The famous hips are now wider in the new eighth-generation 911, which has just been launched in SA. Picture: SUPPLIED
The famous hips are now wider in the new eighth-generation 911, which has just been launched in SA. Picture: SUPPLIED

It’s a night-time unveiling. Tailing one of the new Porsche 911 Type 992s from the SA launch event, in the dark, you soon discover some very interesting design elements.

The dazzling new rear-light design retraces the unforgettable stern of the 1970s G Series 911s.

A pair of square-shaped reflector lamps illuminate from low down the rear bumper, and at high speeds, as the variable-position spoiler opens up, the new light bar and under-spoiler LED recreate that famous ducktail spoiler effect.

In motion and on corners in particular, as I followed one of the cars as it sped towards the mountains of Stellenbosch, I could have been chasing a 2.7 RS with its retro forward slant. But it wasn’t 1973 and that car wasn’t hanging about.

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This is why Porsche describes the new 911 as timeless, and also modern. As the sun steadily rose to the soundtrack of new age boxer motors screaming in anger, the magnificence of the real new 911 began to unfold. The eighth-generation car is 20mm longer and its famous hips are now 45mm wider at the front axle and 44mm at the rear axle of the Carrera S.

Inside the wider wheel arches sit 20-inch wheels at the front and 21-inches at the rear. According to Porsche: “The front end — generally 45 mm wider — revives a traditional feature of earlier 911 generations: a forward-extended bonnet with a distinctive recess in front of the windscreen.” Remember the 2.7 RS reference?

The upright dashboard is a throwback to earlier 911s but the technology’s all new. Picture: SUPPLIED
 The upright dashboard is a throwback to earlier 911s but the technology’s all new. Picture: SUPPLIED

I think it’s the most beautifully crafted 911. The smoothed out body lines and elegant one-piece LED light bar not only differentiate it from the old car but recreate a direct link to current Porsche ranges and, in turn, hint at the company’s future design direction as seen in early pictures of the soon-to-be launched all-electric Taycan.

Step inside the cabin which remains roomy because the wheel base is virtually untouched from the Type 991, and you get ported back to a 911 past of upright dashboard design. All you would need is a hounds-tooth seat pattern and thin gear lever in the middle to complete the harking back. Again the spectacular mix of old school, current and new school converges successfully within the confines of the dome roof. 

An ignition key is no longer provided, as the 911 features Keyless Go and a switch to start the engine. Just as it was designed for Le Mans racing, the gear lever and starter switch are always separated by the steering column.

New tech includes Night Vision Assist with thermal imaging, Porsche Wet Mode to make driving on wet surfaces much safer, and better digital connectivity. Touch screens, buttons and toggle switches are used to access a variety of features and information, or to tailor the attitude of the drive experience.

The standard setting is pleasantly comfortable. The damping is pliant, the steering effortless and views out of the glass house ample. It pulls strongly but quietly too and can be driven in a docile manner — as you would a VW Golf.

There’s no factory-programmed setting to yank you out of a sleepy driving style. Every texture, from the razor sharpness of its steering responses to the inviting and coarse vitality of a rear-mounted and a highly-strung boxer engine is a constant tap on your shoulder to remind that you are driving a Porsche, a 911 for that matter, the best species. Wake up!

The new generation of turbocharged flat-six engines found in the Type 992 and the myriad technical changes that would give a professor of mathematics an epic migraine — they are primarily developed for making it go faster, respond better, corner with superiority and invigorate the soul even more.

The new louvres have nine pieces on each side and the central brake light denotes the number 11. Picture: SUPPLIED
The new louvres have nine pieces on each side and the central brake light denotes the number 11. Picture: SUPPLIED
Image: Supplied

The new 3.0l motors have a 22kW increase in power to 331kW, and a 30Nm torque increase to 530Nm. An all-new eight-speed PDK auto transmission makes its debut and offers quicker shifts while improving overall engine efficiency.

In standard rear-wheel drive Carrera S guise the off-the-line launch is staggering in its crispness and brutality. It’s rated at 3.7 seconds to 100km/h with a top speed of 308km/h. With the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4S the same sprint is dispatched in a claimed 3.6 seconds and a top whack of 306km/h.

The major differences between the two are the attitudes on a variety of surface changes, traction and road radius. The RWD car is largely grippy but it can get dishevelled by unequal surfaces, while the traction nanny is understandably more alert and intrusive on hairpin bends, holding back the power should you jump on the throttle before the rump has settled. The 4S is the all-round athlete.

The added activity from the front wheels makes it that much more rapid everywhere, more so when the roads meander with real intent. The AWD version has oodles more grip to give you confidence to dice with the limits, allowing the further taking of ridiculous cornering liberties and throttling earlier.

Despite configuration, the new Type 992 feels light and agile in a way that few modern performance cars do. Just turn the wheel and the car dives for the apex. Squeeze the throttle and the car disappears into thin air. It’s the sharpest, most handsome iteration of the 911.   

Pricing

911 Carrera S — R1,708,000

911 Carrera 4S — R1,797,000