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First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.

First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera S
Has the eighth-generation Porsche 911 grown up a little too much? (No, no it hasnít...)

 



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First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera S

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

The 992-generation Porsche 911 was never going to be a duffer, was it? It's replacing a car that's still considered the benchmark on a number of fronts, while addressing the items that needed updating. Porsche has also, it seems, broadened the remit of the Carrera S, aiming for both more engaging dynamics and better cruising comfort and refinement. Mission impossible? Not a bit of it.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 Carrera S
Pricing: £93,110
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder boxer petrol
Transmission: eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, 2+2 coupe
CO2 emissions: 205g/km (VED Band 191-225: £1,240 in year one)
Combined economy: 31.7mpg
Top speed: 191mph
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds (3.5 seconds with options)
Power: 450hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 530Nm at 2,300-5,000rpm
Boot space: 132 litres

What's this?

You'll never mistake a Porsche 911 for anything else, even today in 2019, eight generations, more than five decades and well over a million examples sold later. This new one's model name is 992 and, though it shares its wheelbase with its predecessor, plus the same core twin-turbocharged flat-six engine, it's newer than many will realise at first glance.

Saying that, while the new 911's style is undoubtedly evolutionary, you'll not mistake it for the 991 from certain angles. Its newfound stance (all Carreras share the same wide hips, accentuated by mixed-size wheels front and rear) complements the subtly edgier front bumper, but the 992 is all-new at the back, sharing its design language with other cars in the Porsche range. There's a single-piece LED strip joining the main clusters and the automatically deploying spoiler plays a much larger part in defining the look of the car. As do the wonderful vertical air louvres above it. I'm a fan. End of.

As mentioned, the engine hidden behind the rear bodywork is a development of the 991's twin-turbo 3.0-litre unit. A gasoline particulate filter is now required to pass emissions legislation, but Porsche took the opportunity to re-examine the rest of the engine too. There are advanced new piezo injectors feeding fuel into the combustion chambers, and the inlet valve openings can be staggered for the first time (using VarioCam Plus) within each cylinder at low engine speeds and loads to help with air motion and hence combustion. But the biggest change comes about on the engine intake side. Before, the turbochargers were the same component either side, but now they're properly mirrored (as is all the pipework) and even spin in opposite directions. They're larger, too, while the wastegate valves are now electrically operated for more precise turbo boost control. The charge air coolers are larger, as well, and have been repositioned above the engine, under those beautiful air vents, to enhance their efficiency.

A seven-speed manual gearbox will be introduced in time, but for now there's a new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, replacing the old seven-speed PDK unit. That extra ratio allows a lower first gear and a higher top gear, with maximum speed achieved in sixth.

The optional Sport Chrono Package brings with it a new steering wheel located driving mode control, the dash-mounted stopwatch and PSM Sport Mode, but it also adds dynamic engine mounts, the stiffness of which are altered electronically. Well worth having.

Speaking of driving modes, the new 911 hosts the debut of the company's new wetness detection system, apparently the first of its kind in the world to use acoustic sensors in the front wheel wells to detect water splashed up. The PSM and PTM systems are then preconditioned and the system suggests to the driver it might be worth switching into the specific Wet mode. Do that and all the car's systems are optimised for safety, stability and traction. For ultimate traction and all-weather ability, buyers can opt for the 911 Carrera 4S, which comes with a redeveloped front axle.

The PASM adaptive damping system has also been revisited, with new hardware and software, meaning quicker adaptation to the conditions, but also the ability to provide softer damping than before at one end of the spectrum, along with firmer damping at the other. This has allowed the fitment of higher rate springs and anti-roll bars. Particularly keen buyers can upgrade to the PASM sport chassis, which is 10mm lower again.

Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) are optional as ever, but the standard brakes have been overhauled with larger rear discs, a shorter pedal ratio and an electric brake booster.

Prices for the new Porsche 911 Carrera S start at £93,110, rising to £98,418 for the 911 Carrera 4S. The Cabriolet variants come at a premium of £9,645.

How does it drive?

Porsche has managed to make the new 911 more civilised and easier to drive than ever. It's certainly not a car to be feared by the inexperienced driver. And yet, somehow, Porsche has also managed to make it even more engaging and fun to drive for those that really like to push a sports car to the limit. It's an incredibly polished creation.

Your interaction with the 911 starts with the perfectly sized steering wheel and milled-from-solid feel of the PDK's paddles behind. That wheel controls a more direct power steering system than before, which may still be an electrically assisted design, but feeds back to the driver's hands in a more natural manner than in the 991 model. Our test cars all had the optional rear-axle steering system, too, which makes the 911 feel particularly agile while manoeuvring and through tight corners, while enhancing stability at higher speeds.

The launch vehicles also had Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), which actively reduces body roll. We don't like the unnatural sensation this system endows on the Porsche Cayenne, but it works incredibly well in the 911, where the absence of lean is more natural and in keeping with the very high cornering speeds this car is capable of. In the dry conditions of our testing, the mechanical grip levels were off the scale and it required real provocation on the exit of sharper bends on the track to get the rear end of the car to slide with any conviction. Even when it did, the movement was clearly telegraphed and easily controlled.

This feedback from the chassis was emphasised on a wet test track where we were ostensibly trying out the new Wet mode (it works, it's very secure feeling, your granny wouldn't be nervous to drive this car in this setting in the wet). More impressive, however, was how the car took the soaking wet track in Sport Plus mode. Front-end turn-in was still exceptional, as was traction from the rear, but what stands out is how the chassis communicates with the driver, letting you know exactly how close to the limit of grip each of the four tyres is. This allows keen drivers get the most out of the car while giving everyone that takes the wheel more belief in its stability.

Through this heady mix of confidence-inspiring ability and driver engagement, the 911's flat-six engine howls its distinctive sound from behind. Sure, many will still lament the high-rev scream of naturally aspirated boxer units of yesteryear, but this is still an astounding powerplant - and it kicks hard from very low revs right out to the limiter. All cars get an active exhaust, but it's worth investing in the optional sports system to really hear this engine at work.

On the road, the brakes are never troubled, yet are operated with a perfectly modulated pedal. The transmission is quick and smooth, and you'll even forgive Porsche for fitting an odd transmission selector in the centre because it shares the gearchange paddles' machined-from-solid feel. In terms of refinement, the new 911 can be quieter when you want it to be, though rougher road surfaces inevitably lead to lots of tyre noise.

The swanky new dashboard and cabin mostly work very well, and the sense of quality has been ramped up. It's a shame that the digital screens either side of the (gorgeous) analogue rev counter can be partially obscured by the steering wheel rim, but otherwise it all works well. Oh, and the new front seats are lush to look at and sit in all day long. Giving you another excuse not to get out...

Verdict

It's not easy to pick holes in the new Porsche 911 Carrera S, as it's such a polished machine. The new interior and technology package are top notch, the enhanced civility at a cruise is welcome and if you need more performance than this in your life everyday then you need to have a word with yourself. That 'everyday' word is key, here, as this car really does it all. Just when you thought Porsche couldn't really improve on the 911 recipe, it goes out and does it again.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

2 2 2 2 2 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 25 Jan 2019









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2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.

2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Image by Porsche.








 

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