New York: This week at a series of private events at a corporate “experience centre" outside Los Angeles, Porsche debuted the eighth-generation of its 54-year-old sportscar, the 2020 Porsche 911. Porsche showed the new 911, known internally as 992, in two versions for its world premiere: a two-wheel-drive 911 Carrera S and an all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4S. They each look nearly identical to their predecessors. The main allure of the 992 to Porsche enthusiasts is the bragging rights associated with having the very freshest 911.

Subtle changes, no manual (for now)

Still, it’s accurate to say this latest evolution of the German coupe is more powerful, faster, and sleeker-looking than the earlier versions. It is even rumored to have laid the groundwork for a hybrid 911.

Porsche executives have stopped short of promising a hybrid but have for months said it’s a strong possibility for future 911s. The 992 shows how it could be done: It has a new streamlined eight-speed PDK gearbox (up from seven speeds previously) built in such a way that would easily accommodate a hybrid motor. It also includes space for batteries in the car, should the need arise.

In the meantime, there are several significant, if imperceptible-to-the-casual-eye, additions to titillate the devotees who buy one. Primary among them is the turbocharged flat-six engine that produces 443 horsepower, a 23bhp improvement over previous models.

There’s also the aforementioned brand-new eight-speed PDK dual clutch transmission. That comes standard. Yes, you read that right—if you want a manual version of the new Porsche 911, you’ll just have to wait. No comment from Porsche yet on when they’ll bring out the stick shifts, though a GTS version likely to have one is slated for 2019.

Further, a novel “Wet Mode" will be included as standard equipment on all new 911s. It’s a system that detects water on the road and then adjusts stability control and anti-lock braking. An additional camera-based braking system, adaptive cruise control, and optional night-vision with thermal mapping (available in the 992 for the first time) round out the full extent of the safety upgrade.

Exterior and interior minutiae

As has always been the case with the Stuttgart-based brand, large amounts of time were spent refining small details, especially on the exterior of the car. Overall, it looks subtly rounder and lower than previous generations. This is largely because the car has been widened by nearly two inches over the front wheels and now has large 20-inch front wheels and 21-inch rear wheels, in order to give it a broader sense of control and contact over the road. Those wheel sizes are the same as the current Porsche GT3 and 918 Spyder.

There are also now door handles that lie flush with the side of the car until you need them, at which point they extend out; plus a movable rear spoiler and a seamless bar of brake lights that runs across the back. Most of the panels on the new 992 body are aluminum rather than steel, including the rooftop, the doors, and the front hood—lowering the overall weight.

On the inside of the car, while still evocative of the five-dialled recessed dashboard of the 1970s, the 992 now has two digital screens set on either side of the still-central analogue tachymeter. It has a new centre control screen that is larger than the previous 911 (10.9 inches, up from seven) and a streamlined dashboard and knob configuration that makes it seem slightly more modern than the previous iteration.

But how fast is it?

As for speed, the new rear-wheel-drive 911 Carrera S Coupe can hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The 911 Carrera 4S Coupe, the all-wheel drive version, does it in 3.4 seconds. That makes both versions of the 992 0.4 seconds faster than the previous model. (If you splurge on the optional “Sport Chrono Package," those times drop to 3.3 seconds and 3.2 seconds, respectively.)

Top speed for the Carrera S is 191mph, and it’s 190mph for the 4S. Will you be able to tell the difference in speed between the older and newer versions? Given the placebo effect, most definitely.

The 2020 911 Carrera S starts at $113,200. The 2020 911 Carrera 4S starts at $120,600. They’re on sale now, with deliveries by next summer.

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