Indelible

Facing some of the most capable premium sportscar competition it its 56-year history, Porsche’s eighth-generation 911 can’t afford to sit still. Steve Vermeulen gets behind the wheel of the latest Carrera 2S and finds it has no intention of doing so.

Timeless. Iconic. The yardstick. How does one write about a new 911 without rehashing past commentary?

Over its 56-year lifespan, the 911 has become known as all of the above. Its position as the premium sportscar that all others must be judged against is not conjecture in the industry, it’s lore.

Straight out of the gate the aesthetics are exactly what you would expect,
the silhouette an homage for past iterations but with numerous modernised
nuances you keep picking up each time you look at it. 

The question you really must ask of this eighth generation 911 is whether it has evolved suitably to maintain its status as the category archetype? And that’s becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer. Sportscar buyers today are in the enviable position of being able to stumble upon compelling 911 competitors from the likes of Audi (R8) Aston Martin (Vantage) and Jaguar (F-type SVR). So, evolution for this 911 – or 992 model code for the Porscheophiles out there – is particularly critical. The gateway to the range, and the first of the latest generation 911 available in New Zealand, is the Carrera 2S.

Perhaps the most obvious changes are the squarer front chin, the wider rear quarters now featured on
two-wheel drive models (previously only 4S models boasted the wider body) and that modernised rear end and horizontal taillight strip which are eye-wateringly good to look at from every angle.

Inside is an even more obvious representation of how Porsche have evolved the 911’s styling amidst its newest competitors. Gone is the large double-din style infotainment centre
stack that’s been a mainstay of Porsche interiors for a while. Along with that, Porsche has ditched the conventional automatic transmission lever too. Like the exterior, the dash now features a prominent horizontal edge spanning the whole width. This form factor is certainly reminiscent of 70’s era 911s and, embossed with contemporary patterning and accented with knurled switchgear and exacting fit and finish, it has transformed the in-car experience.

Aesthetically it’s much cleaner, but functionality is also significantly enhanced with a 10.9” high-resolution touch screen. It’s here the driver can access the intuitive and responsive
Porsche Communication Management system, with permanent connectivity, online navigation systems and phone integration with voice control. The instrument cluster has received 2019 techy upgrades too. The standard analogue tachometer remains front and centre as every 911 before it, but it is now flanked by two more high-res, full-colour digital screens allowing the driver to scroll through a secondary navigation display, trip computer readouts and – if fitted with the $5290 Sports Chrono package – a lap timer and G-force indicator for track use. It’s very much a driver-orientated interior and despite all the new-fangled technology, Porsche has done well not to bloat the 911 with elements that over complicate things.

It’s all very simple to navigate on the road without distraction. That’s good news, because on West Auckland’s serpentine coastal roads, there are, quite simply, better things to appropriate your attention with the Carrera S when behind the wheel. The growly 3.0-litre flat six bi-turbo powerplant is a carryover but, with larger turbos, improved breathing and injectors, there’s a 22kW power increase and 30Nm torque increase taking the engine to 331kW and 530Nm respectively. This is mated to a standard 8-speed PDK transmission (manual gearboxes remain as an option on the 992). With the Sports Chrono package you can switch between Normal, Sport, Sport Plus drive modes from a simple dial on the steering wheel; the latter delivering addictive exhaust crackles and a crispness to the throttle response.

The signature 911 rear engine layout and low centre of gravity rewards with balance, weight transfer, steering weight and turn-in precision that just can't be replicated.

New also is the Porsche WET mode supporting the driver for optimised wet driving performance. In the centre of the drive mode dial you can activate Sport Plus mode for a 20 second
stint with a push button at the tip of your thumb. Initially I thought this might prove a little gimmicky, but I found it a great ‘press to pass’ function. On the road mere mortal drivers, like me, may not immediately identify a paradigm shift in driving dynamics, but that speaks to the pedigree of the 911 rather than any shortcomings with the latest version.

Around bends, the signature 911 rear engine layout and low centre of gravity rewards with balance, weight transfer, steering weight and turn-in precision that just can’t be replicated. There’s no shortage of mechanical grip on offer either from the standard 245/35 20-inch front boots and huge 305/30 21-inch rears.

It’s a car that envelops you as a driver, puts you immediately at ease and with the attractive new interior and user-friendly features it’s even more enjoyable to spend time in, whether you’re on twisty coast roads or in the thick of an urban motorway grind. Porsche has successfully nudged the goalposts out with the new 911, retaining all the driving pleasure the model is known for but modernising the experience with cleaner linage and a vastly improved interior. What’s more, the manufacturer has also added technology to keep it at the forefront in an increasingly competitive segment.

Timeless? Sure. Iconic? Absolutely. Yardstick?
That’s a yes from me too.

 

Photos by: Simeon Patience 

Words by: Steve Vermeulen 

It feels more sophisticated, but it also remains delightfully engaging and lithe to drive. Zero to 100km/h can be measured in just 3.5 seconds with the must-have Sports Chrono package; a wave of forced induction torque livening up the rear end easily from stand still.

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