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2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Preview & Buyer's Guide

Porsche has unveiled the next generation of their storied 911 sports car. The 992 will succeed the outgoing 991 for model year 2020, and Porsche's online configurator now allows fans and potential buyers to set up their ideal 911 Carrera in both S and 4S trim.

Exterior Styling

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In classic Porsche form, the 992 generation debuts with little to differentiate itself from the outgoing 991 generation, which itself debuted 8 years ago as the successor to the 997. For Porsche newbies, following a 991 with a 992 makes sense—but the through-line from 993 to 997 and 997, then back to 991 and 992 presents a problem that Porsche will undoubtedly have to contend with in another eight years or so.

For now, the 992's exterior gains a bit more futuristic lighting—especially at the rear end—and different script for make and model badging on the tail. The quintessential 911 form shines through, and the underlying platform remains the same as the 991, including the 96.5-inch wheelbase. Both the S and 4S iterations that premiered at the Los Angeles Auto Show (and are now available on Porsche's online configurator) feature a wide body layout and longer overhangs at both the front and rear, meaning the 992 will be slightly bigger than its predecessor. Pop-out door handles make an appearance, but it remains to be seen whether a base 911 will also feature wider haunches.

That online configurator allows for plenty of options for the picky Porsche buyer, including 17 exterior colors and four different wheel choices. A paint-to-sample decision will run $11,430 while ceramic brakes, LED matrix headlights, and a rear windshield wiper are all available exterior add-ons.

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Drivetrain & Mechanicals

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For Porsche and the brand's loyal customers, the driving experience is everything. Sure, the cars from Stuttgart are beautiful to look at and the interiors offer every latest amenity. But just one mention of air-cooled versus water-cooled in a crowd of P-car snobs can spark hours of endless debate. For now, the 911 Carrera is available in 4s and S trim, with the same engine powering both variants. Of course, the 4S gets all-wheel drive—though both can include rear-wheel steering as another option box to check.

Hanging off the rear end is the latest iteration of Porsche's flat-six engine, in this case a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter unit producing up to 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. For context, the outgoing 991 in S and 4S trim produced 420 horses and 368 lb-ft, and much of the gains can be attributed to a new intercooler setup that shifts the units to the center of the rear end to help reduce pressure losses and intake temperatures.

An eight-speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung, widely considered the best dual-clutch automatic in the business) will be the only available transmission on early cars delivered to the United States, though a seven-speed manual is slated to follow for the lineup.

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Performance-enhancing mechanical options include adaptive dampers, ceramic brakes, and of course, the Sport Chrono package that includes selectable driving modes, launch control, and rev matching. So far, everything sounds pretty similar to the 991, though Porsche has claims around 20% of the car, mostly engine components, are all-new for the 992. The engine itself has been moved forward 20mm (or just over 3/4 of an inch) and the Sport Chrono package even includes adaptive engine mounts.

For now, all that's been revealed is that the stick shift version will save 55 pounds versus its PDK sibling, and Porsche's chief engineer on the 911, August Achleitner, has revealed that part of that weight difference is because the new PDK has space for an electric motor within the gearbox—meaning that Porsche has already paved part of the way for a hybrid 911, pending market demand, though it would still be at least four years out and Porsche is concerned about the serious weight gains required for a battery.

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Interior & Tech

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The big news for the 992's technology package surrounds the addition of a Wet mode into the selectable drive mode system. The 992, at least the S and 4S models that have been revealed so far, has received staggered wheels measuring 21 inches at the rear and 20 inches in the front. The move follows on the popularity of the 991 GT3 RS and GT2 RS models, but it also presents some concerns for driving dynamics. While under ideal conditions, the larger wheels allow for a larger contact patch with the ground while also allowing for lower tire pressure, but in low-traction situations, those changes can prove detrimental to performance.

To compensate, the Wet driving mode utilizes sensors in the wheel wells around the front tire to determine just how much water is on the road and adjusts settings in traction control, stability control, ABS, and even torque vectoring to the front axle for the all-wheel-drive 4S. The spoiler also deploys at a lower speed in Wet mode to help keep the tail end planted solidly.

As always, the 992 comes with plenty of options boxes to check on the interior, including a Burmester entertainment system, the glass sunroof, an Alcantara pouch for the key, and the analog and digital stopwatches that come with the Sport Chrono package. The infotainment screen measures 10.9 inches, and the gauge cluster is made up of two separate digital screens on either side of an analog tachometer.

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Pricing & Buying

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For now, the 992 is only available to the world in 911 Carrera 4S and S trim, which start at $121,650 and $114,350, respectively. Of course, all the desirable options rack up quickly, with both models easily able to eclipse $150,000. Deliveries are expected early this year for PDK-equipped cars and a few months later for buyers who simply require a third pedal. Targa, convertible, and Turbo variants are expected to follow, as well.

Competition

The Porsche 911 has long remained in a league of its own thanks to its rear-engine layout, though competition comes in the form of mid-engined sports cars like the Audi R8 and Acura NSX or the front-engined, all-wheel-drive Nissan GT-R, all of which occupy the mid-$100,000 range.

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