Redesigned 2020 Porsche 911 Proves Its Mettle
This latest version of the iconic sports car is immensely capable and civilized
The Porsche 911 is an iconic rear-engined coupe that has dominated race tracks, starred in movies, and inhabited country clubs since 1964. Other than a Jeep Wrangler, there's probably no other currently available car that’s as identifiable.
The current generation (known as 992 in Porsche parlance) debuted for the 2020 model year. We rented one from Porsche to get a feel for it. This latest 911 Carrera doesn’t stray much from the established format, but it ups the ante on the infotainment system and advanced driving assistance features. The dual-clutch automatic transmission, now standard equipment, moves from a seven-speed to an eight-speed unit. A seven-speed manual transmission can be ordered on the uplevel Carrera S as a no-cost option. (This is the first 911 where a manual is not available on the base model.)
As before, both coupe and convertible body styles are offered, and each can be had with all-wheel drive. And just like every new generation of any Porsche model, the price keeps climbing.
CR has a history of testing the 911 spanning from the 1967 edition through the modern era with 2006 and 2014 vintages. We found previous generations of the 911 to be terrific sports cars that also can serve as decent daily drivers. Historically, it’s a performance car that can corner and brake on a dime, shoot into the horizon with an invigorating bellow, and still ride reasonably comfortably. You also can count on a 911 to provide a token of practicality, decent outward visibility, and palatable fuel economy.
Whether on road or a track, the way the 911 tackles corners is fantastic. The body stays planted with hardly any roll. Turn-in response is immediate, yet the car doesn’t feel darty. The steering communicates candid feedback regarding the pavement texture and cornering loads. The car has an uncanny ability to traverse wrinkled and undulating pavement, staying completely unperturbed.
If you are lucky enough to take the 911 to a track and turn up the volume, you’ll discover that it exhibits tenacious grip and gobbles up corners in an astonishing manner. It remains stable and predictable even when exploring the edges of its performance envelope, where it very gradually and controllably shows an onset of a tail slide. The handling truly is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel. It puts a smile on your face and can make anyone behind the wheel feel like a Formula One driver. Sport Plus mode lessens the reins of the electronic stability control and allows for some controlled fun. But we wish Porsche would take a page from the Chevrolet Corvette playbook and create a "competitive mode," which lets the car exhibit a controlled tail slide for more thrills.
Throttle response is immediate, delivering rapid forward thrust that’s accompanied by a melodious soundtrack. The turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder boxer engine (cylinders are horizontally opposed) produces 379 horsepower. Porsche claims a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.8 seconds. Our last 911, a 2014 model with a non-turbo 3.8-liter engine and seven-speed manual, posted 4.1 seconds.
The 911 comes standard with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It has the inner anatomy of a manual gearbox, but the driver interface is like that of an automatic. We were quite surprised that most of us didn’t feel cheated to not have a traditional manual transmission. Shifts are quick, direct, and smooth. When you dial the handy little knob on the steering wheel to Sport or Sport Plus modes, shifts get a bit more aggressive and occur at higher revs. It feels like someone is doing the shifting for you. You can also choose Manual mode and use the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel rim to orchestrate your own shifting.