New 2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S review - road and video track test
The new Porsche 911 Carrera S is the most advanced 911 yet, but is it still one of the best drivers cars?
Bigger, heavier… Not words that you want to hear in relation to a new 911 but it would be wrong to jump to conclusions because the 992, the seventh generation 911, is almost all-new rather than being an updated 991. There’s a new, wide-track body that’s more aluminium intensive, an extensively re-worked version of the 3-litre bi-turbo flat-six and an all-new eight-speed twin-clutch PDK gearbox.
It’s a chunkier car but looks sharp in detail, while the rear, with its high-level light strip, is fresh looking but still unmistakably 911 from a distance. Similarly, the interior looks somewhat familiar at a glance but is also all-new and features more TFT instrumentation and fewer buttons.
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The all-new body features much more aluminium. Compared with the 991 shell, the percentage of steel used has more than halved, from 66 to just 30 per cent, with the body’s main pressing being aluminium for the first time - along with all the other external panels, save the bumpers, naturally. And there is just the one wide-hipped body design this time. The front track is increased by 45mm, for the first time on a standard 911 there are different diameter wheels on each axle - 20in front, 21in rear - and the adaptive damping is completely revised (the previous 991 RS models also featured staggered wheels).
An eight-speed PDK twin-clutch gearbox replaces the previous seven-speed unit and is mated to a twin-turbo 3-litre flat-six that shares its basic dimensions with the 991.2 Carrera engine. In the 992, however, the revised unit features bigger turbochargers with cast intake manifolds, more finely controllable piezo fuel injectors and totally revised air intakes, with the bigger charge air coolers positioned beneath the engine grille where they are more effective. The charge coolers swap places with the air filters ,which are now in the rear wings. The standard 992 engine makes 444bhp, 30bhp up on the 991 Carrera S, and 391lb ft, 22lb ft up. Coincidentally, this ‘9A2 evo’ makes exactly the same power as the 991 GTS even though it now has a Gasoline Particulate Filter (GPF) in the exhaust.
Engine, transmission and 0-60mph
The all-new PDK gearbox has a shorter first gear ratio and a longer top gear than the previous seven-speed ’box and features a quick shift mode like that used in the GT3 for super-fast shifts at high engine revs and loads.
Although the 992 weighs 55kg more than the 991 (partly because the GPF adds 15kg and the new PDK box is heavier) the uplift in engine performance improves its power-to-weight ratio.
Both the Carrera S and Carrera 4S get to 62mph some 0.4sec faster than the equivalent 991s, in 3.7 and 3.6sec respectively. The 992 also laps the Nurburgring Nordschleife five seconds faster, at 7min 25sec, which is only one second slower than the 444bhp 991.2 GTS on Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres… The cars we tried had the optional sports exhaust and sounded typically 911 despite the fitment of the GPF.
What’s it like to drive
Twist the new mode button that comes with the optional Sport Chrono pack and you can feel the car become more urgent and focused. Overall, the 992’s dynamic character is similar to the 991’s, in that the reality of its rear-engined layout is only revealed when you’re pushing really hard out towards the limits of adhesion.
Grip is excellent and the car’s poise is outstanding, even when it’s pushed beyond the limit of grip. The Carrera S and four-wheel drive Carrera 4S we drove had most of the chassis upgrades, including PDCC, PASM Sport (-10mm ride height), rear steer and active engine mounts, but it’s clear that Porsche’s engineers have worked hard on feel; the steering is particularly impressive, with wonderful on-centre connection and crisp, slack-free response when you make fast inputs. Another high spot is brake feel, which is enhanced by a new, stiffer composite brake pedal made from steel, plastic and carbonfibre. On road, day to day, it's difficult to tell the rear-drive and all-wheel drive cars apart but if you like to play with opposite lock, the rear-drive car is more transparent and easier to exploit.
Its limitations start to become apparent when you start to push the 911 on track for a quick lap time, where it's place at the sensible end of the incoming Porsche 911 range becomes more apparent. Despite its lighter body-in-white, overall the new 911's extra mass can be felt, with the standard Carrera S susceptible to understeer in tighter corners as the front end fails to find real purchase in the road surface. Combine this with a lack of edge from the powertrain and this Carrera's on-track capabilities start to run thin, which one might feel is unfair as this is not a GT or Turbo model, until you're reminded of its £93k base price.
We can’t make a definitive judgement having not driven the 992 on the road but all the signs are that Porsche has made an even better GT that retains all the 911 character of the 991 gen car, and then some.
The comfort, performance and poise have all moved on versus the 991, and steering and brake feel are superb. Some of the details aren’t quite there; the pop-out door handles feel like an unnecessary complication, the 3D letters that sit on the ledge by the rear light strip spelling ‘Porsche’ seem a bit fancy, and there’s a lot of black plastic on show low down at both ends. Overall, though, the 992 feels like a solid, positive evolutionary step.