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Another Porsche 911. Oh good. Enter the automotive corner of the internet and few things stir up as much debate. Unless you’ve ever experienced a 911 directly, it’s easy to assume that because it looks the same as before – and, indeed, ever – you’d buy a Vantage, R8 or AMG GT simply to stand out. But that’d mean missing out on – perhaps – the world’s greatest sports car. This is the brand-new 992-generation 911, and we’ve driven it in Britain for the first time. Our first impressions of the car overseas were already very favourable, but now we’ve negotiated wet, crappy roads in one, we might be even more smitten. How so? It has a simply staggering breadth of ability. The 911 always has, combining a compact footprint (relatively speaking) with proper practicality, a sprinkling of luxury and proper, old-fashioned fun. The 992 has upped the game in every single area.
Okay, it’s no more compact – it’s wider at the rear and the front overhang’s longer, in fact – but it’s still as easy to peer out of as a VW Up and comes with some parking cameras that react with such lightning speed, they’re at least as reliable as your own eyes. This is rarer than you might hope. The interior fit, finish and choice of materials is knocking on Bentley’s door, and Porsche has arguably balanced its use of techy screens and physical buttons better than anyone, not least because a big, fat analogue rev counter remains front and central to appease the moany nerds (like me). And this remains a car with back seats that actual humans can fit in, especially if they’re small ones. Get to the fun stuff. What’s so extraordinary about this latest 911, though, is just how subtly integrated its vast array of chassis tech is. For all the spec sheet’s talk of PTV, PASM and PADM, the engineers haven’t forgotten about the PDFT (Porsche-driving fleshy thing) behind the wheel. In fact, that comes first and foremost. Porsche has long nailed the tactility of its cars, and the feel and weight it can extract from a new-fangled electric power steering system is surely only possible via the use of actual magic. While those various systems help keep the car gripping tenaciously and moving effortlessly, the PDFT still needs to get stuck in if they want to extract the best from it. Reassuring, as the rest of the car world chases semi-autonomy. Which one should I buy? There are just two choices for now: the 450bhp Carrera S and 4S, respectively with rear- and four-wheel drive. And while a whole slew of GTSs, GT3s, Turbos (and more) will follow, it’s hard to argue for any of them needing to be any quicker than this, at least as a road car. It’ll rev to a healthy 7,500rpm – lots for a modern turbo engine – but the flat-six is conspicuously forced induction thanks to its hisses and whistles as you apply or lift off the throttle pedal. It sounds pretty beguiling, though. Stonking low-down torque actually makes the Carrera 4S more desirable than ever, and in ropey weather it feels unflappable. In tamer use, it sends 95 per cent of its power to the rear wheels, but the split can head towards 50/50 if needed. It feels fool-proof, but will still give you all the playfulness you ever need on the road if you provoke it. Mind, the £5,000-cheaper Carrera S doesn’t especially struggle for grip. All Carreras come with a ‘Wet’ setting on the driving mode dial. The car, with notable spookiness, will even tell you when it thinks the road’s sopping enough to make its application worthwhile. By listening out for splashing via sensors in the wheel arches, since you ask. Eerie. Any good? It works as well – and as subtly – as every other system. But the car is so terrifically tactile, even with its safety systems loosened, you might relish a bit of damp weather to lower its limits and indulge in its fine, fine balance. You’re still aware the engine is in the back, it’s just more easily tamed than ever. Oh, and there’s just one gearbox for now, a new eight-speed PDK automatic. An extra ratio means second finally redlines below the national speed limit, so at least you can legally ring more than one gear out now. It reacts impressively sharply just left in Drive, but to truly grab the 911 by the scruff of its neck you’ll start flicking the paddles without a thought. There’s mild disappointment that, even in Sport Plus mode, the changes never properly bang home, favouring silky smoothness over a jolt in the back. But given I’d hang on for the seven-speed manual anyway, maybe my opinion is void in this regard. There must be some stuff other you don’t like… The newly flush exterior door handles look wonderful, but are actually pretty awkward to operate. The central gear selector doesn’t physically move into manual mode, instead calling on an additional button that’s tricky to locate with your eyes on the road ahead. Oh, and the joyously over-engineered cup holders of the last two 911 gens have been axed. Come on. Criticise something important. Fine. Its big old wheels (20in front and 21in rear, their staggered sizes aiding that superb handling) help whip up a fair bit of road noise once you’ve settled down to a sensible cruise. Crucially it’s no worse than any sports car you could feasibly call a rival, though, and simply stands out because in all other areas this is a car that’ll prove absurdly useable in everyday life. Even more so than all the 911s before it, in fact. Whatever you prioritise when buying a sports car, it’s here, and likely better implemented than in any of its foes (save for a high-revving nat-asp engine, anyway). This is a car that pulls off the rare trick of being crushingly competent but still brimming with charm. Fastidiously honed and developed, but not at the expense of fun. The world’s greatest sports car? I’m not going to argue with that. 9/10