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2020 Porsche 911 Review: Change Within Continuity

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Auto123 reviews the 2020 Porsche 911.

Porsche rolled out the latest version of its fabled 911 model at the Los Angeles Auto Show, back when auto shows were still an actual thing. This new edition is the 992, the follow-up of course to the 991.
Porsche has gotten us used to at most subtle exterior changes and it’s no exception here; but the interior environment is something much more modern, completely new in fact. Overall, the 911 retains the characteristic of being an exotic everyday car. The engine is a little more powerful and inside is a little more roomier, while the standard PDK transmission now offers 8 gears instead of 7. Porsche is obviously aware that it has a winning formula, with which it has wisely decided not to mess too deeply.

See also: Our review of the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet

Still in shape at 56
No, I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about the 911, as it happens the same age as me. The Zuffenhausen-bsed automaker has always kept the concept young, and its child prodigy returns in forms that will delight fans. This 911 manages to be just slightly new and improved, every go-around. The fenders are wider, the wheels are bigger, but the overall 2+2 styling and proportions haven’t changed much. There's still that simplicity in the presentation, which is both sober and chic. Compared to the previous generation, this 992 is a little longer (+20 mm), and now exceeds 4.5 m with wider front and rear tracks (+45/44 mm).

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2020 Porsche 911, front
Photo: B.Charette
2020 Porsche 911, front

Updated interior
Inside is where Porsche made the most notable changes. On a wider, redesigned dashboard, the company has introduced the infotainment system first introduced in the Panamera two years ago. The 10.9-inch touchscreen has been nicely integrated into the dashboard, which blends in well with the decor. Porsche didn't succumb like so many others to simply sticking it on top of the dashboard, and frankly it's much nicer this way.

The controls in the center of the screen are complemented by a few buttons on each side. The learning curve lasts a few days, but it’s nothing too complicated. The ignition key stays in the pocket, you still have the starter on the left side of the steering wheel (a Porsche tradition) and the PDK 8-speed transmission, operated with a simple little arm, now has eight gears and can be used in manual mode by pressing the M button on the centre console and shifting gears with the help of small paddles on the steering wheel. You can also still get the 7-speed manual transmission (at no extra charge).

2020 Porsche 911, interior
Photo: B.Charette
2020 Porsche 911, interior

Still the flat H6
The basic mechanics are the same as the 991-2 version. The 3.0L turbocharged H6 first introduced in 2015 offers 379 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque in this entry-level version. While some enthusiasts may miss the lyrical flights of fancy of the naturally-aspirated engines, this turbo is surprisingly well balanced: the redline is at 7,500 RPM and maximum power arrives 1,000 RPM earlier. It's true that the sound is a little more muffled, but the engine doesn't lack breath, no matter what the RPM. It gets you to 100 km/h in 4 seconds and will push up to 293 km/h if you feel like losing your license. To improve sound quality inside the cabin, engineers designed a variable valve system that opens according to engine speed and transmits more or less sound.

Stellar on the road
The greatest quality of this 911 just might be that it adapts to all driving situations. There are five drive modes (Normal, Individual, Sport and Sport+) as well as Wet mode that detects rain.

Even if it has put on a little weight, the 911 is still a top-flight ballerina on the road. Its dance is still bewitching and it’s – as always – a pity that we couldn’t try it out on the German roads and highways this sporty marvel was designed for, at heart.

2020 Porsche 911, on the road
Photo: Porsche
2020 Porsche 911, on the road

Still, it’s also a fact that in Normal mode, letting the PDK box do the work makes driving this feel like you’re piloting a normal sedan. There isn't a lot of feeling, but if you're in traffic, it's very bearable. The 911 is still the champion of the exotic cars for living with on a daily basis. Able to drive "cushy" while remaining pleasant, it becomes a war machine if you use the Sport+ mode and use the steering wheel paddles. You're now in a race car.

Our test car was equipped with sculpted sports seats that keep you firmly in place. The balanced drive, which is almost impossible to find fault with, allows you to drive fast and safe. Take this on a winding road and you enjoy endless pleasure. It clings to the road with real purpose and the PDK gearbox that downshifts with its little accompanying symphony makes you feel like a pro behind the wheel; it’s all very rewarding. And when it’s time to put an end to the fun, the 911 brakes as quickly as it accelerates. Even in this basic version, this car remains every bit as seductive as ever.

2020 Porsche 911, rear
Photo: B.Charette
2020 Porsche 911, rear

You have to be willing to pay $111,000 to join the club, though. Our car was equipped with $30,000 in options that brought the price to an eye-watering $141,300. The sport interior is $5,170, the sport seats with 18-way power adjustment costs another $3,960, the asymmetrical 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels with single wheels $4,260 and the LED light system $3,730, to name just those.

The years go by, but the 911 remains the benchmark in its segment; Porsche has managed to bring change to this extraordinary model while staying true to the spirit of continuity. As comfortable at low revs as it is on a racetrack, the 2020 911 won’t – cannot – leave you disappointed. Once you get over that steep price of admission.

We like

Faultless on-road behaviour
Gearbox/engine harmony
Effective braking
Successful new interior

We like less

Ergonomics of some controls need to be reviewed
Little storage space
Small trunk
Rear seats that will only be used for excess luggage

The competition

Aston Martin Vantage
Chevrolet Corvette
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Jaguar F-Type
Mercedes-AMG GT
Porsche 718 Cayman/Boxster

2020 Porsche 911, profile
Photo: B.Charette
2020 Porsche 911, profile

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