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2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Michael Harley February 2019

Porsche debuted a new, 8th-generation, 911 for the 2020 model year. The German automaker will initially introduce just two models -- the Carrera S and the Carrera 4S -- of the celebrated sports car, which is known internally as the Type 992. The Carrera S is rear-wheel drive, while the Carrera 4S is fitted with a permanent all-wheel-drive system that improves performance in the dry and during inclement weather. Future variants of the Porsche 911, including the Carrera, the GTS, the GT and the RS, will be introduced over the next couple years.

To prevent fixing something that isn't broken, Porsche has wisely retained the iconic 911 shape and performance that has defined the rear-engine vehicle for more than 50 years, but this year's new model elevates the sports car's technical innovation and luxury to meet today's expectations of the premium segment's discerning buyers.

New Aluminum-Intensive 8th-Generation Model

While the 2020 Porsche 911 may not look dissimilar from its predecessor at first glance, its new body panels are crafted from lightweight aluminum, there are new subtle character lines, and all Carrera models now boast the "wide body" chassis -- this improves handling and makes room for future hybrid technology. The rear wing is now significantly larger, stretching across the rear deck, and the wheels are now staggered in size (20 inches in the front and 21 inches in the rear) to further refine handling. A new front and rear fascia improve cooling and aerodynamics, and the side door handles now electronically retract when the vehicle is locked.

Redesigned Passenger Cabin Boasts Premium Appointments

The driver-centric cabin of the 2020 Porsche 911 is a major leap forward in terms of technology and premium appointments. The driver faces a traditional chronograph-like analog tachometer -- a signature feature on every 911 Porsche since 1963 -- but it is flanked by a pair of multi-function digital displays. A large 10.9-in multi-function display sits prominently at the top of the center console, with the transmission lever and secondary controls on the tall center console between the two front passengers -- the look is reminiscent of the automaker's flagship Porsche Panamera sedan.

Overall, the layout is clean and the standard materials are first-rate -- keep in mind that Porsche's options list is extensive, meaning customers may choose from dozens of leather colors, real wood, painted trim and carbon fiber to appoint the cabin. The redesigned front seats are impressively supportive (the rear seats are best for small kids or groceries) and ergonomics are commendable. However, we noted that the thick sport steering wheel blocked a few of the instrument panel's digital gauges.

New 911 Is Offered With a Full Suite of Technology and Driver-Assist Features

In addition to three different audio systems (standard, Bose and Burmester), Porsche fits the 2020 911 with a comprehensive suite of innovation and safety systems. These include camera-assisted warnings, automatic emergency braking and an available adaptive cruise control with an advanced stop-and-go feature for heavy traffic. In addition, Porsche is offering lane-change assist, lane-keeping assist, park assist, night vision assist and the Porsche Connect app for Apple- and Android-powered smartphones -- owners may access many features and functions of the 911 remotely.

Porsche Improves the Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-Liter Engine and PDK Transmission

Last year's twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter flat six returns, but it has been extensively reworked for 2020. Enhancements include larger turbochargers (that are mirrored, not identical), electronically controlled wastegate valves and repositioning the intercoolers for a shorter intake run. The new engine is rated at 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque -- it is significantly stronger than last year's model.

The 911's transmission has been upgraded from a 7-speed "PDK" dual-clutch gearbox to an 8-speed unit with new ratios that improve off-the-line acceleration and fuel economy. Porsche notes that the 8-speed PDK is larger than its predecessor, which was necessary to fit a future hybrid module.

Stronger Performance Dynamics and Innovative Wet Mode Improves Driving on Slippery Surfaces

Quicker steering and tweaks in the suspension (e.g., the standard adaptive dampers now work in both rebound and compression) ensures that the 2020 911 handles better than ever before -- we found it nearly unflappable on both the public roads and racing track. Four-wheel steering, which helps to decrease the turning radius, increase stability and hasten turn-in, is optional -- active roll bars are on the options list, too.

Porsche is the first automaker to introduce Wet Mode, which is a sophisticated system that uses ultrasonic sensors to listen to the amount of water on the road. When the system detects the potential for hydroplaning, a warning appears on the dashboard suggesting that the driver turn the driving mode dial to Wet Mode. When activated, the pitch on the rear wing rises to improve downforce while Porsche Stability Management (PSM) and Porsche Traction Management (PTM) are recalibrated for the slippery conditions. In addition, throttle response is flattened and two PSM modes (OFF and PSM Sport) are unavailable.

Available in the Summer of 2019

Porsche has unquestionably improved its 911 sports car with the launch of the new 8th-generation model. The performance envelope has been expanded outward in every direction, and occupants are treated to unexpected levels of technology, luxury and safety. When it goes on sale in the summer of 2019, the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S will have a base price of $114,250 (including $1,050 destination). The 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S will start at $121,650 (including $1,050 destination).

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle's manufacturer.

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2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S: First Drive Review - Autotrader