A 911 with new zeal : Porsche (type 992) 911 Carrera 4S Driven [review]

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Porsche’s new 911 is just around the corner from a Singapore launch, and a blast in one with the steering wheel on the ‘right’ side in New Zealand reminds us that some things never change

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Auckland, New Zealand – I hope it doesn’t spoil the surprise, but I really, really want one of these. “These” being one of the new 911s. Generation eight, type 992, whatever you want to call it, the latest 911 is nearly, almost, practically upon us. Very likely, as you read this it’s stuck in Homologation Hell, where the local authorities want to prod every inch of it in search of goodness-knows-what.

Till they say it meets their “standards” for sale in Singapore, we’ve had a short drive with the car and controls on the ‘right’ side. That’s because New Zealand has got its hands on the new 911, and such is Kiwi hospitality that we’ve finagled a go.

(Click HERE to read our drive in the type 992 911 Carrera S...)

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Of course, it’s nearly meaningless to say you want a 911. There are so many of them to cater to such a broad range of tastes and desires that you almost feel sorry for anyone who has to narrow his choices down to a single model. For now, things are relatively straightforward if you want a 992: you can have a Carrera S or Carrera 4S.

Both have the same flat6 (what else!) displacing 3.0-litres, twin-turbocharged to carry on where the 991.2 left off, and good for 450hp (30hp up from the 991.2). There’s plenty of newness here, though. The turbos are new, the intercoolers have been repositioned, that sort of thing. Matter of fact, you can hear the turbochargers better now, whistling softly in the background when the engine fills its lungs.

(Click HERE to read about the 991.2 911 Carrera S... in the company of a 356 C & 911 E)

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More revision: there’s a switch to an 8spd PDK, with shorter gearing lower down the ratios for more rapid takeoff, though the extra gear is more for economy than outright performance; top speed is still reached in sixth. As for the AWD system in the Carrera 4S, it’s 95/5 rear/front power distribution most of the time, shuffling to 50/50 when things get rowdy.

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In the dry, you’ll never notice it’s there. Mixed tyre sizes (on 20-inch wheels front and 21s aft) help give the 992 unearthly levels of grip; if you want to unstick the 992, you’ll have to try like the dickens, and what sort of moron actively wants to make a 450hp car break loose, at least on the street?

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Within sanity, the 992 is… well, a 911, meaning you know where you stand with one. The 991.2’s already incisive steering has been sharpened up here, and that’s accompanied by a sense of unruffled poise. The ride feels pretty much on the right side of firm – busy but never unsorted – and this is one of those cars that has you feeling annoyed with yourself for diving through a bend at speed, only to realise that you could have gone in hotter and made it through with ease.

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Mid-corner bumps fail to upset its composure, and about the only thing worth complaining about is that the tyres rumble along boisterously – whether that’s a quirk of Kiwi tarmac or not, we’ll have to see.

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Mind you, some of that might be down to an array of tech assistance. Torque vectoring, (optional) rear-axle steering, active suspension… goodness knows what does what and when, but the technology never feels intrusive, so you’ll never regret having it. Even the active rear wing has seen progress, with not just a greater surface area, but the ability to deploy in two stages now, with the angle of attack varying with speed.

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As for the engine, it’s something you’ll want on your side in any kind of fight, seeing as to how it feels like something whose muscles have muscles. Low-end torque is abundant, and so is a top-end zing that makes it worthwhile to shoot for the 7500rpm redline, over and over. And yes, there’s the signature flat6 voice, that starts as a chatter at idle and rises to a howl.

In the dry, it was near impossible to tell the difference between the C2S and C4S. But there’s something worth noting about the two cars, at least, visually: unlike in the past, the Carrera 4 no longer has a wider body than the Carrera 2.

However, a superior launch means the 4S gets to 100km/h in just 3.4secs (if you have the Sport Chrono Package fitted, which you almost certainly will), 0.1secs quicker than the C2S. That’s a tiny margin, but at this level, why not? If you’re going to go flat-out, you might as well go all-out.

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It’ll come down to equipment levels and such in the end, but as things stand the C2S will go for S$546,588 here and the C4S for S$584,088 (both without COE or options), so there’s plenty of change to the saved if you think you can live with that tenth of a second’s difference.

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The Porsche is still the everyday sportscar, and if you can’t picture yourself driving this daily, you might want to contemplate the idea that you don’t stop driving a 911 when you grow old, but that you grow old when you stop driving a 911.

The interior quality has taken a leap forward, and the mix between digital and analogue is better judged here than elsewhere: there are virtual instruments, but the rev counter that takes centrestage is defiantly analogue, and it swings clockwise. BMW, take note.

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A big touchscreen deals with most functions, as per the fashion these days, but a row of analogue switches maintains some pretense of mechanical operation. If anything, there’s a slight retro vibe to the 992 if you care to look. The dashboard’s design looks like an updated 993’s, while the creases on the lid of the ‘frunk’ recall those of early 911s. There’s an LED strip to link the taillights now, and the effect draws a visual connection to the 993 – some people consider that the best of the air-cooled 911s, and it also happens to be the first Porsche I ever drove.

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I guess it’s no surprise that I want a 992, since I’ve also always wanted a 993.

PORSCHE CARRERA 4S
Engine: 2981cc, twin-turbo, flat6
Power/rpm 450hp/6500rpm
Torque/rpm 530Nm/2300-5000rpm
Transmission 8spd PDK dual-clutch
0-100km/h 3.4secs (with Sport Chrono Package)
Top Speed 306km/h
Fuel Consumption 9.6l/100km
CO2 219g/km

PHOTOS Logan West

Leow Ju-Len
Author: Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len has covered cars and the car industry since 1995. If it has an engine and wheels, you can count on him to be all over it like a monkey on a banana. Ju-Len believes in rear-wheel drive, V8s and world peace.