If you want one any time soon, you can only have a 444bhp Carrera S with an eight-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, but you can choose between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive (the latter works via a new hang-on clutch, incidentally), or between fixed-roof coupé and convertible bodystyles. You get a torque vectoring electronic rear differential lock and PASM adaptive dampers as standard; lowered suspension’s an option. And, because this is 2019, even for million-selling, 56-year-old iconic sports cars, you can add four-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars or carbon-ceramic brakes at extra cost, should you want to (our Carrera 4S test car had all three, plus PASM Sport springs).
It’s a mechanical recipe that the Audi R8 struggles to better in some ways, in spite of its higher price tag, more exotic spaceframe construction and behemoth Hungarian-built atmo V10. Weighing 1660kg at the kerb, the Audi’s nearly 100kg heavier than the Porsche; and while it beats it comfortably for power-to-weight ratio, it narrowly loses out to its compatriot on torque-to-weight ratio. The Audi matches the Porsche for driven wheels, but not for the latest steering and suspension technologies. The Lotus, meanwhile, with its aluminium tub and rear-drive layout, is more than 200kg lighter even than the Porsche, and has a roofline that sits almost 100mm nearer the road. It does not have active anti-roll bars or four-wheel steering – but with physical stats like that, would you say it needed them? Nope, me neither; particularly not after driving one. See: told you they were different.
You don’t expect the Porsche to put up much of a fight to the Audi on static appeal – material richness, on-board technology and the like – because traditionally 911s have kept things pretty simple and functional on the inside, and been all the more likeable for it. And that will probably be true right until the moment you slide aboard the 992 and begin to process the significant strides that it has made on interior design and perceived quality.
The car’s cabin ambience is a lot more upmarket than that of the 991. The fascia looks crisp and sculptural now, with wide, wing-like surfaces up ahead of you and a smart-looking centre stack console just above the transmission tunnel. Metallic trim and gloss-black finishes are used judiciously and well, while the car’s primary switchgear feels really solid and expensive, the best of it having a tactile knurled metallic finish. The driving position is excellent: low and snug but accommodating and perfectly supported. And the way analogue and digital technologies are blended for instrumentation and infotainment is really expert. You still get an analogue rev counter, front and centre in the driver’s binnacle, but the digital screens on both of its flanks are hugely configurable. And while the car’s PCM central infotainment screen has now grown to a landscape-oriented 10.9in size, it fits into the fascia surprisingly discreetly; it’s shaded by the upper dashboard so not prone to reflections; and it can be navigated by either touchscreen or rotary dial input.