There are sports cars and then there’s the Porsche 911. It’s as simple as that. Unveiled in Los Angeles on November 27th, the 8th generation of Zuffenhausen’s iconic model is surely an eye-catcher. Codenamed 992, this new #TimelessMachine brings an evolutionary design and substantial changes under the skin. The 911 charisma is still there, even more intense than before. Can’t wait to drive this one!
I’ve always been a petrolhead, loving cars since an early age. First – like almost every other boy out there – I’ve collected and played with toy cars, then I started drawing everything which had four or more wheels, dreaming about becoming a car designer. Later on, collecting toy cars wasn’t a priority anymore, but collecting car magazines. Going (sometimes even running) to the newsstands early in the morning – be it rain, freezing cold or scorching heat – to buy the latest issues of several car magazines, reading them, then carefully placing those issues in the collection. As the years passed by, this passion turned into a full-time job as an automotive journalist, a job that even now, 18 years later, seems just as fascinating as it did during the first day in the office and the first article published in a central newspaper.
If there’s one car magazine I’ll always remember from my childhood it’s the 21st Top Gear UK issue, published in June 1995. The cover story – and also the main photo on the front page: a comparison between Porsche 911 Turbo (993) and the Ferrari 355. Besides the cool photos of the two sports cars battling it out during the comparison drive-test – ‘Irresistible force versus immovable object’ was the article’s title – the ending is still fresh in the back of my mind: ‘Just as the irresistible force can’t move the immovable object, the F355 can’t outpace Porsche’s 911 Turbo in the race for the most competent sports car of the moment.’ Given the 911 Turbo’s strong reputation and street cred, it’s no wonder the F355 couldn’t outgun it.
November 2018. Porsche presents to the world and to the lucky journalists attending the unveiling in Los Angeles the 8th generation 911 in Carrera S and Carrera 4S guise (of course, many future versions will follow). Although numerous spy shots of the new model with little camo have been floating around the Internet for months, seeing the official press photos and Porsche’s official videos with the 992 still felt thoroughly enjoyable. It was a similar story with the iPhone 4 and the forgotten prototype in a bar, which then became a top story for every tech media across the world, weeks before the official unveiling. This incident didn’t stop Steve Jobs from joking during the keynote – saying ‘Stop me if you’ve already seen this’ during the official iPhone 4 design presentation – nor did it stop the iPhone 4 from becoming a sales success. I’m sure the same thing will happen with the new 911: it will break the sales records achieved by the 7th generation, moving the sales figures even further.
The exterior design is an evolution and not a revolution. Why change a success recipe if it ain’t broken? The muscular, eye-catching exterior lines and shapes emphasise the leap in performance for 992. Significantly wider wheel housings arch over the 20-inch front wheels and 21-inch rear wheels. The rear end is now the same width across all models, highlighting the slimline centre section. At the front, the body is 45 mm wider. Flush integration of the electrical pop-out handles in the doors emphasises the tapered and smooth side contour. Between the new LED headlights, a bonnet with a pronounced recess evokes the design of the first 911 generations. The rear is dominated on all models by the significantly wider, variable-position rear spoiler and the seamless, elegant light bar. Without doubt, the back-end of the new model is the sexiest and most appealing seen so far on a 911. Other changes include new Porsche identification, revised model badges that feature the 911 name for the first time and a more heavily structured rear bumper with a wide black valance cover that houses air ducts for the engine bay and large oval tailpipe openings.
The differences compared to the previous generation are more visible when you step inside. The completely new interior is characterised by the clear and straight lines of the dashboard with recessed instruments. The 911 models from the 1970s provided the inspiration here. Alongside the central rev counter – typical for Porsche – two thin, frameless freeform displays supply information to the driver. The centre screen of the PCM is now 10.9 inches, and can be operated quickly and without distraction thanks to the new architecture. Located underneath this there is a compact switch unit with five buttons for direct access to important vehicle functions.
In terms of digitalisation, the 911 takes the next step into the future with permanent connectivity as well as new functions and services. The standard PCM features include online navigation based on swarm data as well as Porsche Connect Plus. Other new functions include a trio of apps, which are being made available for the first time on the new 911. The Porsche Road Trip app is intended to help in planning, organising and navigating over selected routes. The Porsche Impact app lets you calculate the financial contributions to climate-based projects required to offset CO2 emission. Finally, the Porsche 360+ app is described as a personal lifestyle assistant.
The new 911 (992) brings a world first: Porsche has developed a Wet Mode, included as standard. This function detects water on the road, preconditions the control systems accordingly and warns the driver, who can then set up the vehicle for a particular emphasis on safety, by simply pushing a button or using the mode switch on the steering wheel (Sport Chrono Package). Moving on to other driver assistance systems. The warning and brake assist system (also standard) detects the risk of collisions with moving objects and initiates emergency braking if necessary. Night Vision Assist with a thermal imaging camera is optionally available for the 911 for the first time. The adaptive cruise control option includes automatic distance control, stop-and-go function, reversible occupant protection and Emergency Assist function.
Also for the first time, both Carrera (to be unveiled later) and Carrera S variants can receive rear-wheel steering in a move that, Porsche claims, provides the 911 with added agility and improved high-speed stability. The new 911 (992) has been extensively re-engineered: it features a new platform structure with a greater amount of aluminium in its rear section, improving weight distribution. The new 911 is bigger in every vital exterior dimension, with a 45mm increase in its front track. According to Porsche officials, the new generation has a slightly longer wheelbase than before for improved packaging of the interior and drivetrain.
On to the power figures. The turbocharged 3.0-litre units, which continue to be mounted in the rear, offer slightly more power than their predecessors. They can be mated to either a standard 7-speed manual or a new 8-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The next generation of flat-six turbocharged engines has been further developed and is more powerful than ever before, while the drive efficiency has been increased by way of an improved injection process and a new layout for the turbochargers and charge air-cooling system. The turbocharged flat-six engine of the Carrera S and Carrera 4S now produces 450 PS. This corresponds to an increase of 30 PS compared with the previous model (the new 911 Carrera is slated to offer 385 PS).
Both 911 models unveiled in Los Angeles beat the 4-second mark for acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h: the rear-wheel-drive coupé needs 3.7 seconds and the 911 Carrera 4S with all-wheel drive just 3.6 seconds. This makes both cars 0.4 seconds faster than the previous model in each case. This advantage is increased by a further 0.2 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono Package. This brings launch control, revised gearbox software that allows faster gearshifts and a sport response function for added performance. As a result, it provides the new 911 Carrera 4S with a 0-100 km/h sprint that is 0.6sec inside the time of the old 911 Carrera 4 GTS, at just 3.4 seconds. The top speeds are now 308 km/h for Carrera S and 306 km/h for the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S. The new 911 Carrera S costs from 120,125 Euros in Germany and the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S from 127,979 Euros, including VAT.
Just like the car magazines from my teenage years and that particular Top Gear issue, the memories I have driving a Porsche 911 on the racetrack and on the road are still intense, especially those related to Porsche Performance Drive 2012 (video), the best event I’ve attended as an automotive journalist. With Christmas just around the corner, two weeks away, and having just seen the first photos of the new 911 tackling the winding roads of Mallorca, guess it’s time to start writing a letter: “Dear Santa, Don’t know if you love Porsche just as much as I do, but wanted to let you know that the international media test-drive event for the new 911 is scheduled for early 2019, so please work your magic. I’ve been good this year.”