Porsche 911 Carrera 992 Coupe – long-term review - Report No:6 2023 | Top Gear
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Long-term review

Porsche 911 Carrera 992 Coupe – long-term review

£84,870/£93,646 as tested /£1,010 PCM
Published: 29 Mar 2022


  • SPEC

    992 Carrera



  • BHP


  • 0-62


Is the 911 about to be overshadowed by the Lotus Emira?

A peek behind the curtains. We drove the Lotus Emira on road and track. Or, to be more accurate, track then road. They were a long way apart, so I drove the Emira from Lotus HQ in Norfolk to Bala in Wales, about 250 miles. Quite a privilege to be the first person outside the factory to go and do a good road drive in the car. Yes, it was a prototype, but still instructive. Its refinement impressed, the ride still needed work and the touchscreen was, well… better than VW can currently deliver. I even tried the sound system. Bit tinny. 

Now, I’m not about to pretend I’ve done a twin test against the Porsche 911, but they reflected interestingly on each other. Both have the capacity to make long hours painless and ordinary driving special. And that matters, because that’s the sort of driving we do all the time. The Lotus absorbed motorways across the Midlands with good grace, but that’s the easy direction because you know the good stuff lies ahead, so you’re all eager and excited. And when it got to the B-roads beyond Shrewsbury the Emira scampered about as well as you’d hope, consuming ground and flowing along easily and communicatively. 

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The following morning I set off back along the same roads in the Porsche. This is the tricky direction: you’re having a good time, but in the back of your mind you know that when the Bs taper off, you have hours on Ms. It’s a bitter-sweet feeling.  

But I’m not sure I’ve ever driven any car that delivers a better blend of entertainment and ability across those two areas than the Porsche 911. It was definitely heavier on the road than the Emira (1505kg plays 1400), but so polished and engaging. How Porsche has developed a rear-engined car to have turn-in every bit as impressive as its traction out is staggering. It’s such a rewarding car to drive. The depth of engineering is such that I started to realise deficiencies in the Lotus that I hadn’t noticed the night before. It’s the same when you drive anything back-to-back with a 911.  

But the Lotus was a manual. There’s so few of them about these days that I rarely forget what I’m missing. But the night before I’d thrown a gearlever about, and the next morning, clicking paddles, I was bereft. You can have a manual 911, but not with the base Carrera, only the Carrera S (or GT3). 

Lotus is clearly on the right track – more orientated towards Bs than Ms than the Porsche, which is what you want and expect. Do the Bs first and you’re not going to have the hollow pit of dread in your stomach that happens when you’re in a Caterham, arrive at a motorway junction and know you have three hours minimum on multi-laners. But equally, it doesn’t yet appear to have the Porsche’s quiet satisfactions. 

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You’re already aware this car is pretty much free of options. So you’d expect anything that’s upgradable to perform to the bare minimum to persuade you to make the step up. Here’s two key ones for long trips: headlights and hifi. You can have Matrix LEDs (£2054) and Bose (12 speakers, 570 watts, £1002) or Burmester (13 speakers, 855watts, £3258) sounds. Both would be tempting. But there’s no need. Seriously.

On main beam the standard headlights are amongst the most potent I’ve ever come across. Dipped beam is superb, but every time I switch the beams on a dark road I’m blown away by how strong they are. Yes, you have to flick them up and down yourself, but that’s hardly a hassle and better than the awkward worry that the matrix has malfunctioned and you’re main-beaming people. And the matrix doesn’t see what you do: the early glow of oncoming cars from below brows or around corners. 

I became a bit of a sound snob after running the Conti GT a couple of years back. Nothing I’ve tried since has got anywhere close to the Naim system in that car. I’ve used Burmester in 911s and it’s fine, but not dazzling. Here’s proof there’s not much wrong with the standard 150 watt, 8 speaker set-up. The sound is full-bodied, clarity is good, high volume distortion minimal, the bass lines thump. I enjoy listening to music in this car, where normally I go for podcasts because the music sounds so limp. 

Combine that with the brilliant visibility, the interior design and quality, the driving position, seat comfort and the frankly wonderful Heritage Design corduroy and this is a car I relish on motorways almost as much as good roads. It’s just such a sodding brilliant all-round car, this. 

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