VALENCIA, Spain – You're looking at the eighth generation of one of the world's most iconic sports cars, the Porsche 911 (here in Carrera S guise). We hit some quiet roads in the Spanish countryside as well as the Ricardo Tormo circuit to get to grips with this model's new technology, improved engine (with better performance) and wider footprint.
In short, as much as 80 percent of the car. Interestingly, there will be only one body across the range; the wide body we usually associate with Carrera S models. The use of a broader range of materials has led to the percentage of steel being lowered from the outgoing 991.2's 63 percent to just 30 percent in this new model. There is also a vast list of fresh technologies on offer, from updated lighting systems to on-board infotainment and safety assistance.
Although the engine fitted to the new Carrera S (an entry-level Carrera will soon be released, too) is similar to the unit used in the outgoing GTS, numerous changes have been made, while Porsche has now also introduced its eight-speed PDK transmission.
Behind the wheel
While the new model is modern and technologically advanced, Porsche enthusiasts will be happy to hear the 992 is still "pure 911". The Zuffenhausen-based firm's designers wanted to replicate some of the horizontal cabin elements first seen on earlier 911s – and they have achieved exactly that.
Still, there are some changes to get used to. The permanent five-dial layout has, for instance, been replaced by a large central rev counter flanked by two screens, each showing two dials. However, these can be configured to the driver's liking. The larger infotainment screen is positioned above the transmission tunnel and offers all the necessary details and information.
As expected, the driver still sits satisfyingly low in the car, while the range of adjustment on the pilot's seat and steering column makes it a cinch to personalise the driving position.
As we leave the pits, I notice the engine note hasn’t changed much over that of the previous generation. There's still that typical flat-six sound together with a blowing noise from the turbo. Pay close attention and you can hear how the latter sound changes depending on the throttle input.
The steering may be 11 percent quicker, but the turn-in is just as direct as that of its forebear. After two warm-up laps, I edge closer to the 911's grip limits through the slower corners; as before, this car instils immense confidence in its driver. I enter the corners at conservative speeds, allow the car to settle and accelerate hard on the exit, taking advantage of the weight sited over the rear wheels. I sense how those wide rear tyres are working hard to put all the torque down through the rear axle. It's truly a unique experience.
Even though peak power is developed at 6 500 r/min, delivery tapers off only slightly as you approach 7 500 r/min, a fact that urges the driver to rev the 3,0-litre all the way to its redline. The brakes are strong with good feedback through the pedal, while the additional ratio in the transmission has little effect on the car’s outright capability, both on and off the track.
After the circuit experience, I'm able to view my lap with Porsche’s latest Track App, recorded using a smartphone mounted to the windscreen. Not only does it visually record the lap, but it also indicates the engine’s revs, the chosen gear, G-forces generated and speed, to name but a few parameters. Previously offered for Porsche’s GT cars, this app is now available for buyers of Porsche’s Carrera models as well.
A fellow enthusiast recently confided in me that he doesn’t understand 911s. "They all look the same ... and some classic 911s are worth R10-million and others only R500 000". He may have a point, but this is also one of the reasons these cars are unique in the automotive industry.
The eighth generation of the 911 takes Porsche's iconic sportscar to the next level. It still drives like a 911 (and thus feels charmingly familiar) but offers the latest technology in a package that's hard to beat, particularly if you consider the performance on offer at this price point.
Ultimately, I walked away mightily impressed with the Carrera S, a car that I’d be happy to drive on a daily basis or merely on special occasions. Of course, now's a pertinent time to throw in the classic “but wait, there's more” line, since more powerful models are coming soon...