Parkers overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 4.8
  • Carrera, S and Turbo S models
  • All are remarkably fast
  • Linear power delivery despite turbocharging

As befits a high-end sports car, the engines powering the Porsche 911 Coupe deliver more than ample performance. Standard cars are called 911 Carrera, while the more powerful version is called Carrera S. There are two- and all-wheel drive versions of both and of course the range topping Turbo S, which we'll deal with later.

Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S

Previously there were different engines for different models, but this time around if it says Carrera on the bootlid, it's got a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged engine mounted at the back of the car, aft of the rear axle. Its six cylinders are arranged in a horizontally opposed (or boxer) format – unlike a V6 engine, where one bank follows the movement of the other, each bank of three pistons punches away from the other towards the sides of the car.

As a development of the downsized-and-turbocharged motor introduced in the previous-generation 911, it’s not lacking in urgency. The standard Carrera has 385hp and 450Nm of torque, while the S boosts this to 450hp at a heady 6,500rpm, while maximum torque of 530Nm is available from 2,300-5,000rpm.

Porsche 911 badge 2020

Make no mistake, the Carrera S might well be ‘just’ one-rung-up-from-entry-level Carrera, but it feels like it’s jumped-up a notch in the speed stakes compared with the previous model. Top speed is 191mph, with a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds, or 3.5 if you spec the optional Sport Chrono Package (we suggest you do for resale as much as those two-tenths).

Factor-in the extra weight of its all-wheel drive system and the Carrera 4S’s top speed is curbed at 190mph, but the extra traction from the front wheels sees it scamper from 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, clipped to 3.4 with the Sport Chrono Package.

Does it sound as good as the old-non-turbo engines? Arguably no, but the high-pitched whooshing of the forced-induction system has a separate appeal all of its own, and with a sports exhaust fitted it's still capable of bringing a smile to your face.

It's docile to drive around town where you need gentle progress – and smoother than its predecessor in this regard while not as volatile as a Mercedes-AMG model – yet still howls like a banshee when you drop down a ratio or two using the paddles and give the throttle pedal some stick. In Sport and Sport Plus modes, the acceleration doesn’t just induce a grin, but an involuntary giggle.

It’s linear in its delivery, too – remaining smooth all the way up the rev range, feeling rewarding for the driver as you put the work in. It's very easy to drive the 911 quickly, and makes you feel like a much more accomplished driver, without it feeling too intimidating like some sports cars can.

Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S

The traditional range-topper for the 911 (special versions like the GT3 and GT2 aside), the Turbo is back in 992 form and launched initially in the most explosively fast S configuration.

2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S

This features a 3.8-litre flat six - broadly speaking an evolution of the 3.0-litre in the Carrera models - with two lag-reducing variable turbine turbochargers to take power up to 650hp and torque to a monsterous 800Nm.

Both are signicant gains on the previous car and as such the 0-62mph time drops to 2.7 seconds, which would be remarkable for an electric car, let alone a more traditionally-powered coupe. Sophisticated all-wheel drive helps get the 911 off the line but that sprinting ability is largely down to the anvil of an engine and its characterfully noisy turbos.

Its battery-powered stablemate, the Taycan Turbo S, is (rather conveniently) a tenth slower in the benchmark sprint but deploys its power in a very different way. While that car snaps your neck from a standstill, the 911 takes a second or two to get into its stride before getting into a full gallop.

2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S rear

It's an intoxicating experience backed up by a slightly more sonorous soundtrack than the last car. It's still nowhere near as spine-tingling as an Audi R8 but its purposefully deep with a raw, metallic edge at high revs.

Porsche 911 Coupe transmission options

A revised seven-speed manual gearbox is available on two- and all-wheel drive Carrera S models, but the majority of 911 Coupes will have an eight-speed PDK double-clutch automatic transmission. Purists may scowl, but this overlooks two facts: firstly, the previous seven-speeder wasn’t quite as deft as the six-ratio ‘box in the 718 Cayman and Boxster, but more than that, the PDK is excellent.

Left to run as a fully automatic transmission, particularly in Normal drive mode, the 911’s effortless to drive, particularly when trundling around urban confines – no transmission-shunt joltiness here.

Porsche 911 PDK 2020

For an even more engaging experience you’ll want to flick the paddles either side of the steering wheel. They lack the tactile delight of those in, say, a Ferrari 488, but that’s soon forgotten given the speed of changes, the accompanying turbo whoosh and the burst of acceleration.

Porsche 911 driving modes: Sport Chrono Package

What sports car would be complete without a selection of driving modes? In the 911’s case selected via an ergonomically convenient rotary dial mounted on the steering wheel, or selected via a designated menu on the large central screen.

Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual (for the driver’s preferred tailored settings) are joined in the Mk8 911 by Wet – essentially dulling the Porsche’s responses to make it even more predictable, but still mighty quick, in damp conditions. British drivers will doubtless use this a lot, and it works by using sensors in the car's wheelarches to detect rain and spray kicking up from the road and wheels.

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S yellow front 2020

Progress from Normal, through Sport to Sport Plus and the 911 becomes incrementally louder, quicker to respond and more lively as a result. Stick to the default Normal mode and the 911’s unfathomably easy to drive, while dialling it up a notch or two enables quicker drivers to exploit the Porsche’s depth of talents with a reduced level of electronic safety nets to gather you up when yours run out.

Handling

  • Astoundingly good – the class benchmark
  • Technology complements the handling prowess
  • Almost grand tourer levels of comfort, too

Forget the plaudits its rivals have had lauded upon them: in terms of handling, the Mk8 Porsche 911 is the one to beat. It’s a far cry from tail-happy days of 911 folklore – the watchwords here are balance and nimbleness.

Keep the 911 as standard and the biggest handling leap over its predecessor is the significant front-end traction, combined with the quicker steering rack, which now requires just 2.5 turns from lock-to-lock.

Not only will it change direction quicker than before, but the levels of adhesion now displayed – even on the rear-wheel drive car – are astonishing. You’ll push your nerves – and the extremities of public roads – to the limit before it begins pushing wide into understeer.

Two vs all-wheel drive

The biggest dilemma you’ll have when speccing your 911 is whether to go for a rear- or all-wheel drive model. Both are excellent choices with their own pros and cons, so which should you go for? 

With a cheaper, simpler drivetrain, the rear-wheel drive 911 delivers a slightly slower 0-62mph time but only by one tenth of a second. Fine margins indeed, and as long as the road is dry you shouldn’t notice much difference in the way that the two versions transfer their power down onto the asphalt.

Introduce a bit of rain to the mix, however, and the Carrera 4 and 4S models start to come into their own. By sending power through all four wheels, there’s greater traction off the line and when accelerating out of corners, giving the driver greater confidence and the car more stability. That’s not to say the regular car is short of traction, it’s just not quite as capable as all-wheel drive.

However, claiming AWD is the superior choice simply because it’s a touch faster and able to put its power down better is a controversial view. That’s because keen drivers may prefer the slightly superior balance and less corrupted feel of the rear-wheel drive car. For starters, its steering is lighter and crisper when going into a bend, delivering better feel as a result.

The Carrera and Carrera S are also more fun at the limit, too, thanks to said limit being lower than in AWD models. This means they can be coaxed into oversteer (where the rear of the car breaks traction) at lower speeds and meaning an, arguably, more involving driving experience – even if it’s not as objectively fast.

Upgrading the handling further

If the already accomplished handling feels too roly-poly, then you might want to tick the option box for Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC). This is another active system that dials-out bodyroll even more, by monitoring the effects of lateral movement and how the suspension behaves over broken surfaces. The flatter the 911 corners, the quicker around them it will go.

Still not enough? Add Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) for yet another round of ammunition in the 911’s handling arsenal, which keeps the 911 firmly on your chosen line by sending more power to the outside wheels on any given corner and reducing the rotation of those on the inside. And if you need more still, there’s a rear-axle steering package.

If this all sounds like too much tech and precious little fun, then worry not. They don’t dilute the driving experience, nor are they overbearing – instead they allow the driver to push more of the 911’s capabilities, making them feel even more at one with their purchase. That emotional link is one to savour.

So, why haven’t we given it the full five stars? It’s so painfully close, but given that some of its electronic trickery remains resolutely on the extra-cost options list when it’s already close to £100,000 to buy feels a tad mean.

At least if you take the plunge and add them to the kit roster you can rest assured you’re at the wheel of the most accomplished sport car of its genre.

Porsche 911 Turbo S handling

You'd think that all that extra power allied to a high-tech chassis promising a near bottomless well of grip would make the 911 Turbo S the ultimate driver's car. And in some respects, you'd be right.

2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S rear driving

In terms of getting down a stretch of road in the fastest manner possible, the 911 Turbo S offers pretty much all you could hope for. The trouble is, outright speed doesn't always equal fun, and our roads are governed by limits set well below this car's frankly preposterous road-holding capacity.

Both of those things are a problem if you consider that sports cars tend to be the most rewarding towards their limit of grip - where the driver feels engaged with the process of keeping the car pointing in the right direction. Previous 911 Turbo models required a racetrack and some very forgiving marshalls to find those limits, leaving it inert and aloof on the public road.

This time around Porsche says its made the Turbo S more raw and entertaining at lower speeds, and we agree - it's not longer a case of feeling largely superflous to the driving process, while the clever torque vectoring and active damper tech ensures there's a safety net to iron out any deficiencies in driver talent. It's a very happy balance of making you feel in control but quietly keeping a hand on tiller.

The result is that cornering in a Turbo S is unlike most normal cars - you can enter at seemingly whatever speed you like and the car remains flat and planted, the tyres stuck resolutely to the tarmac. You can reapply the throttle ludicrously early and expect nothing more serious than a slight squat from the rear.

2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S interior

So it's still a bit of a Top Trumps car, more impressive in the numbers it boasts than its ability to deliver visceral thills like a comparatively simpler GT3, or even the smaller Cayman GT4. Those cars give away a bit in terms of straight line and cornering speed in order to return more entertainment value.

It therefore comes down to a simple choice of whether you enjoy the way a more focussed 911 transforms a corner into a sort of dance, or how the Turbo S simply turns them into straights.

One thing's constant - the carbon ceramic brakes deliver robust, facially disfiguring stopping power time after time. The way the Turbo S stops is, in a lot of ways, even more impressive than the way it goes.