Looks familiar doesn’t it? Let’s face it the next 911 was never going to be a radical departure visually from all those that preceded it, Porsche having a proven, and winning formula with its rear-engined sportscar. The disguise, then, isn’t really hiding much, the new 992 series 911 sharing its shapely hips, signature front lights and tapering rear of all 911s, the only real differentiator here being the new recessed light strip spanning across its rear.

That rear will, says August Achleitner, Vice President Product Lines 911/718, be the same width across all Carrera models. There’ll be no width differentiator between rear- or four-wheel drive models now, all Carreras being the same width as the outgoing GTS model. Porsche will introduce the range at the LA auto show in November, where it’ll reveal the 911 Carrera S in coupe form, and specifically in PDK guise.

Naturally, a flurry of models will follow it, the standard Carrera, which should deliver 385hp from the same 3.0-litre flat-six turbo, will come next year, its arrival signalling the introduction of the seven-speed manual to the entire Carrera line up. There’ll be a cabriolet, too, while T, GTS and Targa models will eventually broaden the 911 range in Carrera guise, with Porsche also rolling out higher performance derivatives in Turbo, Turbo S and GT3/GT3 RS guises as the model onslaught gathers pace. Plenty of pace if the rumoured 650hp+ of the Turbo S turns out to be true.

 

 

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That PDK transmission is significant, as, unlike the seven-speed manual, it gains a gear. The gearbox is derived from that of the Panamera, with the shorter shafts leaving space inside the gearbox casing. That’s because Porsche has readied the 992 series 911 for hybridisation, Achleitner saying: “the rear of the gearbox is empty in preparation for hybridisation in the future, not the next few years, we are waiting for the batteries to improve.”

That’s significant, and it’s driven a lot of the development of the 992, even if we’ll be waiting for a while before hybrid 911s are in showrooms. The gearbox is about 20kg heavier, Porsche striving to keep the 992’s weigh the same as its 991 predecessor. There’s more aluminium in its structure as a result, saving around 15kg overall. Ever-tougher emissions and consumption regulations mean the 992’s engine’s been heavily revised. It remains a 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six, though there’s new injectors, a revised intake system, new turbos, shifted intercoolers and a new exhaust system.

In the Carrera S the promise is of 450hp, 530Nm, which will be a enough for a sub-4.0 second 0-62mph time and a top speed in excess of 190mph. Sitting alongside the engineers while they drive for final testing in and around San Francisco the 3.0-litre turbo engine’s performance is illuminating, the immediacy of response and the mighty low-rev shove delivering huge performance. The exhaust sounds great too, crackling on the overrun, and filling the cabin with a rich intense flat-six sound under heavy acceleration.

That relentless performance is backed with some sizeable changes to the chassis. There’s a new means of linking the engine to the body structure, it making the entire car stiffer, Achleitner admitting that while that’s beneficial in the coupe, it’ll be even more so in the convertible. There’s staggered wheel sizes too, the Carrera S riding on a 20in front wheel, with a 21in wheel at the rear covered with 245/35 ZR20 and 305/30 ZR21 tyres.

 

 

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That, and a wider front track, by 40mm, aid the 911’s agility, Achleitner saying that the wider front allows the 911 to generate even greater cornering forces, and higher stability. That’s obvious on the testing roads, the turn in response being immediate, the suspension mixing fine control and a good ride comfort on the PASM suspension, while refinement, particularly relating to tyre noise has improved significantly, too.

With its hybrid preparation it’s a 911 for the future, the 992’s introduction also signalling the arrival of driver aids new to Porsche’s sports car range. There’ll be Lane Keeping Assist a Lane Departure Warning System and the option of Night Vision, it displayed on one of the screens situated either side of the large analogue rev counter directly in front of the driver. Such assistance systems are a creep towards autonomy, but as Achleitner states: “I think the 911 will be one of the last cars which will be offered with an autonomous system, in my opinion autonomous driving comes on a higher level from generation to generation, but as long as it’s possible to switch it off then it’s fine.”

Another system working to help you will be the Wet mode, this automatically activating when acoustic sensors sense a wet surface. It primes the stability systems, as well as changes the PDK’s shift strategy and the angle of attack of the rear spoiler, this happening automatically, the driver able to select it via the driver settings, too, where it sits with the now familiar Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual driver settings.

As with any 911 the new car will offer a plethora of options, with everything from a Sport Chassis, Sport Chrono Pack, Rear-wheel steering, PCCB brakes or new Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB) making the Carrera almost infinitely configurable to your wants and needs. On evidence of our ride along it’s retained all the 911 hallmarks of usability mated with explosive performance and engaging agility, and we’ll find out ourselves early next year when we get to sit in the correct seat and drive it.