If you’re looking for concrete evidence of evolution, consider the Porsche 911. In the five and a half decades since the sports car debuted, it has undergone myriad changes. The basics have stayed the same—two seats, engine in back, swoopy styling—as the details change. More power, more tech, less air cooling. Last night, on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show, Porsche continued the process.
The new Porsche 911, dubbed the 992, will arrive on dealer lots next summer. The design is refined and modernized. The performance upgrades should meet the expectations of the model’s legions of enthusiasts. And the tech is smarter than ever, to the point where the 992 listens to the ground to help you have fun while staying safe, even in the wet.
Foremost in the mix is a modified flat-six turbocharged engine, mounted behind the rear axle as always. That's good for 443 horsepower (up 23 from the previous mill), in the Carrera S and Carrera 4S models of the car. Porsche’s engineers reshuffled its innards to improve efficiency and power delivery, with an improved injection process and new turbocharger and intercooler geometry, Porsche says. The refinements net a 0.4 second improvement in 0–60 times, at 3.5 seconds for the S model and 3.4 seconds for the all-wheel-drive 4S. If you opt for the Sport Chrono Package, you’ll shave another 0.2 seconds off those times.
The standard gearbox will be a new version of Porsche’s pavement-shredding dual-clutch, 8-speed PDK paddle-shifting marvel, but fear not, fans of manual transmissions. The automaker promises a stick will be available, though at an undisclosed date sometime after the initial release. Find enough open Autobahn and you can reach the 190 mph top speed, though 4S owners will be able to just slip past the poor saps in the S models at 191 mph.
New tech includes a “Wet Mode” that detects wet pavement via acoustic sensors in the wheel wells—as opposed to activating along with the windshield wipers or reactively sensing changes in traction—and adjusts the stability control, the rear wing position, and gearbox responsiveness to keep the car stable. It’s a more proactive pre-conditioning of the car against those hazards, which Porsche says is key given the spirited driving owners tend to favor in the lightweight sports car. This will be standard on all 911’s, as is automatic emergency braking. Optional safety extras include Night Vision Assist with a thermal imaging camera and adaptive cruise control.
In a brazen nod to modernity, the new Porsche Communication Management system (which debuted in the Panamera) comes with a nearly 11-inch central touchscreen that’s a full four-inches grander than its predecessor. That system sits amid an interior full of assortment of straight lines zipping across the dash, around the instrument clusters, and along the doors. It’s all said to be inspired by the clean lines of the 1970s vintage 911s, with recessed instruments and minimalist aesthetic.
Minimalism rules the exterior as well, with smooth curves unmolested by such design crutches as character lines and creases. The wheel housings are now wider to match the staggered 20-inch (front) and 21-inch (rear) wheels, bumping the width by 1.77 inches in the front and bringing the rear in line with the previous GTS model’s 72.91-inch width. The electric door handles sit flush with the body, but the most distinctive design element is the 3D “Porsche” brand plate below the rear light bar—right where most drivers will be looking.
Porsche says it reshaped the now all-aluminum body, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference between this car and the outgoing model. Of course, performance is what really matters, and we’ll have a full review of the car by mid-January. Until then, start gathering your spare change: The 2020 911 Carrera S starts at $113,200, and the 4S at $120,600.
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