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While it’s often cliché to call a car “iconic,” the 2020 Porsche 911 is one of the few cars that truly earns it. The sleek, almost-a-supercar sports coupe has changed a lot over its many generations, yet it stays true to what the 911 has always embodied: power, agility and status. The new generation continues this pedigree, with a familiar shape and driving dynamics, but a gradual evolution in terms of styling and technology.
And, as ever before, the 911 coupe and Cabriolet convertible are more customizable than most cars on the market, but it’ll cost you. There is an almost endless list of features available that enhance performance, convenience and comfort, but you'll find that checking off options boxes will quickly balloon the price by five digits. This is a high-end sports car, so perhaps that doesn't matter, but for the slightly frugal-minded, you've been warned.
What's new for 2020?
The Porsche 911 enters a new generation — with the internal designation 992 — for the 2020 model year. As such, it has updated styling inside and out. It’s slightly wider than before, and boasts a larger, 21-inch rear wheel offering. The door handles are now flush with the body work. All models now have full-width LED rear lighting, whereas only all-wheel-drive models did in the previous generation. Heated seats and an auto-dimming mirror are now standard equipment.
The 911 still uses rear-mounted, twin-turbocharged flat-six engines, but power is up slightly.
The base models gains 9 horsepower, while the Carrera S goes up by 23 horsepower and 22 pound-feet thanks in part to larger turbos, a new intercooler and new injectors. A new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission is standard, though there is a seven-speed manual option for the S models. The 911 also offers a Wet Mode, which adjusts the stability and traction management to improve grip in the rain.
What's the 911 interior and in-car technology like?
The dash, which previously featured a vertical arrangement of binnacles and controls, returns to a more traditional horizontal shape that recalls the wing-like structure from pre-996 era cars. It's an elegant look, making the cabin feel at once spacious and streamlined. A thin strip of upward-facing real estate can be trimmed in materials like leather, carbon fiber, or wood.
Switchgear has also been modified, pairing a simpler interface with a wide touchscreen and five knurled toggles that activate with satisfying clicks. Thankfully the 911 avoids the glass panel haptic setup in the Panamera, retaining the physical feeling of buttons and dials. The big, analog tach remains (albeit subtly redesigned), but it's now flanked by digital screens that are thankfully unobtrusive if slightly blocked by the steering wheel rim. We really appreciate that the 911’s touchscreen menu — like other new Porsches — is configurable, allowing you to put things where you want on the home screen. It also resists glare in the Cabriolet when the roof is down.
How big is the 911?
The Porsche 911 is pretty small. Its front seats will easily accommodate taller drivers, but headroom can be on the rare side, depending on your personal seating position. There are two second-row “seats,” but they’re not suitable for adults. Headroom is essentially nonexistent, and most front passengers will have to adjust out of their preferred seating position to accommodate rear foot- and legroom. We managed to shoehorn a front-facing child seat behind the front passenger seat, but it rendered the front seat unusable.
Basically, think of the 911 as having two seats and a large parcel shelf that's a useful place to put your purse, a couple grocery bags or small dogs. In that way, it's clearly superior to strictly two seaters. As the engine is where the trunk would usually be, the 911 has a front trunk (aka frunk) that can accommodate several grocery bags or a small rolling suitcase.
What's the 911’s performance and fuel economy?
At the heart of every 911 is a rear-mounted flat-six engine. These days, in every model save for the GT3 and GT3 RS (which aren’t available for the 992 generation as of this writing), the engine is assisted by a pair of turbochargers. In the base rear-wheel-drive Carrera and all-wheel-drive Carrera 4, it makes 379 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. With the standard seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission (PDK), these models in the Coupe will do 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds, or 3.8 with the optional Sport Chrono package and its Launch Control function. Add 0.2 seconds to that time for the Cabriolet versions.
The rear-drive S versions have 443 hp and 390 lb-ft. The Carrera S will do 0-60 in 3.4 seconds, and the 4S will do it in 3.5. The Sport Chrono package shaves two tenths of a second of that sprint, while a droptop, again, adds two tenths.
The Carrera S gets 18/24/20 mpg with the PDK, but 17/25/20 with a manual transmission. The 4S, S Cabriolet and 4S Cabriolet get 18/23/20 mpg with the PDK, and 17/24/20 with the manual.
What's the 911 like to drive?
It’s sublime. If you want to experience driving essentially boiled down to its essence in a modern vehicle that’s comfortable enough to daily drive, that’s the 911. Driving the new 911 reveals strong, familiar traits, and the new car's wider stance and its staggered front/rear wheel size lend it a surefootedness that belies its relatively sedate ride (although don't expect the 911 to be as plush a grand tourer as a Lexus LC or BMW 8 Series). Turn-in is crisp and accurate with very little roll. Even in Sport Plus mode, the dampers feel more pliable than their former iteration, aided by new Porsche-calibrated controllers which take into account factors like road condition, vehicle weight and suspension kinematics. Every input is responsive, but without punishing occupants with a harsh ride.
And of course, it is addictively fun to accelerate. We like the raw, mechanic sound from the flat-six, and that giddy feeling in our stomach as the car pulls us forward at something approaching the speed of thought. Shifts from the PDK are quick and crisp and even trust you to do your job when in manual mode. Wait too long or miss a shift with the wheel-mounted paddles and the tach will bounce off the rev limiter. Different driving modes evoke different throttle, shift and ride quality behaviors, but steering always remains the same (kudos to Porsche for that one), and the Wet Mode provides some much appreciated stability when the roads are soggy.
Now, for those days when the roads are bone dry, the 911 Cabriolet comes into its own as one of the best convertibles on the market. Thanks to an ingenious integrated wind deflector that disappears when not needed, the 911 Cab provides an impressively serene environment with the roof down and windows up. When the roof is up, you'll be hard pressed to realize there's just fabric over your head as wind and road noise are impressively quelled.
What more can I read about the Porsche 911?
This drive in Germany was our first crack at the base model of the new 911, and we find that it doesn’t suffer much in the way of fun compared to the more powerful S models.
This was our very first time driving the 992 generation of the Porsche 911, and it’s in the hotter S and 4S trims, which arrived before the base Carreras. We take them for a spin both on road and at the track in Spain.
We drive the new 992 Carrera S and 4S convertibles in Greece, and wring them out on some lovely mountain roads.
Here we detail the very unique opportunity of picking up a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S from the original 911 factory in Stuttgart, driving it on the Autobahn, packing it on a cargo plane, flying with it to the U.S., and then stretching its legs on some of America’s best mountain roads.
What features are available in the 911 and what's the price?
The 2020 Porsche 911 trim lineup starts with the 911 Carrera coupe, and has a base price of $98,750, including the $1,350 destination fee. The 911 Carrera Cabriolet starts at $111,550. Standard equipment and features include 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, summer performance tires, Wet mode Porsche Active Suspension Management, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, parking sensors, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, two USB ports and an eight-speaker sound system. However, there is such an abundance of options available to customize your 911, it's best to direct you to this breakdown of features, pricing and specs here on Autoblog.
2020 Porsche 911 pricing:
- 911 Carrera: $98,750
- 911 Carrera Cabriolet: $111,550
- 911 Carrera 4: $106,050
- 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet: $118,850
- 911 Carrera S: $114,650
- 911 Carrera S Cabriolet: $127,450
- 911 Carrera 4S: $121,950
- 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet: $134,750
What's the 911’s safety equipment and crash ratings?
Standard safety equipment in the Porsche 911 includes the usual airbags, seat belts and LATCH anchors, as well as forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Optional features include lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition, night vision assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and adaptive headlights. Porsche will also sell you a Porsche branded car seat for your child or infant.
The Porsche 911 has not been crash tested by a third party.