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Unmistakable for any other car, Porsche’s eighth-generation 911 continues the signature. (Porsche)

Porsche practices the art of updating with the eighth-generation 911

Regularly updating and evolving the Porsche 911’s aesthetic signature might seem an impossible task. But more than half a century after its birth, the unveiling of the eighth-generation at the 2018 LA Auto Show demonstrated that it is in fact still a totally possible art—with design boss Michael Mauer the chief artist. 

And there is further technology evolution beneath the 2020 911’s curves, involving engine, chassis, connectivity—and an innovation described as a world first: Wet Mode for added safety. 

Designated in-house as the 992 series and slightly larger than the outgoing 991, it is launched in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive forms—Carrera S and Carrera 4S—and now only in the wide-body width previously used for the Carrera 4 GT3 and GTS, instead of two widths. Across the nose, the new 911 is 45 mm (1.8 in) wider than the outgoing version, a figure some 911 purists may look at askance, as growth in recent years has already been considerable. 

Transmission for either 911 variant is a choice of 7-speed manual or new 8-speed PDK dual-clutch automated manual. The engine is, of course, a rear mounted flat-six (to change that position and cylinder configuration would see those purists suffering mental and physical agony), turbocharged and now delivering 331 kW (443 hp), upped by 23 hp (17 kW) to give a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 3.7s for the rear-drive, 3.6s for the 4S. For those who take such things to the ultimate, the optional Sport Chrono Package shaves off another 0.2s.  

Top speed now is 308 km/h (191mph) for the S and a more-modest 306 km/h (190mph) for the AWD 4S. The engine’s extra power is attributed to some fresh fuel-injection technology, a “new arrangement” for the twin turbochargers and charge-air cooling system. There is yet no plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) variant—but Porsche promises it will come. 

At present, Porsche is being tantalizingly quiet regarding full and precise technology details for the new-generation 911, including more extensive use of aluminum in its platform, dimension of its wheelbase and weight. 

Wet Mode 
Electronic systems such as Night Vision Assist via thermal imaging and adaptive cruise control with automatic distance control are joined by “Wet Mode,” a further driver-support feature, helping to manage the 911’s behavior on—not surprisingly—wet roads.

Fitted as standard, Porsche said this about Wet Mode: “It detects water on the road, preconditions the control systems accordingly and warns the driver, who can then set up the vehicle for a particular emphasis on safety by simply pushing a button or using the mode switch on the steering wheel when Sport Chrono Package is specified.  The warning and brake assist systems, also fitted as standard, detect the risk of collisions with moving objects. Emergency braking is initiated if necessary.” Dynamics of early air-cooled 911s driven very quickly on wet roads could (and can) surprise but not necessarily delight drivers with sudden wayward cornering behavior. A maxim for their drivers was/is: “Rule one: don’t lift off (the throttle). Rule 2: always obey rule one.”  

Homage styling
While the general signature of the 992 harks back to Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche’s original styling, the latest iteration has distinctive aspects that delineate it from Generation 7. These include three large frontal air intakes, wider wheel housings (20 in wheels front, 21 in rear), LED matrix headlights and a front hood with a more pronounced recess, very much an early 911 feature. Side elevation changes include flush-mounted, electrically-operated door handles to achieve a small aerodynamic benefit. There is yet no overall Cd figure for the car.  

At the rear, there’s a wide, deployable spoiler, below it a light bar that has become a Porsche design cue to achieve easily identifiable down-road graphics. 
As for the interior, it is another step forward in luxury and technology, with a 10.9-in (277-mm) center screen. The dashboard revives early 911 styling with recessed instruments and Porsche’s traditional centrally-mounted rev counter, flanked by two thin frameless digital displays. 

The 992 911 also introduces three apps: “Road Trip; 360+”; and the worryingly labeled “Impact”. The first supports planning, organizing, and navigating “special trips”, which include posh hotels and restaurant recommendations, plus points of interest; the second is described as a personal lifestyle assistant “to make everyday life easier and exclusive experiences possible” (again, not much detail); while “Impact” turns out to be an emissions calculator. Explains Porsche: “It calculates the financial contributions that Porsche customers can pay to offset their CO2 footprint. They can choose the internationally certified climate projects in which to invest.” These include wind, hydro and solar power, plus forest protection. 

Something to ponder as the owner flips open the fender-top refueling flap access to the front-positioned fuel tank—another traditional feature to soothe the purist’s mind.  Continue reading »