The Porsche 911 Carrera S has gotten a bit ahead of itself. It is, if you ask Porsche, or pretty much anyone else for that matter, supposed to be a sports car. But lately, the 911 has been busy ‘accidentally’ spilling the pints of the supercar establishment, determined to kick off a fight at the local watering hole.
At least, that’s how it looks from the figures. Spec a Carrera 4S with Sport Chrono, and 62mph will arrive from rest in 3.4 seconds, just a tenth off the most recent 911 GT3. Use the launch control function, and you can forget about fully functioning facial muscles for the next 30 minutes or so.
It has immense capability to go along with the straight-line lunacy too, meaning the 992 has the teeth to snap at the carbonfibre heels of pricier, more exotic beats like the McLaren 570S and Audi R8. But should it? Is that really the 911’s job, or is the 992 another victim of the performance car realm’s increasingly ridiculous obsession with power? Perhaps, but the good news is there’s now an antidote: the base Carrera.
It’s powered by the same ‘9A2’ turbocharged flat-six as the S, but the boost pressure has been turned way down. It develops 385bhp versus the 444bhp managed by its bigger brother. That’s a 15bhp bump relative to the 991.2 Carrera, but the increase isn’t enough to prevent the gap between the Carrera brothers from being the biggest it’s ever been.
There’s a 64bhp deficit here, and the drop shoves the 992 firmly back where it belongs - sports car territory. It’s far from slow, of course. Even in the slower rear-wheel drive version, our weapon of choice at the launch in Germany, 0-62mph is over and done with in four seconds dead (again, with Sport Chrono). It just doesn’t have that eye-widening, intestine-scrambling turn of pace felt in the S.
Instead, it allows you to spend more time at full throttle. and gives more opportunities to hunt down the rev limiter. The Carrera is much more in tune with road driving and doesn’t leave you yearning for the next track day to arrive so you can fully let it off the leash. We’d need a back-to-back test to see just how big the difference is, but it might just be a little more responsive too. Lag is barely perceptible in the S, but here, it seems to have been banished entirely.
Going with the sharp throttle response and the linear charge up to the 7500rpm redline, there’s still plenty of mid-range go to make the Carrera incredibly flexible. You don’t need to go up and down the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox all that much, but should you fancy some cog swapping, the PDK gearbox will always oblige with brutal enthusiasm. The gear you want is a mere squeeze of an aluminium paddle away. Even the action of the shifters themselves is spot-on.
The chassis is broadly the same, although you can’t option either four-wheel steer or the 10mm lower Sport chassis, both of which are on the configurator for the S. It leaves the factory on smaller, slightly narrower wheels, although the one we drove had the 20-inch front/21-inch rear rims of the pokier 992 fitted as an option.
As a consequence, it drove much the same as the range-topper. Which is no bad thing - we’re talking about immense high-speed stability, virtually unflappable rear-end traction, and the best, most natural-feeling electric power steering in the business. Traditional 911 understeer - a byproduct of its stubborn rear-mount engine position - is still there, but you need to dig much deeper to find it than in any previous Carrera.
So far, so flawless. It’s normally at this point when reviewing a performance car that I’d have a pop at the infotainment system or the interior, but I can’t even do that. I’d prefer a tactile rotary controller rather than having to rely on a 10.9-inch touchscreen, but in time, you should be able to learn your way around it.
The icing on the cake is the price - starting at £82,793, it’s around £10,000 cheaper than the S. The gap might close a bit when you factor in the more generous factory spec of the latter car, but whatever. Go for the 911 that’s a better fit for the real world. Go for the 911 that doesn’t give a shit about raw numbers, while leaving you with extra cash to spend on fuel, tyres, track days or whatever you fancy. Go for the 911 Carrera.