Porsche’s first and foremost model remains the essential experience of a sports car – even in driving-fun-diminished Singapore
Marketing taglines are usually about as believable as a small-handed, orange tyrant.
Even Porsche gets it wrong sometimes – no matter what a sports utility vehicle (SUV) isn’t a sports car – but it’s no surprise that with the new 911, the German sports car maker is spot on with its catchphrase.
The company’s tagline for its linchpin model is ‘Timeless machine’, though given the updates to the 911, ‘Timeliness machine’ applies just as equally.
By now Big Dave Khoo has endured driving the 911 at its international debut, and Ju-Len tested it out in the land that doesn’t exist on some maps (NZ) – get the full skinny by reading those articles on CarBuyer.com.sg before proceeding.
In brief, the design and interior are all new, the platform is essentially the same, but updated, along with the drivetrain, which accounts for why this is codenamed 992, compared to the previous 991.2 model.
Identifying the new car is, as usual, not that easy from the front. The classic round headlights and square bonnet are intact, with the daytime running lights in the same place as well, though they’re thinner. Overall the front end has been cleaned up, as you can see from the black vertical slats on the air intakes that it appear one cohesive piece.
A bigger difference is in the derriere, like the Panamera and Cayenne there’s now a full-width lightbar, though given the curvature of the rear it’s almost more of an arc than a bar.
It looks great, set off nicely by the new ‘Porsche’ 3D lettering and the grille above it.
All in all the 911 looks superb in the way it always has, understated but worth many a second glance, and the new rear end amps up the visual drama.
Thankfully the 911 hasn’t grown that much either. The big dimensional change is that now the base 911s (Carrera ‘2’ and Carrera 4) all have the widebody stance that was only found on more powerful 911s of the previous generation, such as the 911 Turbo.
Rock up to the driver’s door and you’ll notice another nice touch: Flush door handles. They look great, and are made possible by finger sensors – you touch your fingers to the underside and the handles pop out, although it must be said that the engagement isn’t always consistent.
The low seating position isn’t just your imagination – the new 911 is almost 13mm lower than the previous model – and puts you into an immediately-fitting sports car state of mind, as if to say ‘You’re driving THE Porsche now, no high rise seating position nonsense’.
Despite the new literal low, the 911 still remains what it always has been – a very daily-driveable sports car. At approximately 4.5-metres long, it’s still relatively short overall, somewhere between a BMW 1 Series and 3 Series in length, though it’s almost as wide as a 5 Series, to give you an idea of the dimensions.
The driving position remains excellent, too.
Visibility is great, the wheel is perfectly tilted toward you, the high-slope of the centre console leaves driving switches and the gearshifter in easy reach – though we do lament that it looks like a vestigial nub rather than a proper stick in what is supposed to be a driver’s car.
Still, Porsche’s continued its uptick in cabin quality, it now looks and feels wholly premium, which isn’t something you could say two generations ago, and the overall ergos are solid – unlike say the Aston Martin Vantage, which leaves a driver warm and windblasted with its oven-like cabin.
The slick new touchscreen infotainment system is, like all poke-n-stroke setups, lovely in appearance and great to use when not moving, but distracting on the move.
Thankfully, Porsche has retained the driving modes and tweaks as physical buttons, though they are tied to cost optional upgrades In this case, adaptive suspension (aka PASM S$3,827) and anti-roll (PDCC, S$13,073), while the Sport Chrono Pack (S$9,465) adds the selectable mode switch on the wheel, Sport Plus mode, and the on-dash chronograph.
Porsche hasn’t ditched conventional instruments just yet, but gone half-digital – four of the five dials from the 911’s classic quintuple instrument panel are digital screens now. It works well to deliver information – such as navigation – but we preferred the 991.2’s layout which retained the five physical dials, and the optional GT Sport steering wheel while nice to hold and great for driving, blocks the outer screens from your view.
But on the whole, it’s remarkably easy to get to grips with the 911 in Singapore. There’s never any doubt about where your wheels are going, even if you’re just creeping around carparks. The low ride height means you will scrape the sacrificial underplastics in multi-storey carparks, even when going dead slow, but you have much less fear than in other sports or supercars.
Much of that is down to the all-wheel steering – a S$9,162 option, which makes parking and U-turns easy as pie, and you almost never have to worry about kerbing your rear wheels when making sharp turns.
Pair that with the surprisingly roomy 132-litre front boot and vestigial rear seats (foldable) and you have a rather practical vehicle. Pair that with the fact that the suspension is supremely comfortable (despite the road noise and booming turbo soundtrack) even beating out many sedans and crossovers, and the 911 is the sort of car you see the charm in every single day.
This focus on the mundane may sound paradoxical, but it’s a key part of what has made the 911 what it is. And it’s not to say the 911 isn’t fast, enjoyable, and all things a driver wants and needs in one complete package.
As CarBuyer has noted, the Porsche magic is encapsulated best by the feeling from behind the wheel, and as a brand that feeling is remarkably consistent, no matter if you’re driving a plug-in hybrid shooting brake, mid-engined two-seater, big SUV or small SUV.
That’s in full bloom in the Carrera. The delicacy and precision of the steering, the analogue nature of the car’s behaviour even with all of its electronics, that is all still very much in full force.
Turn up the wick and the 911 is wickedly, ruthlessly fast. The ‘4S’ denotes all-wheel drive and more power than the normal Carrera (450hp vs 385hp), and with the Sport Chrono Package bringing the 0-100km/h time down further to a very rapid 3.6-seconds.
Yet it still works with you to get there as well, you’re never just along for the ride, and there’s something simply right-feeling about it, like the 911s before. Keeping in mind the mundane bit again, it simply feels lovely to drive no matter what the speed – something that’s increasingly rare, even in lesser cars.
As usual, driving a Porsche is a privilege for those deep of pocket, and to get it the way you want will require even more – the base price is S$584k without a COE, and this car packs S$107k worth of options, enough to buy you a Kia Cerato GT Line with change. Even the non all-wheel drive Carrera begins at S$479k, sans certificate.
The RS Spyder Design wheels (20-inch front, 21-inch rear) are a S$9,490 option.
In other words, the 911 is more expensive than it’s ever been, but it’s fair considering this Carrera 4S model performs like a previous-gen GTS variant.
We can leave some of the ergonomic quibbles, and the digitisation, but we’ll take the driving experience wholeheartedly because as this car proves, there’s still nothing quite like a Porsche 911.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
|Engine||2,981cc, flat six, turbocharged|
|Power||450hp at 6500rpm|
|Torque||530Nm at 2300-5000rpm|
|Top Speed||3.6 seconds (as driven)|
|VES Band / CO2||C2 / 219g/km|
|Price||S$584,088 without COE, options|