And now we’ve driven it on the road, for a reasonable stint, and in both 2S and 4S specification. First, though, came a few laps of a race circuit just in the 4S, where the 911 proved itself to be just as compelling as in our earlier test. The new 992 is a ridiculously fast and, in 4WD form, incredibly stable 911, with the kind of integrity to its feel that suggests you could lap one for hours and its only complaint would be when it ran out of fuel.
It’s the kind of feel that can make a car feel over-specified for the road. See also: most modern sports cars. The trick is to get something so fast, so capable, and which only gets better as you go faster, to feel engaging when you go slower; as you must in a modern 911. Consider that if today you drove a first-generation 911 as fast as it could possibly go on the road, the speed would probably still raise a passer-by’s eyebrow. Porsche had just such a 1963 car on display on the 992 launch. It has only 130bhp and wears 165-section tyres on 15in wheels. Gosh, it looked lovely. A 992 would be out of its sight before it was out of first gear.
How does the 992-generation 911 perform?
A 992 at sensible road speeds, then? You’ll not be testing the engine too much. It still revs to 7500rpm and drives through an eight-speed, rather than seven-speed, PDK (double-clutch) gearbox, impeccably crisply and quickly on up and downshifts. The engine doesn’t sound particularly special from the outside and nor is it brash like an AMG V8, whether in an AMG or an Aston Martin, but it still has an endearing flat-six tone from inside; lifting off on part throttle elicits an engaging, if quiet, wastegate whistle and the odd exhaust burble.
Power delivery is strong: barely discernible lag and a response rate and output that builds pleasingly so that, despite the torque peak of 391lb ft arriving at only 2300rpm, this is still an engine that’s worth revving out. It’s still also one that doesn’t have the whippy responses of a naturally aspirated unit of old, but maybe the time for complaining about that sort of thing has passed, as it has for the adoption of electrically assisted steering, a longer wheelbase, extra weight, water cooling: all of the ‘it’s improved… but’ caveats that have accompanied 911s past.
Electronically controlled dampers are standard. Dynamic engine mounts are standard. Active rear steer is optional, and fitted to our test cars. Body control is good, but so is the ride, especially considering the paucity of its tyre sidewalls and the 10mm suspension drop that comes with an optional sports chassis our test cars were equipped with (there are quite a lot of options, which mean the 992 becomes a £100,000-plus car very easily).
The dynamics are strong whatever drive mode/damper stiffness level you select. The 992 steers pleasingly – that the front end is relatively lightly loaded generally means, I think, that only a modest level of assistance is needed to make the steering light enough, so road feel filters through that bit more easily than on some alternatives. I doubt any rival, barring a McLaren 570, which is notably more expensive, steers quite as well.
The caveat here is that the 4S is, nonetheless, a poorer steer than the 2S. With power going to the front wheels while there’s never anything you’d describe as genuine torque steer, the steering is less honest, less pure, more corrupted than in a Carrera 2S, whose steering is smoother and more consistent. Both cars are quite willing to turn, with the increased track width bringing brilliant confidence to the front end, but there’s a better agility to the 2S’s cornering, too, of the kind you’ll even feel at moderate road speeds. It is some 50kg lighter, after all. And given where the engine is means the 2S doesn’t exactly struggle for traction, yet is more adjustable and fun, means that I can’t think of many places you’d pick the 4WD car over it.