Porsche 911 Carrera 992 Coupe – long-term review
Is the Porsche 911 Carrera 992 Coupe the perfect camera car?
Photography: Katie Potts
I’ve been doing this job a long time. Sometimes I think I’ve seen it all. And then James Deane drifts his Falken BMW Formula Drift car three feet off the Porsche 911’s back bumper, and I’m forced to think again. What a day. It was incredible, mad, wild. I’ve never seen, heard or experienced anything like it.
I’ll save the full story of what we were up to for the future, but I wanted to tell you about the 911's role. To have a hope of keeping ahead of James’s 930bhp smoke machine and getting the shots we wanted, we needed a fast photography platform. It needed to have broad, smooth, strong body panels so we had lots of options for where to fit the suction mounts. It needed to be easy to drive quickly, be smooth at the limit with good body control, offer plenty of grip and minimal roll. Too much lean or sudden movement and it can upset the drone’s gimbal.
I know the combination of drone, tape, cardboard and cling film makes it look like a fairly standard Hermes parcel delivery (‘you weren’t in so your parcel has been kicked round the back of your house then smashed repeatedly against the back of your car until it stuck’), but a rainy day demands solutions that can be found within the Top Gear Production Office at Dunsfold. In this case, to minimise spray and maximise the drone’s chance of survival, cardboard and cling film. It actually worked. Until lunchtime.
The car also needed to have four seats. OK three would have done it, but we didn’t have a McLaren Speedtail to hand. Someone to drive, someone to operate the camera and someone in the back on the radio to call the shots – where the cars needed to be, what was going on at each corner, closer in or further away (the latter, always the latter).
It’s yet another thing the 911 is almost uniquely good at. I softened the suspension off, slackened the traction control, while terrific visibility allowed videographer Matt Murray in the back to see exactly where James was. Now, I wouldn’t say he was especially comfortable back there, but I told him that a few days earlier I’d managed to cram my 6’ 2” brother in the same seat. Which I had. Although I didn’t point out that all he’d had to put up with was a five minute journey with a pint in a beer garden at the end of it, not several howlingly full-blooded laps of Dunsfold.
However, all was well and the 911 proved to be the calm, capable, rewarding machine it is in everyday life. Something else to add to its roster of talents: the perfect high speed camera platform.
While behind all hell was – very literally – breaking loose. Watching the mirrors as they fill up with this visual fury, green snout emerging from billowing smoke, wheels angled over, turbocharged and nitrous’d engine screaming was, well, almost as alarming as having an X7 come up behind you.
Kidding. It wasn’t that bad. And besides, James had the ability to not only place the car inch-perfect, but to vary his angle and the amount of smoke being generated. It was amazing. When we switched the rig to the front and I chased him, on the first run I literally got lost in the fog. Noisiest pea-souper ever.
So the Porsche 911 and I spent the day in our own private drift battle with a three times world champion. Didn’t even need to change tyres at the end of it. How many sets was it you went through again, James?