Car reviews - Porsche - 911 - Carrera 4S coupe
Stunning design inside and out, premium cabin materials, epic flat-six engine, flawless dual-clutch transmission, superb ride and handling balance, ingenious all-wheel-drive system
Room for improvement
Consistent price increases, long list of expensive desirable options, full gamut of advanced driver-assist systems unavailable, fiddly pop-out doorhandles, compromised driving position
Step up for another sportscar masterclass from Porsche, this time with the 992 911
23 Oct 2019
TELL us to shut it if you’ve heard this story before, but when Porsche does anything with the 911, it’s usually magic. The 992 series is no different.
A thoroughly modern reinterpretation of a sportscar classic, the 992 is very much the 911 of the digital world that we live in today.
Yes, some enthusiasts are still broken up about the end of water cooling and the imminent demise of the naturally aspirated flat six, but it’s certainly not all bad news here.
Like we said, when Porsche creates a new 911, it does it well. Needless to say, our extremely high expectations were easily met by the Carrera 4S tested here.
Can you believe that some people give Porsche flak for its evolutionary approach to the 911’s exterior styling as the generations go by? The 992 series is no different, but it’s still a good-looking thing – especially that rear end. Oh, boy.
After you’re done flirting with the metal, plastic and glass, the interior proves to be just as tasty. And this is where the 992 is truly different to its predecessors, even if the influences are still there.
At last, a thoroughly modern redesign of the 911’s cabin is here. A 10.9-inch touchscreen sits prominently halfway been the centre console and dashboard, while a pair of 7.0-inch multi-function displays flanks a traditional tachometer. It’s impressive but not perfect.
Yes, Porsche has finally decluttered the 911’s centre console, moving away from its predecessor’s button-heavy layout!
Thankfully, physical climate controls remain, but most other key functions have migrated to the new infotainment system, which while good, requires a few too many taps to access the features you want at any given time.
While we appreciate that the dual MFDs mimic the 911’s classic five-gauge set-up, the outer two ‘gauges’ are concealed by the steering wheel’s rim, with the driver having to shift their body to see their readouts. An unavoidable annoyance, perhaps?
The driving position is otherwise bang-on, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. And even less surprising is the 911’s difficult ingress and egress, with the former made more difficult in the 992 by new pop-out doorhandles that are temperamental at best when opened keylessly.
Not so controversial is the inclusion of a cupholder that is not only usable but located centrally – a massive win for the driver. The front passenger still gets a fold-out item that is nothing short of flimsy, though.
But perhaps the most controversial change is the 911’s new gear selector. It looks great, but we’re not sure how intuitive it actually is. While Drive, Neutral and Reverse are selectable, Manual and Park are not, with them instead confined to a couple of buttons below. Why?
Other than that, the 911 is business as usual, with the two rear seats only child-friendly when required. Alternatively, fold them flat and use the rear compartment as a storage area, because the ‘froot’ is only appropriate for a limited number of shopping bags.
Don’t worry, though, you’ll still feel a sense of luxury as no-one puts interiors together better than Porsche. Everything you touch has a quality feel, but we just wish the use of leather was more prevalent (dashboard, door shoulders and inserts, etc) at this price.
Speaking of which, the Carrera 4S Coupe we tested retails at $280,700 plus on-road costs. Yes, the 911 is more expensive again. Granted well-heeled buyers are unlikely to notice, but when you consider how long and pricey the options list is, it really starts to hurt.
And key advanced driver-assist systems like adaptive cruise control are four-figure options, while others like lane-keep assist aren’t even available! That’s just disappointing.
What isn’t disappointing, though, is the epic 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six-cylinder engine under the bonnet of the Carrera 4S. Sweet Jesus.
It is, of course, totally usable when cruising, but open it up above 2300rpm and hell is unleashed. Maximum torque of 530Nm smacks you in the face and keeps punching until 5000rpm, at which point peak power of 331kW is only another 1500rpm away.
And you know what? It feels like Porsche has lied to us. The Carrera 4S has got to be more potent than these figures suggest. Certainly, that’s what overseas dyno testing has found.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the optional Sport Chrono Package ($4890) that drops its zero-to-100km/h sprint time to 3.4 seconds. In reality, it’s got to be a lot closer to three seconds flat. It feels that damn quick.
A great deal of this performance is due to the 911’s new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission that is… flawless.
Smooth and capable at low speed but neck-snappingly quick when the pedal is to the pedal, this unit is nothing short of gobsmacking.
You’d think the drive modes are key to this experience, but the PDK is so damn responsive to throttle inputs that – even in Normal – it almost doesn’t matter. Nonetheless, Sport is the happy medium, while Sport Plus was clearly bred for the racetrack.
Porsche’s engineers weren’t done there, though, with plenty of time spent on perfecting the 991’s ride and handling, which are strong points again for the 911.
While road imperfections are felt with the adaptive dampers sent to Comfort, they are smoothed out, ensuring a relatively comfortable drive. Switch them to Sport, though, and feedback is amplified.
But you don’t really need to switch the adaptive dampers from their default setting on public roads, as the 911’s body control is excellent when cornering at speed.
Its chassis is also unbelievably communicative, while the quick steering is certainly better balanced than that of the Cayman, with just the right amount of heft on offer alongside plenty of feel.
Simply put, the 911 eats corners for breakfast, especially in Carrera 4S form, which has the advantage of an all-wheel-drive system that offers prodigious grip.
This set-up is ingenious, with only 10-20 per cent of drive sent to the front axle during even the most spirited of driving. As such, the Carrera 4S behaves like a rear-wheel-drive sportscar, pushing you along when the accelerator is floored.
Torque vectoring is also at play here, with Sir Isaac’s best noticeably being shuffled between the rear wheels to keep things on track.
This all combines to give the driver much confidence when driving at speed through the twisty stuff. Push harder and harder and it’s seemingly all good. This 911’s limits are very, very high. Off to the racetrack we should go.
Warranty and servicing
As with all Porsche models, the 911 comes with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with the three years of roadside assistance. Service intervals are every year or 15,000km, whichever comes first.
Blimey. Just when you thought Porsche couldn’t make the 911 any better, it hits you with the most welcome surprise left hook ever.
The 992 is an absolute beast, especially in Carrera 4S form, which affords its driver even more confidence when driving at full attack.
Does the new 911 have its flaws? Of course it does. But you very quickly forget about them. We just wish we had the money to afford one.
Nissan GT-R Premium Luxury (from $199,800 plus on-road costs)
Like the 911, it’s got four seats and a storied history, although the GT-R sets itself apart with its otherworldly acceleration. Unsurprisingly, though, it doesn’t do comfort quite as well.
Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe (from $260,770 plus on-road costs)
Strictly a two-seat but comparable in price, the GT has the 911 firmly in its sights. And it’s easy to see why it is developing such a following. That delicious 4.0-litre V8 is hard to resist.
BMW M850i Coupe (from $275,900 plus on-road costs)
As the new kid on the block – or the old – the M850i is here to make 911 buyers think twice before they put down their hard-earned. Sublime comfort and a lusty bent eight do that.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
Model release date: 1 April 2019
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