What is it?
Think of a Porsche 911. Not any 911. One that's twin-turbocharged and rear driven, with huge tyres. One that'll sprint to 62mph in a shade over four seconds and flat-out will see the far side of 180mph.
Some of you will now be thinking about the 993 GT2, but you could just as well have the new 911 Carrera in your mind's eye. That's the new and very much entry-level 911 Carrera. It's an extraordinary thing: the performance of a pulverising homologation special built as recently as the mid-1990s can now be matched by the most junior member of the family.
In fact if you option the Sport Chrono package, it'll drop the new car's sprint time to four seconds dead, against 4.4sec for the 'classic' GT2, but that only serves to strengthen the point. The two cars also share a very similar contact patch, though in 2019 the Carrera's 295-section rear tyres class as fairly modest, whereas in 1995 the 285-sections on the GT2 were almost grotesque by the standards of road-going Porsches.
The only major difference is that back then you needed to spend the equivalent of £173,000 to get such epic performance from a 911. Today it costs half that. Admittedly the GT2 also tipped the scales at less than 1300kg – some 210kg shy of its descendent, even though the new car benefits from aluminium body panels. There's still work to be done on that score.
So, the new 911 Carrera: non-S, non-4WD, non-Cabriolet, but driven here with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox instead of the seven-speed manual that'll arrive in due course. This isn't quite ground zero for the contemporary 911, but it's close.
The engine is the same rear-mounted 3.0-litre flat-six found in the S, though detuned with smaller turbochargers to deliver 380bhp at 4500rpm instead of 444bhp. Torque is also down, from 391lb ft at 2300rpm to 332lb ft from 1950rpm, although the knock-on effect of that seems slight: in kickdown the Carrera S bludgeons 50-70mph in a claimed 2.2sec whereas the plain old Carrera takes only 2.6sec. I'm certain many owners wouldn't notice the difference. Perhaps some road testers, too.
Elsewhere the Carrera gets smaller brake discs than the S, and while it's possible to specify many of the optional extras available further up the range (our test car uses carbon-ceramic brakes), two notably aren't made available at all. How much might Carrera owners miss rear-wheel steering and the 10mm drop in ride-height that comes with the PASM Sport suspension package? We'll see.
With no extras whatsoever, the Carrera costs £82,793, making it some £10,000 less expensive than the Carrera S. I should add that this test car costs considerably more than basic, thanks to extras such as a nose-lift system, sports exhaust, and the Sport Chrono Package mentioned a moment ago, which includes the dynamic engine mounts. The car also has the optional 90-litre fuel tank. This should, if the 40mpg touring economy recorded by the Carrera S Autocar road-tested earlier this year is anything to go by, yield an almost unbelievable motorway range of 800 miles.