For a Porsche enthusiast, there are few motoring calendar highlights more significant than the launch of a new 911. Following months if not years of anticipation and speculation, spy-shots of test mules that reveal no more than the possible positioning of the rear exhausts, and endless rendered images of potential design features, the covers have finally come off the eighth generation of one of the world’s most important sports cars.
This is particularly strange when one considers that there probably isn’t a car to shock the world less than a new 911, so similar is each generation of this iconic model to its predecessor. Yet, the spell of the 911 is such that when cast, even the tiniest details generate a disproportionate level of excitement, and are to be logged, analysed to within an inch of their lives, and consigned to eternal memory for future reference.
And so I find myself positively gorging on every detail of the new Porsche 911’s design the moment it is unveiled, on one-hand astounded that the designers have yet again managed to finely hone, refresh and modernise the 911’s beautiful shape under the strict parameters set by the 911 cognoscenti’s expectation of design evolution rather than revolution, and on the other searching for that significant design feature which distinguishes the latest generation of the 911 from its forbears. So scrupulous is this analysis that even the shape of the pollen filter will qualify as notable.
Yet it wasn’t always thus. Until the launch of the outgoing 991 generation of the 911 in 2012 (technically the 991.1 range), I was baffled by the myriad of seemingly identical models in the 911 line-up. Narrow models, wide models, even wider models still, two exhausts, four exhausts, central exhausts, turbocharged and naturally aspirated variants, coupes, cabriolets and Targas - it really is quite intimidating to those who have never dissected the Porsche 911 range, let alone driven one, something which changes your perception entirely.
The Porsche 911 driving experience really is something to savour, so perfect is the driving position, the weighting of the controls, the feedback through the steering wheel, the metallic sound of that flat-six engine behind you.
Now is the perfect opportunity to begin one’s 911 education, at the very outset of the launch of an entirely new generation of the 911 range, before multiple models are added to the Carrera S and 4S launch cars over time.
The reward thankfully more than justifies the effort involved. Not only is an appreciation of a diverse and precision-cut range of cars, each with an idiosyncratic character and purpose obtained, but the same model hierarchy also applies to all previous generations of the 911, and to the other models in the Porsche range such as the Macan, Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne and Panamera. The difference between a 991.1 911 Carrera GT2RS and a 992.1 911 Carrera GT3 will soon seem as vast in your mind as that between chalk and cheese.
And so to the new 911, generation codename 992, the birth of an entirely new range of cars which, for the moment at least, simply consists of the two-wheel drive Carrera S, and its four-wheel drive counterpart, the Carrera 4S.
While to the untrained eye, the new car will look fresh but familiar, to the 911 fan, the latest generation is a feast of interesting details, from the more purposeful stance afforded by the wider and more muscular front wheel arches, and the fact that all models now feature the wide rear haunches of the 4S four-wheel drive variant, to the beautiful full-width rear lenses, the new badging, unique vertical central brake light, flush-fit pop-out door handles and positively massive wheels, 20” up front, 21” at the rear.
There are details too to please 911 die-hards, particularly the 993 generation style square-cut bonnet and the elliptical LED headlights, which only momentarily veered into unchartered territory shape-wise with the 996 generation of the car in the late nineties.
The new 911’s shape is more muscular than that of its predecessor being 45mm wider, accentuated by those more bulbous wheel arches, chopped vertical along the outer rim to sharpen the 911’s elegant shape, adding a hint of aggression. So too does the quad-pipe exhaust, the tailpipes mounted closer together than those of the outgoing 991 model.
Porsche has also launched an excellent new 911 online configurator, which can be used to tweak even the most minor details of one’s prospective purchase/dream for hours on end.
However, it is arguably inside the 911’s focused, teutonic and well-built cabin that the new 992 generation has evolved most significantly.
While the cabin’s overall architecture consisting of horizontal, clean lines, recessed sculpting, a low and focused driving position and high transmission tunnel will be familiar, the lack of the previous generation’s cluster of centre console buttons in favour of a minimalistic and beautifully crisp 10.9” touchscreen brings the 911’s in-board technology and infotainment up to date.
While the changes to the 911’s traditional five-dial display beneath the instrument binnacle might raise a purist’s eyebrow initially, fears that the central analogue rev-counter flanked by screens as opposed to a pair of dials either side will soon abate, as the displays illuminate to reveal the traditional five-gauge layout. Leaving the most important dial in analogue form while converting the others to virtual displays is not only a nice touch and nod to the 911’s heritage, but also nicely complements the central dash-mounted 10.9" touchscreen.
The Porsche 911 has to be one of the most customisable cars on the planet, with details down to the material of the key-pouch being on the options list. I look forward to seeing the new interior in alcantara, carbon-fibre and red contrasting stitching GTS-spec at some point in the future.
Unsurprisingly, the new 911 boasts an increased power output over its predecessor. In Carrera S form, the 911’s turbocharged flat-six engine produces 443bhp, 23bhp more than the outgoing car, propelling the 992 to the 62 mph milestone in just 3.5 seconds. A hybrid model is also potentially on the cards at some point. Both the Carrera and Carrera S models will be available with a choice of either a 7-speed manual or 8-speed PDK paddle-shift transmission.
The new 911 is also fitted with many new driving features, such as a wet mode which adapts the car’s set-up in such conditions, optional night-vision, adaptive cruise control, and camera-based warning and brake assist.
The new 992 range marks the eighth generation of the 911 sports car, representing a further evolution of every aspect of this iconic car’s design, technology and performance. Crucially, it would also appear that Porsche haven’t done anything in designing the 992 to upset the 911 purist, a feat arguably as challenging as designing the car itself!