Externally at least, the second-generation 991 reverts to type. When Porsche talks of the elimination of door handle recess covers as the most ‘eye-catching’ feature of the new car’s profile, you can be certain of the facelift’s sensitivity.

Marginal items – the front spoiler lip, front and rear lights – have been tweaked, but it’s subtle stuff that would take a side-by-side comparison to spot.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
The rear spoiler has vents under it to increase airflow into the engine, neatly avoiding any ugly apertures

Predictably, the more significant alterations have been forced on the designers by the requirements of the new engineering challenges beneath.

The two low-mounted turbochargers require plenty of additional cooling, so at the rear there’s a substantial and entirely new air intake system complete with a new grille and the extra vents required to chill the intercoolers now stationed at the extremities.

Even the new active aerodynamics – a tech carryover from the 918 Spyder – can be deployed to assist with heat management, the variable rear spoiler being extendable at low speeds so that more air might find its way inside the engine bay when operating temperatures are high.

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The lump within, while retaining a horizontally opposed cylinder layout, is all-new. The higher specific power of forced induction means its predecessor’s displacement can be reduced even as outputs are increased.

Turbocharging also lends itself to tuning, so whereas 3.4- and 3.8-litre engines were previously required to offer differentiation between the Carrera and Carrera S, now the job may be done by a single twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat six, albeit one with slightly larger compressors in S trim.

In base format, it develops 365bhp; as tested here, it’s at 414bhp. Both are a 20bhp improvement over their forebears and are capable of revving to 7500rpm (although their performance peaks at 6500rpm). The real boon, though, as you might expect, is in torque delivery.

Here, a 44lb ft advantage is rendered across the board, with the Carrera S now delivering 369lb ft – 30lb ft more than Porsche extracted from the previous engine even in its exotic 4.0-litre GT3 RS guise.

Crucially, all this extra impetus appears much sooner. Where the previous 991 required 5600rpm in order to maximise its potential, the new unit, now endowed with a centralised injector, lightened valve train and variable exhaust camshaft, conjures its greater yield from just 1700rpm.

As for the rest of the 911 line-up - there is the Carrera T, which in essence is a stripped back version of the Carrera designed with the intention of being a tourer. As a result Porsche has given the T a subtle exterior makeover and put it on a weight-loss programme. Following on from the Carrera S is the GTS models - claimed to be the most focussed 911 in the standard range, which means the 3.0-litre engine's wick has been turned up further to produce 443bhp, but its the tweaks made dynamically that makes the GTS the driver's choice.

Heading the 'Motorsport' end of the 911 spectrum is the Turbo and Turbo S, both are fitted with a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre engine punching out 532bhp and 572bhp propelling them to 198mph and 205mph respectively. For those looking for a more track-focussed car are greeted by two choices. The first is the GT3 powered by a 493bhp, naturally aspirated, 4.0-litre flat six, which has won our driver's car of the year ahead of the McLaren 720S and Aston Martin DB11 V8, should indicate how capable it really is. Topping the range is different beast entirely - the 911 GT2 RS - designed to compete with the Lamborghini Huracan Performante and the Ferrari Speciale models. Planted at the rear is a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre engine punching out a scarcely believable 690bhp helping propel this 911-shaped ballastic missile to 62mph in 2.8sec and onto 211mph.

Porsche has lengthened the gear ratios on its seven-speed transmission to suit the new-found amenability and introduced a two-disc clutch to the manual version to make it easier to operate. Tellingly, the dual-mass flywheel also gets a centrifugal pendulum to help temper drivetrain vibrations, making the 911 more refined when accelerating from low revs in higher ratios. It is also important to point out that the GT3 has also returned in manual form too.

If the above indicates something of a fundamental shift in Porsche driving style, the modifications to the chassis are of the more conventional sort.

The facelifted car sits 10mm lower on now-standard PASM adaptive suspension, gets rebound buffer springs all round and acquires half an inch of extra tyre width at the back to cope with the extra torque. Active rear-wheel steering (introduced in the 991 GT3 and Turbo) and a front axle nose-raiser have also been added to the typically extensive options list. 

The new turbocharged units have been utilised across the Carrera board with the coupé, the roof-less Targa and the full-blown wind in your hair Cabriolet all benefitting. While those wanting an all-wheel-drive 911 can choose from the 4 range.

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