170, 180, 190, 200, 210 kilometres an hour—the speed climbed quickly. The digital speedometer clicked through numbers so fast it was just a blur. My torso was one with the supportive sport seats. And then, just like that, the g-forces reversed under heavy braking. My face felt as it was going to peel from my head.
I had asked Andreas—who works for Porsche and was nice enough to take me for a few hot laps around the legendary Hockenheim circuit in Germany—to turn on the digital G-meter so I could gather a bit of objective data on how much stick the new Porsche 911 generates.
Turns out it’s a lot. Through a few corners, I saw 1.3 g of lateral grip and 1.1 under braking. Truly impressive numbers for a road car on street tires. Andreas then told me that he wasn’t going as hard as he could and that it could easily do 1.5 through the corners, something I’m inclined to believe.
The 2020 Porsche 911 was unveiled a few weeks ago at the LA auto show, and it’s still very good. And yes, it is all-new. Even though at first glance it might not look like it. This is a 911 after all and it’s all about the details and staying true to the fundamentals that have made this one of the most recognizable and sought-after sports cars in the world.
Porsche Canada invited us to attend the technical workshops held at Plant Zuffenhausen and Hockenheimring where they went through many presentations, while we went through many coffees in an attempt to keep up with just how much has been changed on the new 992 911.
After sorting through much of it, we came up with a list of things that you need to know about the 2020 Porsche 911.
A new 911 takes 4 days to build
Plant Zuffenhausen is an impressive place situated in the Baden-Wurtemburg province of Germany and it is where the 911 and 718 Boxster /Cayman are produced.
Zuffenhausen produces about 50,000 cars a year and recently an investment of $700 million was made incorporating a new state-of-the-art body shop, expanding production for the new 992 and the upcoming electric Taycan.
Every new 911 takes 4 days to build and now consists of 32 percent aluminum in the body structure, including the entire one-piece side panels that posed quite a challenge to get just right. Most of the body shell is aluminum including the front bonnet and roof. There’s also increased use of materials like hot-formed steel and multiple new bonding techniques to cut weight, which is now down by about 30 kg. The finished product will weigh 105 kg more than the 991 but at 1565 kg, and considering the amount of tech crammed into it, the 911 remains a relative lightweight in its class.
A bit later in the production run, you’ll be able to order the roof in even lighter materials like magnesium and CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic). A glass option will also be available.
The cabrio versions will feature additional bracing to make up for the loss in rigidity that results from chopping off the roof. It’s about 5 percent stiffer now and the old one was already super stiff to begin with.
It’s bigger, but only slightly
The 992 has grown in length by 20mm, while the wheelbase remains exactly the same. The front track is also wider by 45mm and S models get a rear track that’s 39mm wider than the last generation. There’s also a bit more headroom for front and rear passengers. But like all 911s the rear seats are best reserved for small children or luggage.
It might look like the old one, but the difference is in the details
Blink and you’ll miss the changes. At first glance, it looks like nothing has changed but look closer and you’ll notice many throwbacks to 911s of yore.
Like the front fenders that now fully contain the headlamps. They don’t flow into the bumpers like before. Those fenders also contain a subtle crease that runs its length and new hood strakes evoke the styling of the first generation.
The headlamps feature the four-point lighting graphic seen across most new Porsches and LED Matrix technology uses 84 individual LEDs to provide maximum illumination without blinding oncoming drivers. Porsche claims that they offer comparable illumination to laser headlights.
A new vertical third brake light that’s integrated into the engine cover grille and an LED light strip, like on the new Cayenne, spans the length of the rear with 3D Porsche lettering in the centre. Easily one of my favourite design features on the 992.
Stepping back the overall look is more muscular with pronounced hips. The wheels on S and 4S models have staggered diameters for the first time: 20 inches in the front, 21 in the back. The rear wheels come wrapped in ultra wide 305 section tires.
There’s a new interior
Taking its cues from the very first 911s, the new interior has been completely reworked.
The watch-like tachometer sits dead centre like it always has flanked by two high-res screens that can be customized to display all kinds of information like the navigation map or that G-meter that Andreas and I were testing out.
A new 10.9-inch main display comes loaded with the latest version of PCM (Porsche Communication Management). The system is relatively easy to use if a bit menu-heavy but the graphics and response are top notch.
There are 5 hard buttons for access to important things like hazard lights, stability control, and damper control, as well as two user-configurable keys.
The centre console has the same slick black touch-sensitive panel that’s been used in the new Panamera and Cayenne and a tiny stub of a shifter that looks and feels perfectly machined.
New tech like risk radar can warn the driver of bad weather up ahead, or if there’s fog or slippery conditions. The built-in WIFI hotspot means that the 911 is always online and uses real-time traffic and navigation information to plot the best routes it can find.
Radio Plus will work with both online radio and traditional radio stations and will seamlessly switch between the two of them if one of the sources goes out of range. A nifty feature that ensures whatever you’re listening to will play without interruption.
Apple Carplay comes standard but Android Auto will not be implemented at least there are no immediate plans for it. Porsche’s reasoning for this is that most of their customers are Apple users. Hmm…
More safety, more assistance
There is, of course, more safety as well. 8 ultra-sonic sensors and 4 wide-angle cameras give a 360-degree view of the outside world. There’s a mono front camera and two radar sensors in the back.
This enables the use of Active Cruise Control up to 210 km/h. There’s a new stop and go function for traffic and Lane Keep Assist helps keep you centered in a laneway at speeds of up to 250 km/h. Not that those speeds have any significance for North Americans. Most people here just don’t have the type of lane etiquette that the Germans do for this to ever be a thing. Heck, most drivers here don’t even understand what lane etiquette is.
Reworked 3-litre flat six
The engineers have taken the twin-turbo 3-litre boxer engine back to drawing board making multiple improvements for increased efficiency and more power.
There are new turbos; the intercoolers are 14 percent larger and sit on top of the engine; new electrically actuated wastegates are more precise at controlling boost, which now maxes out at 17.4 psi. Piezo fuel injectors have been used for the first time and combined these refinements help the pancake six develop 23 more horses for a total of 443 hp. Torque is now 391 lb-ft also up by 23. The combined fuel consumption rating is just 9.0L/100 km for the 4S and 8.9L/100 km for the rear-wheel drive Carrera S.
The engine has also been moved forward by 168 mm and sits on stiffer engine mounts that have also been pushed 113mm further to the sides. This more rigid connection helps to reduce unwanted vibrations and further increases directional stability, especially during quick transitions.
0-100 km/h now takes 3.7 seconds for the Carrera S and 3.6 seconds for the 4S, conservative numbers as per usual with Porsche. Top speed goes up by 2 km/h to 308 for the 2S.
The new 992 can carve up the famed Nurburgring in a fleet 7 minutes and 25 seconds—5 seconds faster than the previous model.
The PDK dual clutch transmission now has 8 gears
The 911 gets 8 gears for the first time courtesy of a new dual clutch transmission that’s closely related to the one in the Panamera.
Already a quick gear swapper, this new 8-speed can shift even faster than before and sure enough out on Hockenheimring the 911 banged through gears like lightning. The shifts are smoother too; Porsche told us they programmed the transmission to create less of a jolt, especially in Sport Plus mode.
It’s also a more intelligent transmission that uses very accurate map data to detect upcoming corners and uphill sections holding onto the current gear rather than shifting up.
The transmission is beefier too and can handle up to 800nm of torque, that’s 590 lb-ft, and that’s a lot. A clue perhaps to how much power the upcoming turbo version will produce.
And for the purists, a true three pedal manual will be offered, probably with 7 speeds like the current one. Exactly when that will become a reality is unknown but it’s coming
Carrera 4S versions get a revised front axle drive that features liquid cooling and a 10 percent increase in torque capacity. The AWD system will remain rear-biased and it will provide more confidence and grip under slippery conditions.
There are new dampers
They are 15 percent stiffer front and rear and up to 23 percent stiffer on the Carrera S. They are a brand new design, made especially for the 911 by Bilstein and can adjust themselves continuously several hundred times a second to quickly to adapt to the road conditions.
Braking has improved
Another first is an electric brake booster not to be mistaken with a brake-by-wire system, which makes it better able to adapt to a hybrid powertrain. Porsche told us that a hybrid of some sort might be coming, but didn’t offer much more information than that.
Also new is an organic composite brake pedal that’s 41 % lighter and has a shorter travel for a quicker more direct response when braking. You have to love little details like that, making a lightened brake pedal just to give that bit of extra feel. This is what counts when it comes to making great driving cars, and something that is typical of Porsche.
6-piston front calipers and 4-piston rears clamping 350 mm rotors improve stopping distances by 1 metre from 100 km/h and by 11 metres from 300 km/h.
If you need more stopping power, optional yellow-caliper carbon ceramic brakes are still available.
There’s a larger rear spoiler
A traditional feature on 911s since 1988, the electrical pop out spoiler has grown quite a bit and can be set in three different positions depending on the conditions. Below 90 km/h the spoiler is fully retracted; above that, it goes into a new eco-mode, sort of an intermediate position for the least wind resistance. Performance mode is activated at speeds over 150 km/h and the spoiler fully extends for maximum attack.
The spoiler also serves as an air brake helping haul the 911 down with even more intensity.
There’s a wet mode
A world’s first is a new wet mode that uses sensors embedded in the front wheel wells that can pick up on the splashing of water from a wet road. It will then recommend the use of the wet mode, which must be switched on by the driver unless they want to have a bit of fun according to Porsche.
In wet mode all the chassis electronics are optimized for the conditions, the throttle is dulled and the rear spoiler is set for maximum downforce. On 4S models, more torque gets routed to the front wheels. We had a short demonstration of this and no matter how ham-fisted the driver’s inputs, the car would not slide.
The new 911 Carrera S can be ordered now and will start at $129,100. The 4S starts at $137,400. Both models should start to arrive in the fall of 2019.
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