The 911 name has been around for 56 years now but unlike some models where the name is the only constant even this eight generation car shares clear links with the very first car.
For a start there are the looks, which follow a clear evolutionary line, then there’s the flat-six engine slung out at the rear and an ambition to be a pure driving machine that can be used every day.
Of course, the car’s changed over the years and this new 992 marks yet another significant chapter in the 911 story, claiming to be the fastest, most powerful and most “digital” model yet.
Launched in 2019 this all-new eighth generation is available as a Carrera or Carrera S coupe, convertible or targa with two- or four-wheel drive. In due course we’ll see more powerful and track-focused models but for now we have to make do with the “standard” versions car.
Some purists might argue that the rear-drive model is the one to have but in the monsoon conditions of our test drive the reassurance of the all-wheel-drive in our Carrera 4S coupe was welcome. In dry conditions, it lets the rear wheels do the heavy lifting but as it detects wet or slippery conditions it can redistribute more of the torque to the front to ensure it keeps grip and stays under control.
What impressed so much, even under such dreadful conditions was the stability of the Porsche. Even on soaking surfaces and with 444bhp to marshal it never felt anything other than absolutely planted on the road. The car’s active damping and traction control systems have been reworked to offer faster response and better comfort, and driving in the rain is aided by a new “wet mode” that can detect dampness on the road and alter the traction management system accordingly.
Porsche resisted installing an electronic steering system to the 911 for a long time. It was only in the last generation. That it took the leap, satisfied that it had managed to replicate the natural feel and feedback of the hydraulic system.
Having never driven one of the old hydraulic models, I can’t comment on how it compares but there is a natural weight and feedback here that is incredibly rare in the modern world of electronic assistance and you can guide the 911 along with complete confidence in the connection between you and the car. For the 992 the steering has been made even more direct and there’s the option of four-wheel-steering for even greater responsiveness.
If handling is one key ingredient of the 911 the engine is another. For the 992 the turbocharged flat six has been updated. Bigger turbos, new cooling and new injectors mean there’s more power and torque and it’s available across a wider rev range. For the Carrera 4S there’s now 444bhp and 391lb/ft. It’s delivered in a relentless but virtually linear fashion, sending the car surging to 60mph in just 3.4 seconds accompanied by a unique bassy roar from over your shoulder.
While the exterior style carries out the 50+ years of evolution, not revolution, there are enough new elements to the 992 to mark it out as an altogether different car from the 991. For a start it’s wider, with all models getting the wider rear track and bodywork previous kept for the four-wheel-drive cars. It’s also longer, with a redesigned bonnet and the headlights are more smoothly integrated into the wings while a redesigned retractable spoiler, full-width rear light bar and pop-out door handles give the car a more streamlined look. Evolution or not, it’s a long way from the pure lines of the original 60s model but a cleaner, sleeker proposition than the 991.
Inside, it’s all about the 911 going digital, with a 10.9-inch touchscreen housing the internet-connected PCM media/nav system. Two more seven-inch digital instrument displays sit in front of the driver but play second fiddle to a massive analogue rev counter that honours past design and sits front and centre in the driver’s eyeline. It’s not a flashy, tech-for-tech’s-sake cabin. There are luxury touches around the cabin and the comfort and quality is unquestionable but it all feels designed to place the emphasis on the driver and the driving.
The word icon gets bandied about a lot but the 911 truly deserves that title. Say Porsche and it’s the first car anyone thinks of and over the last 56 years it has evolved but stuck true to its origins. The 992 is the latest and most high tech one yet but for all its changes, at heart, it is a pure, thrilling driving machine.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
Price: From £99,925; Engine: 3.0-litre, flat-six, twin-turbo, petrol; Power: 444bhp; Torque: 391lb/ft; Transmission: Eight-speed dual clutch automatic; Top speed: 190mph; 0-62mph: 3.4 seconds; Economy: 25.4-27.7mpg; CO2 emissions: 231-253g/km