Porsche 911 review - ride and handling
Still feels like a proper 911, but only delivers those familiar sensations when you’re driving hard
If stepping inside the 992’s cabin suggests an increased air of maturity next to those of previous 911s, then the driving experience continues this initial observation. While still undoubtedly a 911, it now takes just a little more digging to unearth qualities that were previously much closer to the surface.
This may, at first, be a little disappointing for some 911 diehards. Particularly as the 992 feels just a little less tactile than the 991 it replaces, delivering fewer sensations through seat, steering and pedals, and its petrol particulate filter-muffled exhausts delivering less flat-six fizz through to the cabin. Driven at a moderate pace, everything feels just a little too ‘normal’, as if you’re in a downsized Panamera rather than a 911 – still a level above many cars, but no longer as characteristically ‘911’.
The good news is that as you increase the pace, the shroud does get slowly pulled away. Switch the PDK to manual mode and hang on to lower gears, and the engine feels more enthusiastic, unleashes familiar sounds and has excellent throttle response. Lean harder on the brakes and pedal feel and bite begins to emerge. Give the front tyres more to think about and feedback begins to creep through the steering wheel rim, while bumps and undulations can set the light nose bobbing ever so slightly. And you can get on the power good and early, knowing that if you’re smooth, the rear tyres will simply hook up and launch you down the next straight.
The downside to all this is that given the 911’s performance threshold is now so high, you’ll be travelling at quite some rate by the time your 992 has turned into a 911. Porsche’s own Cayman still demonstrates its abilities and its balance at more accessible speeds, and as the 911 grows ever wider, its smaller counterparts still feel better sized for UK roads. There is of course one caveat – the handling balance in low-grip situations is highly entertaining, with Porsche’s typical clarity of control allowing you to augment the 911’s movements with accuracy and confidence at much lower speeds.
As a GT however, the 911 is better than ever. There’s still plenty of characteristic 911 road roar, but wind and engine noise are well suppressed, and while the ride is quite firm at low speeds, it seems to improve as your velocity increases – as a fast A-road or motorway cruiser, those Panamera-like talents are easy to appreciate.
The manual transmission is of course an important additive to the 911’s viscerality, with its sweet shift and an inherently more connected experience that no automatic transmission can offer. The issue is the astonishingly long gearing, which despite its seven ratios tops out at 85mph in second and 110mph in third, essentially keeping you in the engine’s lower half of the rev range at all times on the road. Long gearing in manual Porsches is quickly turning from a mild inconvenience into a real flaw, and granted it’s due to some particularly unfriendly emissions regulation cycles, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.