Watch: Sam Wallace drives the new Porsche 911 992
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A lot of people, including Jeremy Clarkson joke that every iteration of the Porsche Carrera 911 looks exactly the same. That is until you see the new model up against the previous generation and then you realise you want last years model as much as last weeks raw chicken.
The latest version is the 911 is called the 992. Which is relatively confusing. The model before that was the 991 and it was the first time Porsche had decided to turbocharged the Carrera, up until then it was famous for being naturally aspirated. The Porsche boffins could remain pure and bore you at the dinner table about throttle response. Now, with the 992 they had made the Turbos even more angry.
The good news is I would get the chance to form my own opinion because Porsche invited me to their Asia Pacific test drive. Just me, quite a few Filipinos and a camera man called John. More on John in a moment, because he is the star of this story.
We met at the knobby Sofitel hotel on Auckland’s waterfront and it was quite clear that this was a slick event. Porsche know how to throw an international party. It left me feeling there must have been a last minute cancelation, hence the invite. But on the bright side I had tried to fit in by wearing a patterned shirt with buttons and I even tucked it into my trousers. Did you know that the average Porsche driver is 51 years old and tends to be a business owner or C suiter. A term I had never come across, relating to senior staffers. Chief Executive, Chief financial officer. You get the drift. Those guys.
The problem for me and camera man John was, we had arrived a little bit late. The drive was about to begin and John hadn’t set up his camera gimble. Let me explain a camera gimble. You get a camera on a stick and you balance it by moving weights around until it sits perfectly balanced. The idea is that when I drive like a lunatic his camera doesn’t move at all. We get silky smooth shots and you as a viewer think, wow that looks slick!
This process took John 25 minutes, that was just enough time for the convoy of Carreras to make it onto some windy roads south west of Auckland. John finished balancing his rig. Looked up and realized all was not well. His head had been down for too long and his inner ear was starting to play tricks on him.
The giveaway was his colour. All the blood had drained from his face. Which is probably why the first thing that came out of his mouth was “I’m going to faint”. I thought, that’s not the end of the world, just don’t drop the camera, it took so long to balance. But then he followed it up with I’m going to spew.
Now if you have ever been in a taxi that someone has spewed in you will know that despite every attempt… that smell never goes away, despite how much incense the driver burns. So normally the decision would be easy pull over and evacuate the chuckee as fast as possible. But we were on a 100km road with a bunch of excited Filipinos barrelling down on top of me. The only other escape route was a farmers cattle crossing. So if I turned off there was a good chance the front skirt of my $310,000 Carrera 4s would remain on the cattle stop.
But I did it… I poked the nose into the famers yard and I heard no catastrophic crunching. John opened the door as the vomit left his mouth. I let out a slow motion “nooooooooooooo” but the vomit whistled past the red leather seats, past the edge of what I can only assume is mohair carpet and ending up on the Porsche logo (which was now illuminated cos the door was open) in the door sill. It couldn’t have been any closer.
Much to Johns disgust the day continued and we had the chance to try both the 4WD 4S and the RWD S. So lets lay down some numbers. They are both propelled by Porsches 4.0 litre turbocharged flat six, making 444bhp. 30 more bhp than last year. The PDK dual clutch gearbox is slick. It has 8 gears but the top speed is achieved in 6th gear which makes the last two cogs about economy. The 4wd 4S gets to 100 in 3.6 seconds. The rear wheel drive S in 3.7 seconds. For me the 2WD S is the one to have, it felt more alive, a sharper instrument. Especially now that you can click a button and select wet road mode. Which somehow gave me confidence on the greasy Matakana back roads.
So how much better is the new 992? It lapped Nürburgring in 7:25 a 5 second improvement on the last generation. And I know it seems like a lot of mucking around to save enough time to light a cigarette. But that’s the level of refinement Porsche are at, they are fighting for every millisecond and every gram of weight. For instance, they completely redesigned the seats to save 3 kg. What they didn’t know is John has already saved us about that by dropping off his lunch.
The horrible thing about car sickness is you never really recover. And John didn’t. So instead of exploring the limits of grip and the perfect weight distribution, instead of testing the new high flow turbos that cram 18 pounds of boost into the cylinder head, I nursed John. I nursed him with all the care in the world. John only vomited 6 times that day. And I had the time of my life. The Carerra 911 992 is as perfect as it is beautiful and the one I drove still has that new car smell. Just.