Car Reviews

2020 Porsche 911 First Look: Daring to Mess With Success

Carrera S and 4S models debut with 443 hp

Carrera S and 4S models debut with 443 hp

During our 2018 Best Driver’s Car competition, international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie called the Porsche 911 GT2 RS “the ultimate 911. For now.” Because a replacement for the 991 generation was imminent, and because Porsche is always cooking up increasingly potent variants of its flagship sports car, that caveat was necessary. The next-gen 2020 Porsche 911 is now here, potentially setting the stage for a new “ultimate 911.”

As expected based on spy shots and teasers, the internally code-named 992-generation Porsche 911 very subtly builds on the iconic shape that defines the model. Unless you place the 992 alongside its predecessor, you might not notice the redesigned LED headlights, restyled front and rear bumpers, flush electric door handles, or slimmer taillights with full-width LED bar. You might also miss the wider wheel arches that increase overall width by 1.8 inches in the front and grow the rear to the same width as the previous Carrera 4 and GTS (72.9 inches). The bigger wheel arches additionally accommodate a 1.6-inch wider front track. Another thing you won’t notice unless you carry a magnet around with you: Every body panel on the new 911 is made of aluminum.

Although the 992’s styling continues to look familiar, as is usually the case when a new 911 debuts, many of the changes can be found beneath the sheetmetal. At the Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles, California, the Stuttgart-based automaker revealed the Carrera S and 4S variants of the 2020 Porsche 911. Those models get an upgraded version of the current twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six, which has been tuned to 443 hp (up 23 hp from the outgoing S models). That gain comes from an improved piezo fuel injection process, a higher 10.5:1 compression ratio, and relocated turbochargers and intercoolers. The revised engines are paired to a new eight-speed PDK twin-clutch transmission as standard, but Porsche hasn’t given up on its row-your-own fans just yet. A seven-speed manual will be available at a later date, Porsche promises.

Thanks to those changes and potentially others not detailed in the press release, Porsche estimates the rear-wheel-drive 2020 Carrera S can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, while the all-wheel-drive 4S is said to do the deed in 3.4 seconds. Those numbers represent improvements of 0.4 second over the previous versions, though a 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S needed just 3.1 seconds to hit 60 mph in our tests. With the optional Sport Chrono package equipped, the estimates each shrink by two tenths of a second. Meanwhile, top track speed is pegged at 191 mph (307 km/h) for the Carrera S and 190 mph (306 km/h) for the 4S.

Improving performance is among a 911 engineer’s top priorities, but technology was another major focus with the 992. As we first learned during our 911 prototype drive earlier this year, Porsche has developed a feature called Wet Mode that detects water on the road and prepares the stability control and anti-lock brake systems to deal with the change in driving conditions. Porsche says Wet Mode will be standard across the 911 lineup. The 911 also receives standard automatic emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control continues to be an option, and still offers automatic distance control, stop-and-go capability, and an Emergency Assist function that automatically primes the brakes in anticipation of a sudden stop. For the first time, Night Vision Assist will be available on the 911. As its name implies, the feature uses a thermal imaging camera to give the driver a clearer view when traveling a dark road.

Though you may not immediately recognize the new 911 from the outside, you should be able to tell new from old once you see the interior. Porsche says it was inspired by the 911s of the 1970s when it styled the 992’s cabin, which explains the dashboard’s straight, simplified lines and recessed instruments. The center console features a minimalist climate control setup and gets a unique electronic gear selector that kind of resembles an electric shaver. Meanwhile, the gauge cluster gets a large central tachometer flanked by two frameless information displays.

Because Porsche is introducing the S and 4S models first, and presumably there will be a base Carrera and Carrera 4 eventually, we don’t know the 2020 Porsche 911’s true starting price. The 2020 Carrera S will start at $114,250 USD, including $1,050 USD destination charge, while the 4S will start at $121,650 USD. Those prices represent increases of $8,100 USD and $8,600 USD, respectively, so it’s highly possible the base 911’s starting price could cross into six-figure territory when it arrives. The S and 4S models hit dealerships in summer 2019, and can be ordered now.

The 991 is the only car to score back-to-back wins in the history of our Best Driver’s Car competition, with the Carrera S winning in its debut year of 2012 and the Carrera 4S crowned in 2013. In the years following, 991-generation 911s have competed four times, always landing on the podium. The 992 clearly has some big shoes to fill, and we can’t wait to find out if the 911 can get any better.