Upon first impression in 2011, 991 generation 911 seemed like a clever, considered progression from the previous generation 997, if a little oversized. As much as I would like to see the 911 to shrink in size and hold onto its past, I liked it.
Enter the 992, and this seemed like the first Porsche 911 I couldn’t see myself owning (always a fantasy!). It felt too ‘Tron’, too far removed from the styling cues which have made it so recognisable for 50 years, and felt as though it was trying too hard.
But as with every new release of an icon, once that initial shock had passed, it’s possible to look at things a little more objectively, even though there’s very little that’s objective about spending $300,000 on a car.
We all know Porsche are about performance, and that performance criteria now dictates the way these cars are engineered and also styled, perhaps more than ever. When growing up, the wide body 911s were the only ones I was really interested in. Tough, aggressive, fast. Sign me up! However as time went on I learnt to appreciate the narrow body 911s for their simplicity and accessible, approachable style. Now with the 992 generation, all 911s are wide body 911s, and I do wonder if it’s another piece of Porsche 911 history that will be lost. God help us when the 911 goes all electric.
The wider track at the front will most likely help to produce faster lap times, notably Nürburgring lap times. It’s not that it looks bad, in fact it looks rather aggressive, but it does mean the new 911 is always in that aggressive mode rather than flipping between a delicate graceful sports car and lap time monster.
I fear it’s also starting to move visually piece by piece, closer to that of every other GT car. From the 993 onwards, the tail lights have been moving higher and higher up the rear of the car, probably because due to regulation compliance. These raised bootlines, sills, and bonnets all pose a design challenge: How to retain the 911 essence without it turning into something that resembles a squished Cayenne. With the rear light extending the entire width of the rear, something usually reserved for Carrera 4 models, it feels too forced and breaks the familiar swooping rear lines. You could argue much celebrated air cooled generations of 964 and 993 had a large rear red panel between the lights, so why is this so different?
What I can’t make my peace with though is the shape/design of the rear wing when activated. These sorts of speed activated rear wings rarely look good on any car because they always feel like they shouldn’t be there, and on the 992, it certainly looks that way. Is it a coincidence that just about all of the moving shots of the 992 on Porsche’s official website don’t show the rear wing activated? Photographers always know how to bring the best out of a design, shape, or form.
What about the interior? I have to say I was quite shocked at the treatment initially. The huge screen disrupting the horizontal form across the dash, the (now) somewhat out of place sports chrono, the tiny drive selector, the weird folding bit in front of the passenger. Surely there were better ways of modernising? It’s not the end of the world, but the changes do leave you scratching your head a bit.
Change is a constant and a necessity for a company battling for market share. If Porsche had stuck with building air-cooled 911s they would’ve been out of business decades ago. If you’re not happy with reinvention or evolution, there are plenty of used 911s on the market to choose from.
I suspect the 992 will be quite brilliant, but I also wonder if we’ve lost a few more attributes which make the 911 look or feel like a 911.