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New Porsche 992: first look

It looks much the same, but there are significant changes. Not least, Porsche has future-proofed the 992 model for hybridisation, using a re-engineered eight-speed PDK transmission from the Panamera that’s got a space in it for an electric motor. It won’t be called into action just yet though, says 911 boss August Achleitner, because he’s not convinced the battery tech is good enough for now, but don’t rule it out for the Gen2 model.

That hybrid preparation also means there’s some space in the body for battery packs, though like the gap in the gearbox they’ll remain unused at the 992’s launch. All Carreras will now be widebodied, with the Carrera S we’ve been in the same width as the GTS. The front axle gains 40mm, while there’s new technology like Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning and the option of Night Vision. A march to autonomy? Achleitner says no, saying the 911 will be one of the last cars to do so, adding that at its core it’s a driver’s car.

All the new equipment inevitably adds weight, though the use of aluminium in the body helps mitigate that, Porsche’s engineers targeting a weight the same as the outgoing 991 for the new 992 model. There’s a new standard driving mode, the 992 detecting wet roads and priming the stability with tweaks to the gearbox and the rear wing’s angle of attack. Achleitner says that’s the result of the 911 being a relatively light car on wide tyres – with staggered wheel sizes of 20 and 21 inch, wearing 245/30 ZR20 and 305/30 ZR21 tyres respectively.

The engine remains the same turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six, with a number of significant revisions. There’s piezo injection, an entirely new intake and exhaust system, re-positioned intercoolers (on top of the engine, 993 Turbo style), while EU cars have an exhaust particulate filter, too. The output is up, 450hp in the Carrera S – the Carrera anticipated to have 385hp or so. In the S, Porsche’s engineers are saying it’ll match the performance of the 997 Turbo, so a sub-4.0 sec 0-62mph time, and a 190+mph top speed.

The slightly slower Carrera will follow the S’s intro, it adding the seven-speed manual to the line-up, while the inevitable Turbo, Turbo S, GT3, and GT3 RS models following, too. Word is the Turbo is punching out 650+hp.

We’ve ridden alongside Achleitner and his team of engineers as the 992 is signed off prior to its November reveal in LA. Be sure to read the full inside story of the new, future-proofed 911 in Total 911 issue 172, out October 31st.

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Feels Familiar: A Turbocharged 911SC Made for Mulholland

Derek Whitacre and I seem to have similar priorities. Not all fun performance cars need to be set up for the track. Give up a little bit of spring rate, retain a bit of carpet, and suddenly the usability factor goes way, way up. That’s not to say Mr. Whitacre’s 1982 911SC is a mild or modest machine. This Porsche was built to attack Mulholland Drive. With 420 horsepower on tap, and a whopping 460 lb-ft of torque at the wheels, it’s more than capable of powering itself into the hills at extraordinary speeds. To Marcus Vandenburg, host of Roads Untraveled, this car is a slightly unpredictable anachronism. It is the oldest 911 he’s ever driven, and one of the oldest cars of any type he’s driven in a while. To someone used to modern performance cars, this monster is sure to be something of a shock.

Some of you might remember this car from a Smoking Tire video where Matt Farah drove it in the rain (and found someone in a ditch due to the poor weather). Unlike Mr. Farah, Marcus was blessed with good weather. A good thing, because Derek’s 420 horsepower « 82 ME109 » is not a viceless, modern machine. Take a good look at that plate, too. It’s brown because the car shoots fire, and the plate has suffered.

A Messerschmitt was likeliest to kill a pilot on the ground due to its narrow, fragile undercarriage. This 911 is probably most dangerous while doing what it is meant to do- drive at speed. Like any classic 911 this is a Porsche that requires a deft hand, understanding of its weight distribution, and a hearty dose of respect to get the most out of it. Derek has run the car from California to Mexico, raced hillclimbs, and driven road rallies. To him, this Porsche is entirely about fun.

As Marcus says, there are a lot of nasty, negative things about Los Angeles. Derek Whitacre’s 1982 911SC, and Porsches like it, are not among them.

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GTS showdown: 997 v 991.1 v 991.2

It is ironic that in the week Porsche delivered to us a 991.2 Carrera GTS for testing, the UK government announced it is to ban the sale of all internal combustion-engined vehicles by 2040, following in the footsteps of our French governmental comrades which introduced an identical deadline for the final sales of gasoline-powered cars. Meanwhile, Porsche itself has been busy making significant inroads towards production of electric-only sports cars, recently announcing it is to pull out of the WEC LMP1 class in favour of a venture into the electric-only Formula E racing series. This is part of its motorsporting mission to develop sports cars of the future.

There’s no question the end is nigh for the internal combustion engine then, and therefore the motor vehicle as we know it. This of course makes for a fascinating backdrop to a group test here involving three 911 contemporary GTS models seeking to emulate a traditional driving experience.

Produced with driver purity in mind, Porsche introduced the GTS moniker to its 911 range in 2011 with the advent of the 997 Carrera GTS. Something of a parts-bin special to mark the end of 997 production, the first 911 GTS came with a lavish specification, including some one-off details exclusive to Porsche’s new model. The result was a sharper, more focused drive, available across Coupe and Cabriolet body styles in a choice of both rear and four-wheel-drive.

The new GTS proved a commercial sales success for Porsche, those 997-generation cars selling fast for £76,758 and never really dipping below £50,000. Today, a 997 GTS will set you back around the same figure as its original list price, a phenomenal achievement for a 911 Carrera just over five years old.

It is little wonder, then, that Porsche expanded the GTS moniker into an entire sub-brand, enamouring its Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne, Macan and Panamera models with the specification. Naturally this also continued on the 911 with the 991.1, those GTS cars the last 911 Carreras to be fitted with a naturally-aspirated engine, and finally the latest 991.2 generation, released in January 2017. Each car is essentially the pinnacle of its respective Carrera lineup, but which is best of the three GTS 911 generations produced by Porsche to date?

To decide, we gathered a delectable model from each generation for a fast road test along the twisty asphalt of the Suffolk countryside. The specification of our cars are intentionally as close to that ‘purist’ GTS blueprint as possible, so they’re all rear-wheel-drive Coupés, although the Riviera blue example is PDK, while the other two are fitted with a manual transmission. In keeping with the chronological order in which they were released, we begin our test with a seat in the 997…

To see the full feature, get your hard copy of Total 911 issue 158 here or download to your digital device from Newsstand. 

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2017 Porsche 991 GTS first drive review

Now in its third incarnation on a 911, the GTS range is firmly established as a highly specified badge above the Carrera S models. And it is a range, for all the engineer’s talk of there only being one true GTS (a manual, rear-wheel drive coupe) the marketing suits have won. Their persistence has been worthwhile, too, as with the 991.2 GTS, the adoption of the Carrera line-up’s 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six sees the issues of the old GTS Cabriolet and Targa models addressed.

Chiefly, the now 450hp engine – up 30hp over a Carrera S via new turbos and higher boost pressure – has the torque to shift the heavier, open-topped cars more convincingly. They might not be entirely true to the badge’s bridge to the GT department’s model ethos, then, but they’re no longer an affront to it.

At its core, and we’re talking that Carrera GTS Coupe manual that the engineers have said from the very first 997 GTS is the car that’s the GTS proper, the GTS remains a hugely appealing 911. It offers the unique combination of the Carrera 4’s widebody and rear-wheel drive, the Coupes gaining not just the 10mm suspension drop via standard fitment of PASM but a further 10mm lowering thanks to the specification of the Sport.

The increase in power is welcome, its 450hp being the same as a 997 GT3 RS, the changes to the engine making it keener for revs, at the expense of a little bit of low rev torque. That’s no sacrifice, and entirely in keeping with the GTS’s core values, that being of a more focussed driver’s car, without going to quite the extremes of the GT3. That said, Porsche is quoting a Nürburgring lap time of 7 minutes 22 seconds with its new Ultra High Performance, road legal tyre, that time just two seconds shy of what was possible in a 997 GT2.

That’s rapid Progress. Looking at all the other numbers associated with it, the GTS moves the 911 game on significantly. Whisper it, but in perfect specification it’ll keep a 911 R very honest indeed, and engage almost as much. In Carrera 4 guise it’s a worthy understudy to the Turbo, the GTS very much a sweet-spot in the Carrera range.

With those Coupes there’s the weight-saving option to delete the rear seats, the usual GTS extras of centre-lock Turbo wheels, black detailing, unique bodykit, a sports exhaust, standard Sport Chrono with Dynamic Engine Mounts, a limited slip differential with Porsche Torque Vectoring, larger brakes situated on new, lighter aluminium carriers create a cherry-picked specification that creates a brilliant Carrera. We’ve driven it, in 2, 4, Coupe, Cabriolet and Targa, which you can read about in-depth in the special 150th issue of Total 911 magazine, out 22nd February. We doubt you’ll be surprised to hear it’s a brilliant car, the GTS now maturing into a desirable range, even if it’s at its very best when at its purest.

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Turbocharged Carrera review: one year on

Just over a year ago I attended the Frankfurt motor show, where I watched then CEO Matthias Müller unveil the new 991.2 Carrera to the world’s media. I don’t mind saying I was a little apprehensive in the run-up to that silk cloth being lifted from the framework of the latest 911, either.

The adoption of turbochargers for this latest generation Carrera was widely anticipated, the reaction of the final product from press and punters worldwide less so. This move to turbocharging was a greater step for the 911 than its switch from air to water-cooling at the end of the 20th century, so it was simply imperative Porsche got it right. The big question was whether the latest evolution, exacerbated by a need to meet ever-stringent emissions regulations, would ruin the fabled Porsche 911 as we know it.

On paper at least, the new Carrera’s specs impressed. Greater power, increased performance marked by a significantly quicker ‘Ring lap time (Porsche quotes 7 minutes 30 seconds for the 991.2 Carrera S, some seven seconds quicker than the naturally aspirated Gen1, but I’ve heard from reliable Porsche sources the true timing was in fact quicker still) as well as improved emissions and fuel economy.

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However, the acid test would come with a drive in the real world, and in the last year we’ve been lucky enough at Total 911 to rack up thousands of miles at the helm of various 2- and 4-wheel drive incarnations of the new Carrera and Carrera S across Coupe, Cab and Targa bodies. So what do we think of this game-changing new 911, one year on?

Headline news surrounds that ‘controversial’ turbocharged flat six. Far from being a disappointment, this new 9A2 engine is nothing short of a delight. There’s plenty of low-down torque available, which dispels those diesel estates that would previously embarrass Gen1 Carreras from the lights. Lag from the fixed-vane twin turbos is virtually non existent, and we’re rewarded with a peaky redline of some 7,400rpm. Essentially its character represents the best of both naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines. If we’re picking picky (which, of course, we are), the turbocharged unit lacks the initial, razor sharp throttle response of the naturally aspirated Gen1’s flat six, but that’s a minor blotch on the copy paper here. In the real world at normal road speeds, you’d be hard pressed to notice.

The elephant in the room is the exhaust note, with blown 911s notorious for their muted acoustics. However, our on-board blast around Laguna Seca with Hurley Haywood last year seemed to put people at ease and, with Sports exhaust optioned, the flat six’s guttural growl is preserved. Granted, it isn’t as raucous in the mid range to redline as Gen1 991 Carreras, but it’s still very animated in tone, even popping when easing off the gas in Sport mode. We like it a lot.

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Other improvements to the Gen2 car include the relocating of the Sport (and Sport plus, when optioned) button to a new Mode dial attached within the circumference of the steering wheel. This change is welcome from a logistical and safety aspect: the driver can now switch between mapping without having to take his or her eyes off the road while fumbling for a push button on the centre console. PASM is also standard equipment on the Carrera now, offering firm damping for sporty driving (read: track use) while retaining civility for day-to-day errands. Apple CarPlay is a useful addition too, though this is never going to be make-or-break in the spec for a true driving enthusiast.

To conclude, then, the new Carrera gets a resounding vote of confidence from Total 911 as a worthy improvement over the brilliant Gen1 without, crucially, abandoning the final strands of that true 911 DNA we know and love. In fact, in our head-to-head test between Gen1 and Gen2 991 Carreras in January, we commented on our surprise at how quickly the new turbocharged car won us over, head and heart.

After such a gushing appraisal I must point out I’ve no agenda with Porsche here. I truly shared the anxiety of 911 enthusiasts worldwide who this time last year suspected the new 991 would represent a change too far for the 911 as we know it. Luckily, we need never have worried.

 

Total 911’s 991.2 Carrera Positives

+ Turbocharged flat six is gutsy and high revving; has character

+ Sound track is still animated, familiar flat six howl still prevalent

+ Basic manual 911 now the sweet spot of the Carrera range

 

Negatives

– Lacks razor-sharp throttle response of NA 991

– Steering feel still far removed from mechanically assisted cars up to and including 997

– PDK too clinical for road use

 

What do you think of the Gen2 991 Carrera? Comment below or tweet us: @total911

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