turns to illuminate Sport and Sport Plus that the 4S versions -now in the same muscular bodystyle as the S – doesn’t immediately announce itself as the king of traction. So I’d give that a miss for our climate and lug the weight minus a pair of driveshafts.

Still has the centre analogue rev counter

That and the position of the key start are famous harbingers to the 911. Now Porsche must deal with the quandary of iconic retention amid transformative changes that elevate it to a new realm. Not only does the cabin mimic Cayenne, but arguably the cabin is this way because of Cayenne’s success and the profits it has reaped for Porsche. The 992 Carrera owes a lot to Cayenne, which is why other sportscar brands are trying to follow the formula. Customisable digital displays, a new 10-inch touchscreen, a less cluttered layout interspersed with a tile of fixed buttons, including ESC off – which you’d have no trouble getting a finger to during one of Valencia’s fast climbing curves.

Materials for one, and the perfect click feedback just don’t condone the usual incongruous foibles of a single-faceted sportscar and with the connected services on board or the autonomous features, the new 911 is as neoteric as you’re likely to find in cars purporting to be the bastions of luxury. A cossetting cabin which makes going very quickly very easy, it serves to only blast open the chasm between itself and sportscar makers.

Verdict

The 992 Carrera is in immortal health, once again ready for benchmark testing while planting the seeds in fertile soil for what will grow and branch off as GTS and Turbo. Cars of this nature are usually polarised by idiosyncrasies or compromises but Porsche has taken the burden of building the best sportscar up another level. ANDREW LEOPOLD 

  • R1 708 000 for the Carrera S
  • R1 797 000 for the Carrera 4S.

 

 

 

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