Last-gen GTS 991.2 takes on all-new C4S 992: which is best? Your definitive head-to-head is here: how does the latest generation of Porsche 911 improve over the last? The 992 Carrera 4S is bigger, bolder and more versatile than ever before – but is it a better drive than the 991.2 Carrera 4 GTS before it? Written by Lee Sibley. Photography by Ali Cusick.
It’s fair to say Porsche’s executives can be mighty pleased with the way the company’s eighth generation of 911 has been received so far. The Neunelfer is, after all, the bedrock of Zuffenhausen: an entire automotive operation is administered with this iconic car at its centre.
Of course it’s crucial that any new 911 must succeed in obtaining the approval of a global fanbase so impassioned by it. In the case of the 992, succeeded it has… and then some. Not since the arrival of the 997.1 has a new generation of 911 been met with such resounding acclaim by all corners of the motoring spectrum. The 992 has built nicely on the foundations of the 991 before it, an era which didn’t exactly enjoy the same instant endearment. Its bloated size over the outgoing 997 was lamented, as was the uptake of electrically assisted steering, both of which were seen as surefire signs of a general creep away from the 911’s all-out sports car demeanor in favour of a more comfortable grand tourer.
“The 911 GTS 991.2 is fine-tuned to better appeal to your senses”
Despite what might best be described as a takeoff with turbulence, the 991 has gone on to become one of the most popular 911 generations of all time, right where it matters – in the showroom. Even after that mid-life introduction of turbocharging for the entire Carrera range, customers continued to back the car handsomely with their wallets. As a result, the 991 is a best-seller.
The 992 is still wet behind the ears in terms of its production cycle. There are only four models to choose from, Carrera S 992 or 4S in Coupe or Cabriolet, but, with sales managers in an effervescent glow from early reviews, it’s about time the new arrival was put directly against its predecessor.
You may have realised our 991 vs. 992 test isn’t strictly an ‘apples to apples’ comparison. This is for good reason: our 991.2 is in fact a Carrera 4 GTS, not only a closer match on paper to the 992 Carrera 4S, but also a genuine rival in the showroom right now.
The 992 Carrera 4S Coupe’s RRP in the UK might be £98,418, but once you’ve added some sensible options you won’t see much change from £115,000 – our Dolomite silver press car here comes in at £116,467. That’s the same figure you can expect to pay for a 991.2 GTS right now, either straight from the production line, as some late examples are still being built alongside the 992, or from a host of used examples currently available with around 1,000 miles on the clock. The stage is therefore set: what’s better, a new 992 C4S or a well-specced 991.2 C4 GTS?
We’ll start with a refresher in the 991. It was much changed over the 911 997, with a lighter, multi-material body and a 100mm-longer wheelbase. Its notable expanse in proportions now appears a little more modest when parked next to a 992. Gracefully, it still looks every bit a modern 911, helped by 3D lights on the rear. These are joined together by the light bar, which has formed such an integral part of the 992’s visual DNA.
“The 911 Carrera 4S 992 is arguably the most complete all-rounder Porsche has ever made”
Inside it’s well appointed, boasting the best seating position ever found in a 911. This is a huge victory for the 991. The front thrones are low yet comfortable and supportive, and if you bag an example with 18-way Sports Seats Plus as here, you can almost infinitely fine-tune them to your frame. The clocks, dead ahead, are quick to draw my attention. Nestled neatly behind the steering wheel, perfectly visible within the upper confines of its circumference, they are wonderful to stare at and admire. Each dial is purposeful in the way it presents information; the fourth pod, digitised, is executed harmoniously among the analogue instrumentation of its neighbours. Typically Porsche, it’s an ergonomic work of art. It’s so sad to think we won’t be treated to this functional brilliance again.
Elsewhere the GTS treatment elevates this 991.2’s specification somewhat. There’s a boost in power for the engine, adding 30hp and 50Nm torque, matched with slight tweaks to the suspension, as well as some enviable options such as Sports Exhaust, Chrono Pack and dynamic engine mounts all thrown in as standard. Centre-locking Turbo wheels, reserved only for this particular derivative of the Carrera line-up, look utterly gorgeous, and an Alcantara dressing of the seat centres, steering wheel and PDK shifter adds to the 991’s haptic flair. Already it feels like a special place to be.
Slotting the 911-shaped key into its ignition and twisting right, the 991’s flat six jumps to life with alacrity, a cavernous growl emitted from those black, polished tailpipes. On the road, the GTS wastes little time in reminding why it’s so revered. Acceleration is rapid, with huge traction to all four wheels enabling the 991 to put its power down in a way not seen before in a 911 with ‘Carrera’ stamped to its rump. There’s just so much torque, and it’s pretty much unrelenting. Front-end grip is plentiful thanks to those wider GTS-spec wheels and tyres, and there’s a wonderful fluidity to the steering, too, even if it never really weights up like 911s of old. That said, for a rear-engined sports car the 991 has a rather brilliant natural balance engineered into it. At road speeds it won’t readily understeer unless you’re doing something very wrong.
Throttle response is impressively sharp in the GTS, in spite of the fact the car’s making use of two turbochargers. In fact, aside from the abundance of torque available from just 2,350rpm, Porsche has done a brilliant job of making this 991.2 feel like the naturally aspirated generation before it. Chasing the red paint at 7,600rpm remains just as rewarding as before, the turbos never really running out of puff, and unless you’ve got a window down you’ll be hard pressed to hear them spooling up too. In place of that is a raucous exhaust note: unlike Porsche’s genuine 911 Turbo, it’s positively loud, snarling its way through the rev range and popping and banging delightfully on the overrun.
There’s no need to firm up the car’s PASM on the public road, its ‘normal’ setting giving enough compliance and focus without overstepping the mark. Activate the harder setting and you’ll be exposed to a crashy ride, exacerbated by 20-inch wheels with the low profile and stiff sidewall of Pirelli’s N-rated P-Zero tyres.
It’s rather effortless to pilot, for sure, but there’s still an art to driving fast and carrying your speed. Be clinical with your inputs and the 991 will reward you handsomely through the clarity of its responses and capability of its performance. The GTS is fine-tuned to better appeal to your senses, packaged in a 991 platform that, transformational though it was at the time, is mightily accomplished. It sets the bar very high indeed.
It is not until this precise moment, sitting at the wheel of the 991 GTS and watching the Dolomite silver car navigate the country roads ahead, that I’ve finally found peace with the rear of the 992. From the moment the car was launched I hadn’t been keen on it at all, thinking it just looked unfinished, thanks largely to that very apparent gap between the ‘Porsche’ lettering and license plate recess much further below. Now though, following it from behind in the context of the real world, its avant-garde design appeals. Mixed with its huge presence on the road, it looks like a spaceship.
That intergalactic theme continues inside. There have never been so many screens confronting a 911 driver. They steal your attention before the subtleties of the 992’s G-series-inspired design to the dash and door layout, or the thicker, more luxurious cushioning to the leather applied to them. It still feels like a 911 inside, albeit a 911 built for a future world.
The 10.9-inch PCM screen is the 992’s digital hub, containing a scarcely imaginable wealth of information presented via numerous menus. Your Porsche will now give you a weather forecast, the news headlines, reviews of places to dine nearby. It’s more intel than you’ll ever need, but it’s elegantly presented and impressively responsive, working to commands familiar to your smartphone.
Screens are, of course, now also found behind the steering wheel, sandwiching a stunningly crafted centre dial that’s more timepiece than tachometer – this the last bastion of the 911 of old. That said, those screens are effective in the way they present information, particularly the advanced projection of Google Maps when needing to follow the sat nav. Overall it’s a pretty good blend of modernist technology within a traditionalist framework. So far so good.
Seating position feels almost identical to the 991, but Porsche tells me the throne of a 992 is 20mm closer to the floor. It doesn’t take long to find a comfortable spot and, slinging the keys in the centre console, a twist of the ignition switch brings the newest 911 to life.
At start-up it displays a note not too dissimilar to a 991 GT2 RS, though it is much, much quieter. Severely muted by those particulate filters, we soon find out the 992’s exhaust note is missing the pops and bangs of the more rowdy 991. That soundtrack might be forced in the 991, but it adds a layer of connection between car and driver that’s just not there in the 992. Not since the 996.1 Carrera has a 911 been so disappointingly quiet.
The size of the 992 is something else. Sure, it has the same 1,852mm body as the 991, but the new 911 is now much wider at the front, and track widths have grown too – 13mm at the back and a monumental 50mm across the front axle. The result of this growth is twofold. First, it feels huge from behind the wheel, and placing the 992 on narrow British roads can be challenging. Second, and far more positively, the 911 has taken a quantum leap forward in terms of its poise at corner entry. Its composure is simply remarkable.
In fact, the front end is impressively close to a GT3. The 992’s steering is a revelation: it’s faster and more direct, with more weight to it, the nose sharper, darting for the exact sliver of blacktop you care to point the wheel at. In 4S form it’s wonderfully stable too, the front of the car unrelenting in its mission to deliver your chosen line, and it has to be said the Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres which these early cars are delivered on are excellent, far more communicative and forgiving than the default P-Zeros.
For all the 992’s technological new wizardry, its chassis is absolutely its pièce de résistance. The way this 911 rides over such rough, potholed roads, you’d think you were gliding through the air. It’s so polished, and thanks to a repositioning of those dynamic engine mounts, for the first time you can deploy PASM on the road for an extra dose of focus without an unwanted harshness emanating from the rear of the car.
Tackling the same succession of bends as the earlier 991, the threshold of speed which the 992 is able to achieve and maintain is higher. Power is readily accessible, as you’d expect for a car with 450hp, even if it lacks a slight sharpness in throttle response to the 991. The PDK system is quick enough, too, even if it’s been dialed back quite substantially in its reaction times compared to that of a 991 GT3 RS.
There are a number of practical issues which leave a little to be desired on the 992. The pop-out door handles come first: their operation is erratic, and when they do pop out for you to ‘grab’, there’s only room enough for your fingertips to pull open what is a heavy, jarring door. It’s a far cry from the elegance through simplicity of the 991’s handle, which you can wrap your entire hand around to open the door easily enough. It was Ferry Porsche who once said: “If you analyse the function of an object, its form often becomes obvious.” Yet I feel with the handles – your first point of engagement with the 992 – this has been lost to what I’d speculate as a requirement from marketing. The same accusation is pointed at the keyless entry system: it’s not harmonious enough to be fitted to a Porsche. During the static photoshoot we had to jump in, put our foot on the brake and start the car to lower the windows, as simply turning on the ignition didn’t garner a response. Given the nature of the car, keyless entry also causes mild anxiety over ‘keyless theft’ at night. What was ever wrong with a traditional key and door handle?
They are minor blotches on the copy paper of the 992, however. The Carrera 4S is a brilliant first foray into the new 992 generation and is arguably the most complete all-rounder Porsche has ever made. Where would I put my own money right now? If my lifestyle required one do-it-all 911, then the 992 would be an easy choice. But, for the simple pleasure of driving, I’d take the 991. That GTS recipe, so popular among enthusiasts, continues to resonate strongest; it’s more engaging and appealing to the senses, and each drive feels more special as a result.
Post-test, it did get me thinking ahead to an inevitable launch of a 992 GTS. A model that will undoubtedly mix the very best of both these brilliant cars on test here, it could well offer a genuine alternative to a GT3 for all but the most ardent track junkies. The thought quickens my pulse. That’s going to be some 911.
Thanks: The 991.2 C4 GTS in our pictures is for sale at Porsche Centre Bournemouth. For more information on the car, call Jason on +44 (0) 1202 897 688.
BELOW Looking down the side of both cars reveals the 992’s more pronounced front arch profile and wheel placing compared to 991.
ABOVE The 992 feels as rapid on the public road as it does big.
RIGHT Custom command buttons feel great to touch; screens are an inevitable technlogical creep; we don’t rate the awkward door handles.
ABOVE Primitive PCM screen now feels dated, but the rest of the 991’s interior design is timeless.
The general consensus is that with the 991.2 GTS, you can’t go too far wrong – its standard specification out the box including Sports exhaust and Chrono Pack delivers a brilliant Porsche 911 package. We prefer PDK transmission to the clunky seven-speed manual, and the pre-2019 model year cars without the particulate filters (which add weight and mute exhaust noise) are going to hold greater appeal for now at least.
The nature of the 992 with its raft of new technologies means the options list can be something of a minefield. Rear-axle steer is a must (£1,592), and Chrono Pack with Mode wheel (£1,646) is always desirable come selling time.
We’re yet to try a 992 without Sports exhaust (£1,844) but, given how muted its resonance is anyway, we’re wondering just how worthwhile it really is. We’d also skip the top-end Burmester sound system as the Bose is good enough. The new LED-Matrix headlights (£2,054), however, are astounding, and a worthy addition.