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Wider, more powerful eighth-generation 911 is still eminently fast, and capable at all speeds

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The much-celebrated, world-renowned Porsche 911, now 56 years and eight full model generations old, remains a shining beacon to the rest of the car business.

It offers a salutary lesson to other car makers: manage your icon carefully and preserve what’s unique and distinctive about it, while updating what’s old and flawed; listen to what people love about it; and keep it relevant, modern and competitive without making it any less special. By sticking to these principles, you can make enduringly profitable success out of sports car making. What’s more, you can do it in a way unlike anyone else in the industry.

Rear spoiler remains retracted at up to 56mph, at which point it extends to its middle position, and fully deploys above 93mph

It may not always have been the case, but this car remains great business for Porsche. It’s often said that Stuttgart’s SUVs make the money that it can, in turn, invest in its world-class driver’s cars – but that does a gross injustice to the cash-generating capacities of the 911.

The Porsche Macan and Porsche Cayenne have turned Porsche into a 250,000-unit car maker, it’s true. But since the mid-1990s, when the firm introduced the first Boxster and rationalised its sports car platforms, the 911 has been in a league of its own as a business proposition among sports cars of its price. And only cars as successful as that get to flourish for as long as this one has.

As you may have already read, this latest-generation 911 counts as more of a revision than a thorough technical reboot. The ‘992’ sticks with updated versions of the turbocharged flat-six engines of the facelifted ‘991’, has become very slightly larger and stiffer in its underbody construction and, unlike any 911 before it, has all-aluminium bodywork. There is also new suspension tuning and a new gearbox, while an all-new interior brings the 911 right up to date.

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Price £93,110 Power 444bhp Torque 391lb ft 0-60mph 3.4sec 30-70mph in fourth 5.3sec Fuel economy 23.1mpg CO2 emissions 205g/km 70-0mph 39.8m

The Porsche 911 range

The Porsche 911 line-up is in a strange, transient place at the moment. Carrera S and 4S versions of the new ‘992’ are now on sale, in both coupé and convertible bodystyles, alongside GTS, GT3 RS and Speedster versions of the ‘991’.

The '992' range can be depended on to expand to include Turbo and Turbo S, track-ready GT derivatives and Targas in due course too, as well as less powerful engine tunes and even more powerful GTS trim levels.

Manual gearboxes will also be added later, according to Porsche – and eventually, in all likelihood, run-out versions like the Carrera T and the epoch-making GT2 RS.


Porsche 911 Carrera S 2019 road test review - hero side

It should be no great shock to find that this 992 generation of Porsche 911 is a slightly larger car than the Porsche  it replaces – because legendary sports cars are subject to the same influences that have been making most replacement models bigger than what went before for decades.

How big is the new Porsche 911?

It’s now 20mm longer, 44mm wider and 41mm taller than the Carrera S we road tested back in 2016, since Porsche has effectively deleted the ‘narrow body’ of the old rear-driven Porsche 911 Carrera. Generational growth spurts have been applied to this car, over the years, in an attempt to refine its handling on the limit and to tame the potential pendulum effect associated with a rear-engined layout and a short wheelbase. Next to the 1963 original, however, the 992 is some 229mm longer and 152mm wider. It’s roomier and safer, too, of course. The price of progress, you might say.

Optional sports exhaust system (£1844) swaps the regular quad-pipe arrangement out for two largerdiameter oval-shaped pipes. These seem to sit more comfortably within the 992’s rear bumper.

What engines does the Porsche 911 have?

Continuing the trend set by the facelifted 991, the 992’s 3.0-litre flat-six motor is supplemented by a pair of turbochargers. While it displaces the same 2981cc as before, those turbochargers are larger and now feature electronically controlled wastegate valves; the charge air cooling system has been completely overhauled; and new piezo-controlled injectors optimise fuel distribution within the combustion chambers. A gasoline particulate filter has also been installed.

With these modifications, the 3.0-litre motor now develops 444bhp at 6500rpm and 391lb ft at 2300- 5000rpm (a marginally narrower, meaner spread than in the Porsche 991 Carrera GTS, but not by much). This is all directed to the rear wheels of our Carrera S via a new eight-speed PDK gearbox, while the 4S distributes it to all four corners as required. A space in the casing of the new transmission, we’re told, has been left to accommodate the electric motor that will feature on forthcoming hybrid models. A stickshifter manual is coming later.

Even greater amounts of aluminium have been used in the car’s construction, leading to a claimed weight saving of 20kg over the previous PDK-equipped Carrera S. On MIRA’s test scales, the 992 weighed in at 1525kg, with weight split 36:64 front to rear.

Suspension is by way of MacPherson struts up front, with a multi-link arrangement at the rear. Porsche’s Active Suspension Management dampers have been redesigned for a more supple ride and more responsive handling, although the sport set-up specified on our test car saw its ride height drop by 10mm.

Optional rear-axle steering (which was introduced with the 991) was also specified on our test car, as was a sport exhaust, Sport Chrono Package and front axle lift system.


Porsche 911 Carrera S 2019 road test review - cabin

It would be both contentious and untrue to record that Porsche has turned the 911 into a luxury car with this latest generational revision. The 992 Carrera S’s cabin is one that still feels appealingly functional, and it’s equipped only with systems that make it a better sports car and an easier and more pleasant one to use and to interact with. Yet it will still feel like a step into a much richer, more stylish and more advanced world for anyone coming from an older 911.

The car’s instrumentation is now almost entirely digital, with the exception being the central analogue tacho dial – without which a Porsche simply wouldn’t feel at all familiar. On either side of that are crisp-looking digital screens whose content you can define yourself – so if you want navigation mapping near your eyeline instead of a trip computer display, you can have it.

Whatever your feelings about cupholders in sports cars, I think it’s a shame to see the end of the fold-out, fascia-mounted ones introduced on the ‘997’. The 992’s passenger-side one is much less elegant

The smaller meters for fuel level and water temperature remain in their familiar location on the outward extremes of the binnacle, presented as if they were analogue dials. Those who like to keep tabs on oil pressure and temperature, however, will notice that the dials for those have been replaced by an analogue-style clock – and so you now have to probe into one of the primary display’s modes to find that information.

The 992 Carrera S gets a new-generation PCM touchscreen infotainment system measuring a generous-looking 10.9in from corner to corner, which looks like an imposing presence in the car at first. But when you realise that it centralises many of the controls that had to be accessed by the instrument cluster on the 991 – and once you spend a bit of time getting used to the navigating logic – you quickly realise that the set-up makes plenty of functions easier to perform.

The system is graphically appealing, and displays mapping in useful detail and at great clarity and scale, making it very easy to follow – and you can scroll that mapping using pinch or fingertip rotation gestures. There’s a user-configurable home screen, as has become fashionable with these things, which allows you to group your most commonly accessed menus as ‘tiles’.

Meanwhile, a line of shortcut keys just inset into the driver’s side of the screen means you’re never more than one fingertip stretch from the menu you need in any case. Porsche’s voice control system comes as standard, and works dependably well.

The car’s driving position achieves that clever trick of feeling low when you’re in, but not so low when you’re getting in, as it might with a mid-engined sports car. Visibility is great, and seat comfort, lateral support and adjustability are first-rate.

But it’s perceived quality that has taken the biggest leap. The 992’s dashboard has a line of metallic toggle switches just below the infotainment screen that look expensively hewn, with a knurled finish. The car’s manual heater controls and gear selector also look like they have been designed with care, and their presence seems mainly to appeal to the touch.

Some will say that there’s too much glossy black plastic around the interior, and too many places for dust and dirt to collect, to make it easy to keep the car looking great – and that it’s unlike Porsche to use such dressy, fussy interior features on a 911. But most, we suspect, will be too struck by how classy and expensive a driving environment this famous sports car has taken on to care too much about the minor details.


Once all the Turbo and GTS models have arrived, and Porsche’s GT department has subsequently given us several hardcore varieties of the 911 each with a distinct motorsport flavour, the Carrera S will certainly feel like an entry-level offering. And so we can, with reasonable confidence, answer our original question in one word: very.

How fast is the Porsche 911?

On a dry but not particularly warm day, 444bhp and 391lb ft saw the Porsche 911 accelerate to 60mph in 3.4sec and on to 100mph in 7.7sec. These times are quick enough for the 911 to show a clean set of exhaust tips to the more powerful Aston Martin Vantage we recently tested in near-identical conditions. Amazingly, they’re also almost an exact match for the GT3 RS of the previous generation, which goes to show the considerable benefits of turbocharging.

Grippy, well-balanced and agile – if not as playful as might be hoped – our ultra-composed test car flowed in concert with driver inputs and the contours of winding B-roads

Indeed, arriving in totality at 2300rpm, the torque from this twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat six imbues the new 911 with muscular in-gear performance, though once up and running the V8-engined Vantage does generally put in the stronger showing of the pair. The Porsche’s principal advantage remains almost limitless traction when pulling away from either a standstill or low speeds.

But perhaps, with a car as iconic as this, more important than the scale of the performance is the nature and character of its delivery. In this regard, the new 911 can take a while to warm to. Improved cabin isolation and new exhaust particulate filters have subdued the car’s aural character and give proceedings a mellower quality than with previous 911s. There is some wastegate flutter and burbling on the overrun, but this highly efficient engine isn’t quite one to put your neck hairs on standby.

However, with familiarity you begin to fully appreciate the sensational alacrity of this quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the almost immediate response of this improved engine to throttle inputs, and the manner in which it enthusiastically spins to its 7500rpm redline as if it were normally aspirated. It is remarkably linear, in fact, wonderfully flexible and arguably the best forced-induction performance engine built anywhere outside of Maranello at the moment.

When the time comes to shed speed, the Carrera S puts in a typically phenomenal effort from Porsche, pulling up from 70mph in 39.9m in the dry – identical to a McLaren 720S wearing Pirelli P Zero Corsa track-day tyres, and well ahead of the 43.4m achieved by the Vantage.


Porsche 911 Carrera S 2019 road test review - cornering front

‘A chassis to die for’ were the words we used to describe the previous Porsche 911, and by and large that sums up our sentiments today. If anything, this is an even more competent set-up than that of the 991.

The wider front track now fends off understeer seemingly indefinitely on the road, and certainly until the point at which the turbochargers have spooled and begun to overload the rear tyres with torque. Whether you have the stability control completely switched off or in its lenient midway setting, it’s at this point you realise just how well-balanced the latest 911 is, and how forgiving the handling attributes are when driven either skilfully beyond its considerable grip levels or just overdriven full stop.

Apex speed on track is simply sensational for a ‘normal’ 911, where the four-wheel steering seems to prevent understeer from brewing. GT-division wares such as the upcoming GT3 will move the game on considerably, too

This is an enjoyably exploitable car but hugely stable with it, and happy to carve quick, neat lines along undulating, tortuous roads with supreme accuracy. With the dampers in Sport mode, vertical body movements are brought deftly to an end almost as soon as they have begun to develop, and the resistance to pitch or squat is uncanny.

However, if you will excuse the old cliché, there is a feeling among some road testers that the new 911 has become almost too competent. This is a chassis of rare precision and panache, but the commitment levels required to properly indulge in its standout characteristics have never felt greater. A partial lift of the throttle will still dramatically tighten the car’s line, but otherwise its neutrality when only making ordinary progress can count against it. We can hardly hold Porsche to account for developing a more rounded machine, but the rear-engined essence of a traditional 911 does seem fainter than before.

Porsche’s electrically assisted steering – now with quicker gearing that, along with the expertly calibrated four-wheel steering, makes for whip-crack reflexes through tighter turns – also seems unnecessarily heavy given the light loadings and gentle spring rates at the front axle, but is at least supremely linear.

For a view on how faster and more capable a track car the ‘ordinary’ Porsche 911 Carrera S has become after the addition of turbocharging, four-wheel steering and the like, consider this: it is now only half a second slower around MIRA’s Dunlop dry handling circuit than a 2015 991 GT3 RS. Being almost 200kg lighter than its nearest rival from Aston Martin, meanwhile, helps explain the lap-time advantage there.

The 992 feels amazingly adhesive, controlled and secure even on the limit of grip. The car’s rear-axle steering is subtle enough to make handling feel intuitive and forgiving, and its widened tracks make it turn in, hunker down and stick to the apex with real tenacity. Handling isn’t as playful or readily adjustable, either on or off the throttle, as 911s have been over the years.

Porsche 911's comfort and isolation

Over time, Porsche has broadened the 911’s dynamic repertoire to the extent that many now consider it too much a grand tourer and too little an out-and-out sports car. They point to the inexorable weight gain and a more muted aural character, and old road-test data does duly show that, since the ‘997’, the 911 has not only become dramatically quieter at idle (measured from within the cabin) but also noticeably more so at a cruise.

Mind you, this still isn’t an especially peaceful car at speed. The weight of the steering and the 911’s planted stance convey their own sure-footed brand of comfort, and the driving position is largely flawless, but if you want to view this car as a GT-type device, then tyre roar is an issue. This is largely down to the rear axle. Porsche stiffens the structure and uses higher pressures for the vast 305-section tyres to support the weight of the engine, and the combined effect is to transmit coarser road surfaces into the cabin.

Both a Vantage and the V10 Audi R8 we tested in 2015 are quieter on the motorway, and rarely is the 911 without its breathy, rubber-generated din. That said, even with the 10mm ride height drop that comes with the PASM sport suspension option, the 992 flows along conspicuously well.

For the same reasons that tyre roar is a factor, there’s a faint business underfoot on anything less than a perfectly smooth road, but that’s forgivable given the car’s stellar body control. Visibility is excellent and linear responses for all the driving controls seal the deal: there’s never been an easier 911 to live with and drive every day than the 992.


Porsche 911 Carrera S 2019 road test review - hero front

The 991 Carrera S we road tested in 2016 was priced from £85,857 at the time. For the 992, the price for what is now the entry point to the 911 range rises to £93,110.

While that figure does include all of the sorts of creature comforts you would expect from a car at this price point – think climate control, the latest infotainment suite, leather upholstery – you’ll need to part with a lot more money for the options you’ll really want. The sports exhaust is £1844, lowered PASM is £665 and the Sport Chrono Package is £1646. These represent a small handful of the extras added to our test car. All up, it was a £109,302 car, and that still doesn’t include a rear wiper (which would be a further £245).

For proof of the pre-eminence of the modern Porsche 911 as an ownership proposition, look no further than its predicted residual values

While the latest mechanical revision has muted the flat-six motor’s audible character to a greater extent even than in the turbocharged 991, it does pay dividends in terms of fuel consumption. A touring economy of 39.4mpg is highly impressive given its near supercar level of performance.


Porsche 911 Carrera S 2019 road test review - on the road action

In objective terms, the Porsche 911 has once again raised its game. That might sound trite but, when the basis for improvement was an eminently usable sports car already widely regarded as the definitive driving machine among its peers, Porsche deserves all the plaudits it will surely get.

This new '992' is better balanced and usefully more agile than its predecessor, with a second-generation turbocharged powertrain of explosive straight-line potential and class-leading efficiency. The interior is a masterclass of ergonomics and a much clearer selling point than a 911’s has ever been, and there are perhaps no cars of comparable performance so easy to slide into and drive fast.

Faster, richer and more competent than the 991, if less vivacious

However, our criticisms have a familiar ring to them. With this generation, the Porsche 911 has grown in stature yet again, and possesses a character more distant and aloof than not only the models that fashioned its legend but indirect super-sports car rivals such as Aston Martin’s thunderous Aston Martin Vantage, which now aren’t a great stretch more expensive.

We look to later 992 variants to inject greater excitement into the mix. That said, as an opening gambit, this Carrera S is mostly stellar, and goes to the top of the class.

Porsche 911 FAQs

Is the Porsche 911 available as a plug-in or hybrid?

Porsche has been something of an EV pioneer with its Taycan, while the next generation Macan will be all electric, as will the Cayman and Boxster. Then there are the Cayenne and Panamera, which are both available as plug-in hybrid models. Yet the Porsche 911 has missed out on any electrification, sticking instead to its iconic, rear-mounted flat-six petrol engine. However, the brand has revealed that a plug-in 911 will arrive in 2024, potentially boasting more than 700bhp.

What are the main rivals for the Porsche 911?

In many respects, the Porsche 911 exists in a class of one, as no other model is able to match the 2+2 model’s blend of performance and practicality. However, for driving thrills and visual excitement the mid-engined Audi R8, while for old-school front-engined rear drive entertainment there’s the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The McLaren GT comes close to matching the 911’s everyday comfort and usability, as does the BMW M8 - although it’s a bigger and heavier car.

How much power does the Porsche 911 have?

Regardless of the model, the Porsche 911 isn’t short of firepower. Even the entry-level Carrera packs 380bhp, while the Carrera S and GTS deliver 444bhp and 473bhp respectively. Then there’s the track-focused GT3 that serves up 503bhp from its naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six (all other 911s are turbocharged). The Turbo has an impressive 572bhp, but the Turbo S increases this figure to a monsterous 641bhp, which is enough for a 2.7 seconds 0-62mph time and 205mph top speed.

What choices of gearbox does the Porsche 911 have?

Almost every version of the Porsche 911 comes as standard with the brand’s brilliant seven-speed PDK twin-clutch gearbox. Serving up incredibly fast and smooth gear changes. It’s one of the best of its type in the business. It’s particularly satisfying in manual mode, when you can use the wheel-mounted paddles for greater control. However, there is a manual gearbox option for the Carrera S (seven-speed) and GT3 (six-speed), which has a deliciously precise and short throw action for ultimate driver engagement.

Where is the Porsche 911 built?

Like almost all the brand’s models, the Porsche 911 is built at the Zuffenhausen factory in Germany. All versions of the are built here, including the coupe Cabriolet, Targa and track-hardened GT3. Although Porsche can trace its roots back to 1931 and the first cars were built in Gmund, Austria, Zuffenhausen became the company’s home in 1950 when it employed a local coachbuilder to assemble bodywork for the firm’s first car, the 356.

How many generations of the Porsche 911 are there?

Not many cars of any type can match the long history of the Porsche 911, which made its debut in 1964. Now in its eighth generation, the legendy 911 has undergone numerous changes, including most significantly the adoption of water-cooled engines with the 996 model in 1998. However, over the years the car’s basic template has remained the same, with a rear-engined flat-six engine and 2+2 seating layout. And while it has got bigger on the outside, the Porsche’s styling has always been an evolution of the original, making the car instantly recognisable.

Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine, and is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests, performance benchmarking and supercar lap-times, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found on Autocar's YouTube channel

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year, and focuses mainly on the more driver-orientated products, as is tradition at Autocar. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, loves watching sportscar racing, and holds a post-grad in transport engineering. 

Porsche 911 First drives