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Henry Catchpole

Comparing the 992 Carrera S Against a Rawer Rival

While its undoubtedly true the latest iterations of the Carrera have softened their image, expanded their midsection, and grown more commercially appealing, they still retain a level of performance that wows the enthusiast. Especially when considering the gains brought by modern turbocharging and PDK gearboxes, there’s not much the typical user is left wanting for—at least in terms of straightline speed.

However, at what price do the electric steering, heavier transmissions, forced induction come? To get a better sense of the tactile, visceral losses caused by modern technology, Henry Catchpole staged the 992 Carrera S against another European 2+2 with comparable power, price, and weight.

Its rawer rival is the Lotus Evora GT410 Sport, and simply by posing the two cars beside one another, we see how their designs speak volumes. In comparison, the Evora looks like a child’s plaything, whereas the Carrera S is a subdued, sophisticated sports cruiser. Perhaps it’s just the shade of Smurf blue adorning the Lotus’ hide which causes that perception, but the dated interior doesn’t help that view much.

Looks aside, what we’re truly concerned with is that elusive trait of connection. With that occasionally irritating but always informative feedback through the wheel, the Evora’s steering feel bests the subdued and smoothened electric steering in the 992. There’s simply more information coming from the front axle.

Additionally, the V6’s bark barges into the Evora’s cabin in a way that the Porsche’s softer note sneaks into its cabin. Though musical, the Porsche’s muffled exhaust note fails to give it the same sense of occasion.

The 450-pound difference between the two makes the Lotus a much more wieldy car on narrow country roads; there’s no escaping weight. It’s clear that liveliness seems to come with some setbacks, especially in this price range. That’s quite interesting considering both cars, at 73″, are equally wide—and that the Evora has a longer wheelbase. There really is no escaping heft.

Though as quick, it lacks the some level of involvement that makes its blue rival so appealing.

While the plush Porsche is a better car for most, and is by no means a Panamera in athletic garb, it has undoubtedly lost something. The pared-down, straightforward, honest car that made its predecessors such involving cars is still very much alive in the Evora. The tinny, shed-built brawlers like the Lotus are such stimulating driver’s cars largely because their focus is on connection, and not mass consumer appeal. While the Porsche might be as fast if not faster over a stretch of country road, the Evora is the one that will leave its user buzzing.

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The Panamera Turbo S e-Hybrid Contains A Wonderful Dichotomy


Porsche’s big wagon has nearly 700 horsepower, it’ll go nearly 200 miles per hour, and it weighs more than 5000 pounds. Somehow it is big and comfortable but also incredibly sporty. Somehow it manages to dawdle around in silent electric-only mode, then seconds later crank up a huge turbocharged V8 when you swap to Sport mode. It can move five people in comfort, as well as all of their stuff. It can also haul ass. Carfection reviewer Henry Catchpole says « It’s a bit like a 918 Spyder in this [wagon] body, » and I don’t know about you, but that sounds tremendous.

The Panamera Turbo S e-Hybrid Sport Turismo is one of the longest names in Porsche nomenclature history, but it all sort of makes sense when you boil it down. Obviously it’s a Panamera. The Turbo S means it has a 550 horsepower turbocharged 4-liter V8. The e-Hybrid bit gives the car a 136 horsepower electric power bump. And finally, Sport Turismo means it’s got a humpback that can fit your tall luggage better than the standard Panamera body with a trunk.

« Possibly the most ridiculous car I think I’ve ever driven »

And of course Henry means ridiculous in the most endearing way possible. This car is a step toward everything for every driver. It’s fast and fun and incredibly loud when you want it to be, but calm and quiet and eco conscious when you need it to be. This is imperative for many large European cities, which don’t allow cars to run on gasoline power in city centers without paying a quite hefty fee. You can easily swap to eco mode and crawl around the city on full EV power before you head out to the country for a romp around on full turbo power. It’s the best of both worlds.

 
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New 2019 Porsche 992 revealed: all you need to know

We’ve ridden shotgun in the prototypes, but Total 911 is attending the unveil of the new Porsche 992 series 911 in LA, prior to it reaching showrooms early next year. That it’s visually similar to the 991 before it is no surprise, Porsche’s evolutionary approach to its styling no more obvious than with the 911, but this eighth-generation model brings the company’s iconic sports car up to date, adding connectivity, driver assistance and improved environmental performance all while retaining its driver focus.

ENGINE & PERFORMANCE STATS

Retaining the 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six of the 991.2, the 992 is launched in Carrera S guise, it developing 450hp, which represents an increase of 30hp over the outgoing Carrera S. In rear-wheel drive PDK form that allows a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds, or 3.5 seconds if the optional Sport Chrono pack is fitted. The Carrera 4S reduces that by 0.1 seconds thanks to its traction advantage, the top speed for the Carrera S being 191mph and the 4S 190mph. That’s 0.4 seconds faster than the equivalent outgoing 991.2 model, the 992 boasting performance in the realms of the 997 Turbo.

The consumption and emissions figures quoted for the 992 look less impressive, with Porsche quoting 31.7/31.4mpg and 205g/km/209g/km for the Carrera S/4S respectively. These figures are based on the new, stricter, WLTP testing procedure which give a a greater real-world result, so customers should expect consumption equivalent to the outgoing models, even if the numbers don’t suggest it.

AESTHETICS

Externally the 992’s most obvious visual cue is the new rear light bar, this LED strip spanning the entire width of the rear. All Carreras, from the launch S models, to the standard Carreras that will follow next year will be wide-bodied, with all being as wide as the current GTS/GT3 models. The width at the front axle grows by 45mm, too, the steered wheels being fitted with 20-inch alloys, the rear being staggered with a 21-inch rim.

That widebody is almost entirely constructed from aluminium in a bid to save weight, the 992 set to weigh much the same as the car it replaces. That’s despite the addition of some additional new tech, the 911 embracing driver assistance with the addition of lane keeping assist and lane departure warning equipment, brake assist with emergency braking as well as the availability of Night Vision Assist with a thermal camera. Should you option that, the images will be displayed on one of the screens situated either side of the large analogue rev-counter that sits prominently in front of the driver in the instruments. Convenience in traffic will be added with the option of an adaptive cruise control system with automatic distance control and stop-and-go function.

INTERIOR

The interior is a marked step from the 991, the centre dash dominated by a 10.9 inch touchscreen, it giving access to familiar entertainment and navigation functions as well as displaying the driving modes. To the usual Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual Modes Porsche has added Wet Mode, this selectable mode automatically prepping the PDK shift strategy, traction and stability systems and throttle map when wheel housing sensors detect wet tarmac.

The connectivity of the interior systems is improved, with swarm online data assisting with navigation, and apps including Porsche Road Trip for route planning and Porsche Impact being an emissions estimator that allows you to estimate financial contributions to offset your emissions with your favoured internationally certified climate project.

Engine revisions to help reduce that impact include revised turbochargers and new intercooling with shorter, more efficient paths, as well as an improved direct injection process. The addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission (a seven-speed manual will follow) derived from the Panamera also underlines Porsche’s future climate credentials as it allows the company to add a hybrid electric motor into the transmission at a later, as yet to be confirmed, date.

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Paul Stephens Le Mans Classic Clubsport driven

If you only go to one race in your life, make it Le Mans. La Sarthe’s battle of man, machine and time is something everyone should experience at least once. It’s a race that’s inextricably linked to Porsche, many of the company’s most famous victories taken over two complete loops of the clock’s face. Paul Stephens for one is a fan. He’s been going as long as he remembers, to the main event and the Classic, which in 2020 will be celebrating its tenth running. Stephens came back from his last visit with the seed of an idea… a limited-run 911 wearing the Le Mans Classic badge. Usefully, Stephens has the means to create just that.

No solo homage either, over months of negotiation and some creative input from both sides of the English Channel, Stephens built a celebration of Le Mans with the backing of the organisers of the Le Mans Classic race. The result is the Le Mans Classic Clubsport, which can be had in either M471 Lightweight or M472 Touring versions. Stephens admits the majority of interest has been in the Touring, the Lightweight perhaps a touch too extreme for most in being pared back in the extreme, doing without underseal, a passenger-side sunvisor, glovebox lid, lightweight carpets, Lexan rear windows, manual winders and the loss of some sound deadening.

Choose that and you’ll save 100kg over the Touring, though at 1,070kg it’s not exactly portly, its specification best described as covering the essentials. That’s part of its appeal and, indeed, true to the Classic badge it wears. Stephens is quick to point out that it’s not a backdate in the conventional sense. Yes, its looks inevitably and deliberately evoke vintage 911s, but the detailing adds some neat nods to modernity, not least the fit and finish inside.

Its base is a 3.2 Carrera, specifically a 1987 to 1989 car with a G50 five-speed transmission. The goal with the engine is to make it rev-hungry, requiring its driver to get the best from it, as with Porsche’s lower-capacity units. To achieve that Stephens added Mahle barrels and pistons with machined RS-spec camshafts, a lightened and balanced crank and con-rods. It’s dry sumped with a front-mounted oil cooler, while there’s electronic ignition and machined individual throttle bodies with a GT3 plenum. The exhaust is a full, equal-length system with individual heat exchangers.

The result of all of that is 300hp, that peak right up near the 7,900rpm rev limit, torque too peaking fairly high up the rev range. On firing the 3.4-litre, Stephen’s ambition for a racy engine is clear, it flaring with intent before settling into a purposeful idle. Even in the Touring there’s clearly not a great deal of sound deadening, while the luggage box in the rear seems to work as a resonance chamber, amplifying the evocative sounds from the 3.4-litre flat six.

All that sound isn’t enough to detract from the attention to detail obvious in the interior. Stephens’ team of builders has spent countless hours prototyping new interior trim parts, building new dash structures and designing their own door cards, centre console and kick plates to create an interior that’s exacting in its detail but subtle in its execution. The seats, fixed back with Houndstooth cloth, grip you perfectly; the instruments are painted green behind a dished Momo 360mm steering wheel; the 24-hour clock an amusing nod to the race that the Clubsport celebrates. The door kicks and the centre console are finished in black leather, the millimetre-perfect stitching in contrasting green beautiful, so too are the green seatbelts. The footplates around the pedals underline the attention to detail, Stephens determined with this Le Mans Classic Clubsport that he’d do things a bit differently, creating unique trim rather than replacing, recovering or restoring.

 

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Porsche 997 v 991 GT2 RS tested on track

When we think about ‘Porsche’ and ‘Rennsport’, which connotations spring to mind? For me it’s the many ingredients which make the visceral experience of a raw 911: ostentatious aero; a stripped interior; loud, mechanical noises from inside the car; razor sharp throttle response and direct, unfiltered steering. The concept of a turbocharger wouldn’t be high on the list of too many enthusiasts.

Perhaps it should though, for Porsche’s history with turbocharging is as rich as its narrative with racing, the company’s endeavours on the track spawning the concept of its Rennsport cars for the road in the first place. Even before the company had unveiled its 911 Turbo to the world in 1975 it had already set about trying to race it. Built by Norbert Singer, the 2.1 Turbo RSR was constructed according to FIA Group 5 rules and pitted alongside sports ‘silhouette’ cars from rivals including Ferrari and Matra. It raced at Le Mans in 1974 – with every top-level Le Mans Porsche since using forced induction.

It finished 2nd overall to a Matra driven by a certain Gérard Larrousse, keeping a host of open-cockpit prototypes honest. It was no fluke: the RSR Turbo went on to record another 2nd place in the Watkins Glen 6 Hours, 7th at the 1,000km at Paul Ricard and 5th at the Brands Hatch 1,000km on the way to helping Porsche finish third in the World Sports Car Championship that year.

Alas, it was to be the only turbocharged 911 to officially adopt the Rennsport name. New rules from the FIA stipulated a change, Porsche going on to spawn the 911 Turbo-based 934, 935 and 936 thereafter. That is, until 2010. Following three generations of GT2 in the 993, 996 and 997, Porsche unveiled the 997 GT2 RS. Ostensibly a Frankenstein of the 997.2 Turbo S and 997 GT3 RS 4.0, it was a carbon-clad, lightweight monster with rose-jointed rear suspension, its tuned, twin-turbo motor making it the most potent road 911 of all time with a mighty 620hp at its disposal.

Although it never really featured in top-level works or customer racing (save for Jeff Zwart’s record-breaking Pikes Peak run in 2011), the 997 GT2 RS looked to be sharing the 2.1 Turbo RSR’s destiny of being an exotic anomaly interwoven in the Porsche Rennsport tapestry. There was no indicator of a successor in the pipeline, the 991 generation skipping the GT2 moniker entirely. Then, in autumn 2017 at, of all places, the launch of a new Xbox racing sim, Porsche announced the arrival of its 991 GT2 RS.

With only 500 997 GT2 RS’s and an estimated 2,000 991 GT2 RS’s worldwide, it’s not often you’ll see one of each generation side by side. However, that’s exactly the sight we’re treated to on arrival at Silverstone’s Porsche Experience Centre ahead of our twin test of both these performance goliaths. Representing GT2 RS genesis, the established 997 is the platinum smash hit, its 991-shaped replacement posing as the awkward second album. Can it really take Porsche’s blown Rennsport to a new level?

We’re yet to turn a wheel in either, but the 991 is already asserting itself, towering above the 997. The 991 simply looks like a Cup car, albeit with licence plates, its rear wing dwarfing the 997’s comparatively modest proportions. We’ll save the comparisons for later, though. After a quick cuppa and sign-on, it’s time to get reacquainted with the 997.

For the full feature on our 997 v 991 GT2 RS track test, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 171 in shops now. You can also order your copy here for delivery to your door anywhere in the world, or download to an Apple or Android device of your choice. 

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