You'd be forgiven for assuming that the latest iteration of the most iconic sports car to ever grace our roads was merely a facelifted 991, but delving beneath its new aluminium body unearths a plethora of innovative engineering that makes the 2019 Porsche 911 992 one of the most competent and convenient sports cars money can buy. We were lucky enough to be given the keys to one on a drive and track day in South Australia recently, here's our take on the all new Porsche 911 992.
Yes, the lineage is glaring, inside and out, which will lead haters to claim it's nothing more than a refresh, with an almost same-but-different interior, repositioned turbos and access to the former GT-only Porsche Track Precision App, but it's also everything the evolution of the 55-year-old marque should be - advanced, refined and utterly enthralling.
Porsche 911 992: What's New?
Aesthetically, the new harks back to the best of old. We see the return of a longer, more angular bonnet, with a slight scoop, which disappeared with the arrival of the 996 twenty years ago. Inside, a retro, analogue tachymeter takes pride of place above a long flat dash with a five-dial circular instrument cluster, also paying homage to the past. Sitting alongside the cluster is a seamless, and sizeable, 10.9-inch infotainment touchscreen but now without the very handy double pop-out cup holder beneath it, replaced by a single unit at the base of the spring cleaned centre console, sporting a sleek but stubby new shifter.
The 100% new body is now 70% aluminium to reduce weight. Ironically though, the car is heavier than its predecessor, thanks in part to new tech, bigger turbos, a new 8-speed gearbox and 44mm wider hips (equal to that of the 991 C4S) in both the S and 4S variant. From an engineering standpoint, the bigger turbochargers get new cast iron manifolds and the intercoolers have been repositioned from behind the wheels - to behind the engine, directly below the spoiler, which now opens to create downforce but also promotes airflow directly into the intercoolers.
Rear 21-inch wheels distribute a modest increase in power, up 22kW to 331kW and, with the optional Sport Chrono Package, will produce a 100km/h sprint of just 3.3 seconds in the Carrera S and 3.2 seconds in the 4S.
When you're going flat chat and the 992 is running hot, new active aero vents built into the front bumper open for more efficient cooling. Up the back, the spoiler works in four positions, normal, sport, air brake and wet - a mode that detects water on the road, and optimises responsiveness and handling for the conditions, including raising the wing to an extended performance position for stability.
While we didn't drive the car at night, a technical presentation of the new LED matrix headlights, which diverts the high beam light once it senses obstacles in front of it, appeared to be a great piece of optional innovation.
Behind the wheel
We kicked off our 48-hour Porsche experience at Adelaide airport, greeted by a fleet of Carrera S and 4S 992s fresh off the boat from Stuttgart. From there, 150km of winding roads awaited us before a night at Rydges Pit Lane and a track session at The Bend Motorsport Park.
Excited was an understatement.
Navigating the corners in and around Mount Osmond provided the opportunity to experience the 992 as the vast majority will - a very special Sunday drive. A car as capable of playing the role of GT (with more than enough space for a couple of bags in the bonnet and even kids in the rear) as it is doing the sports car thing.
And when I say sports car, really I mean supercar.
Dialled up to Sport (when fitted with the Sport Chrono Package, which I wouldn't go past) the 8-speed transmission is exemplary, even when left to its own devices, as it probably should be for us mere driving mortals. The steering is as sharp as anything I've driven, the throttle response is sublime, the turbo lag is non-existent and the soundtrack perfectly satisfying.
Both the Carrera S and four-wheel 4S cars we drove - after a hearty lunch at Mitolo winery - appeared to include the majority of chassis upgrades, including Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, PASM Sport (a 10mm reduction in ride height), excellent rear wheel steering and wider active engine mounts. On the road, the differences between the rear wheel and four wheel drive variants are unnoticeable. On the track, however, things definitely become clearer.
On the track
Capping off day one, we arrived at The Bend only to be bundled immediately into four cars for a hot lap session. Unfortunately, we'd missed Mark Webber by a day but he'd briefed Karl and the team with one clear objective, to show us exactly what the 992 was made of. The minutes that ensued were sheer motoring euphoria, sans traction control of course.
The following morning we descended from our rooms, perched over The Bend's straight, into the pits where every Porsche 911 992 in the country awaited us, with two mean GT3s ready to lead us out. A comprehensive tour of the track with the Porsche driver team showed us exactly how to tackle each corner - where to brake, turn in, apex and get back on the throttle. Which is great in theory, but almost instantly out the door once you're touching 240km/h before jumping on the brakes to dip it into turn one.
I must confess that I've been to some very watered down track days. Fortunately, this wasn't one of those days, with the Porsche team determined to have us on the plane that evening well and truly gobsmacked...and I was, I really was.
Leaving the Sports Plus mode to the track, I was astonished at the ability of Porsche's foundation 911. Obviously, it was eye-opening to understand what the cars could do at the hands of a professional driver the day before, but the amount of joy these cars can provide the average Joe really makes you wonder why you'd need to spend another cent on a car. There's so much poise in the chassis, the steering is wondrous and there's more grip than a handshake from Arnold Schwarzenegger. As you grow more confident with its ability, so do you with your right foot, squeezing it a bit more with every lap, entering corners at obscene speeds and exiting them without a scintilla of doubt.
Interestingly, and refreshingly, I preferred driving the $265,000 Carrera S on the track, mostly due to its braking delivery, which seemed to get less bogged down than the front end of the Carrera 4S. Thus, I'd unlikely stump up the additional $16,100 for the more expensive model, especially when the options you need to tick on both will run you another $20k plus anyway.
With plenty more variants on the way, including a manual gearbox, which, as much as it pains me to say - I don't know if I'd bother with - there's going to be plenty of choices when it comes to the 8th generation of the iconic Porsche 911.
Rest assured, however, that you'd be happy to climb into the base model every day for the rest of your life, and save a fortune over any of its British or Italian counterparts (on both drive away price and servicing!)
Nearly 6 months and multiple, Astons, McLarens, AMGs later, this foundation model Porsche 911 992 is still my pick for the car of the year.
To spec your own Porsche 911 992 and read more about its new features head to Porsche.com.au.