Porsche 911 – The best keeps getting better

The new Porsche 911 is here to let us know the pleasure of driving a pure internal combustion engine car is still very much alive.

A new Porsche 911 is always the biggest news of the automotive year when it happens. To attend the launch is to know you are about to live through a couple of days that will never leave your mind, no matter how many different cars you have driven or launches you have been to.

I tried my best to hide the excitement, you know, play it cool with the Porsche people – yeah, just another day at the office. But it wasn’t. I will always be able to tell my kids I was there when the eighth generation 911 became a reality. Just like I was on the seventh. Yeah, I am counting.

So how was it? Well, pretty amazing, actually. Porsche Iberia flew a bunch of Portuguese and Spanish motor hacks to Valencia, where we had the Ricardo Tormo circuit at our disposal and some fairly extraordinary roads around it to make sure the new Porsche icon is better than ever.

A lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. The 992, a logical name for the 991 successor, uses the same, albeit more powerful, 3 litre turbocharged flat-six engine as before, producing in S guise 30 horse power more to a total of 450 horse power. The wheelbase is also carried on from the 991. The PDK gearbox is now an 8-speed and the chassis has been developed to accommodate a hybrid powertrain, which we will probably see in two years’ time.

The monocoque construction is now mainly made out of aluminium instead of steel. The engineers have thus tried to offset the additional weight brought by crash-test demands and an ever-increasing array of technology.

Tyres are ginormous and, for the first time, have different sizes front and rear, 245/305 section respectively, on 20/21 inch wheels. The front track has widened by 46mm and, because the rear track of the 2WD Carrera and 4WD Carrera are now the same (also a first), the rear track of the Carrera S has grown by 39mm.

Design-wise, the front has not changed much – nor could it being a 911 –, but the back is transformed, with a more horizontal orientation on the one hand, but also a higher waistline because of that aforementioned space needed for the hybrid module later on.

Overall, the 992 is even more muscular than the 991 and altogether bigger in every sense. It looks really good, if not as classically beautiful as its predecessor. However, to my eyes, the 991 is the most beautiful 911 of all time, so I am a bit biased towards it.

The first part of the programme consisted of two of us driving behind a last-generation GT3 RS around the circuit for a few laps. My partner in the chase of the Porsche instructor was actually a friend of mine that just so happens to be the best driver among all Portuguese journos, so if there is a way of making you feel slow on a brand-new 450 horse power Porsche, this is surely it.

Anyway, I held on best I could and the 992 Carrera S I was driving felt absolutely wonderful through the twists and turns of the Valencia circuit. The new 8-speed PDK double clutch box is a thing of wonder and rips through the gears instantaneously, allowing you to explore the engine all the way through the rev range, up to the red line at 75000 rpm.

After our time was up, I was offered a ride alongside a certain Walter Röhrl. Now aged, 72, the Porsche ambassador, for those who don’t know, is arguably the best rally driver that has ever lived. With him at the wheel, the 992 is the best car in the world. The way the car brakes, corners and accelerates is just out of this world when your driving talent is, well, perfect.

After the track time, we were given an itinerary around some spectacular empty roads, where we could let the Porsche breathe and show all its potential. The steering is incredibly precise, and the wider front track means the 992 corners with no understeer whatsoever. None. It’s just been eradicated. This feels extraordinary when you are just flowing with the car.

Inside, this new model is a big leap forward. More gadgets, more high-definition screens, less buttons. The seats are formidable and the quality of everything you touch a testament to a project where details are as important as the big stuff.

Prices are not what you would call cheap though. For now you can only get the S versions and the two-wheel drive Carrera S starts at €151,123. You need another €11,000 for the four-wheel drive 4S and €16,000 more for the convertible option on both. For this amount of money, you get a lot of performance, a lot of engineering prowess, a lot of style and an unmatchable history. Most of all, though, you get the best sports car in the world. It has been so for 56 years and it seems there is no reason why it should ever be any other way.

By Guilherme Marques