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Porsche 911 2020 review: Carrera Coupe

There is a new member of 992-series 911 family, the Carrera Coupe.
EXPERT RATING
8.3
The 992 series of the iconic Porsche 911 is off to a hot start, can the entry-level Carrera Coupe keep it on pace?

In life, the temptation to take everything to the absolute max is always there, and many times we can’t but give into it, but it’s not always the best option for us.

Take the Porsche 911, for example. A bewildering number of variants make up each and every generation of the pre-eminent sports car, but more often than not, the entry-level Carrera Coupe is all the metal, glass, plastic and rubber anyone will ever need.

That said, with Porsche having moved onto the 992-series 911, it’s time to ask that question once again. So, to find out if the Carrera Coupe is still the pick of the bunch, we attended its local launch.

Porsche 911 2020: Carrera
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.4L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$236,700

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

There’s no doubting the 911 is an automotive icon. In fact, it’s so recognisable that those without the faintest interest in motoring can easily spot one in a crowd.

So, it goes without saying Porsche stuck to its successful formula for the 992 series, and that’s by no means a big thing. Just look at it!

There’s no doubting the 911 is an automotive icon. There’s no doubting the 911 is an automotive icon.

Even so, Porsche did take more risks than usual when designing the new 911, such as keeping its wheelbase length as is but increasing its track width by 44mm and 45mm at the front and rear respectively. The result is a broader and therefore meaner look.

There’s also no more wide-body version exclusive to all-wheel-drive and GT variants, so the rear-wheel-drive Carrera Coupe gets to look just as plump (read: delicious) as its dearer siblings.

Even staggered wheels are now the norm range-wide, with the Carrera Coupe getting 19-inch rims up front and 20-inch items at the rear.

Granted, the front end is familiar with its round LED headlights, but pay closer attention and you’ll notice a recessed channel at the top of the bonnet, which actually pays homage to earlier 911 generations alongside the specific shape of the side profile.

The new doorhandles are a bigger deal, sitting flush more or less with the bodywork – until they automatically pop out when summoned, of course.

The front end is familiar with its round LED headlights. The front end is familiar with its round LED headlights.

That said, the biggest departures from the 911 norm are saved for the rear end, with the horizontal bar connecting the tail-lights no longer the reserve of AWD variants. And with LEDs shining bright at night, it makes quite the statement.

Just above this lighting array is a showy pop-up spoiler that incorporates a large chunk of the rear decklid. It continues to raise all the way until it becomes a full air brake.

If the 992-series 911’s exterior isn’t much of an evolution for you, then its interior arguably represents a revolution, especially when it comes to technology.

Yes, the dashboard design is familiar, but its contents is not, with the eyes immediately drawn to the 10.9-inch touchscreen positioned centrally.

The multimedia system powering it is Porsche’s latest, offering soft shortcut buttons on the driver’s side. There’s also a row of hard keys below for easy access. That said, some of the other key functions are buried, requiring a few too many taps to unearth.

Even more drastic is the instrument cluster departure from a famous five-dial arrangement to just one…

Well, a pair of 7.0-inch multi-function displays flank the tachometer, attempting to imitate the four missing dials. This is done well, but the steering wheel’s rim does conceal the outer sections, requiring the driver to move from side to side to soak it all in.

The dashboard design is familiar, but its contents is not. The dashboard design is familiar, but its contents is not.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Let’s face it; the 911 is a sports car, so it’s not the first word in practicality. That said, it is one of the better ones when it comes to liveability.

While many sports cars are two-seaters, the 911 is a ‘2+2’, which means it has a pair of smaller rear seats that are best suited for children.

If you really dislike other adults, you can make them sit in the back with next to no legroom or headroom, regardless of the set driving position.

What’s more useful is the ability to fold the rear seats flat to create a wide – if not deep – storage area.

There’s also a 132L boot up front, because the 911 is rear-engined, of course. While that sounds small, it is large enough for a couple of soft bags or small suitcases. And yes, you can probably get away doing your weekly shop with it, too.

There’s a 132L boot up front because the 911 is rear-engined. There’s a 132L boot up front because the 911 is rear-engined.

Don’t expect a spare wheel, because there isn’t one. Tyre sealant and an electric pump are your only options here.

Room up front is better than before, with 12mm of extra headroom partly liberated by a 4.0mm increase in overall height and the front seats being lowered by 5.0mm. All of this makes for a roomy cockpit, even if ingress and egress are less than graceful.

One of the big changes made inside for the 992 series is the addition of a fixed cupholder in the middle of the centre console. A pop-out item is now only used for passenger side of the dashboard. The door bins are slim but able to accommodate small bottles laid on the side.

The glove box is average in size, which makes it better than that found – or not found – in most other sports cars.

A pair of USB-A ports reside in the lidded storage bin, while a 12V power outlet is located in the passenger-side footwell. And that’s about it.

Room up front is better than before. Room up front is better than before.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The Carrera Coupe is now $3050 dearer, at $229,500 plus on-road costs, and while it is $34,900 more affordable than its S counterpart, it’s still an expensive proposition.

Buyers are compensated for their big spend, though, starting with LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing wipers and keyless entry and start.

Inside, satellite navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay support (Android Auto isn’t available), DAB+ digital radio, a Bose sound system, 14-way power-adjustable front comfort seats with heating, a sports steering wheel with paddle-shifters, dual-zone climate control, partial leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror feature.

As is the Porsche way, there’s a long list of pricey and desirable options. As is the Porsche way, there’s a long list of pricey and desirable options.

As is the Porsche way, there’s a long list of pricey and desirable options, so be prepared to pay a lot more to get the specification you really want.

This 911 also gets a bunch of safety features, but we’ll cover them three sections from now.

It’s also worth noting the Carrera Coupe is in a league of its own when it comes to pricing, as most rivals (Mercedes-AMG GT S Coupe et al) hover around the $300,000 mark. Granted many of them take performance to the next level, but that’s why GTS variants are inbound.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The Carrera Coupe’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six-cylinder petrol engine is an all-alloy design that’s mounted at the rear.

It now features high-pressure piezo injectors and a little bit more power (+11kW), although torque is unchanged. Maximum outputs are 283kW at 6500rpm and 450Nm from 1950-5000rpm – a 48kW/80Nm reduction over the Carrera S Coupe.

Of note is the variable valve timing and lift system (operating on the intake and outlet side cams and the intake valves), which is now able to de-throttle the engine under partial load to save fuel.

Also, a new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission comes with a completely revised gear set, and the final drive ratio is longer.

Featuring a 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six-cylinder petrol engine is an all-alloy design mounted at the rear. Featuring a 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six-cylinder petrol engine is an all-alloy design mounted at the rear.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Porsche’s claims fuel consumption for the Carrera Coupe is 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle test (ADR 81/02), which is 0.1L/100km better than its S counterpart.

Yep, that’s sounds pretty decent for a sports car with such a high level of performance.

Porsche's claimed fuel consumption sounds pretty decent for a sports car with a high level of performance. Porsche's claimed fuel consumption sounds pretty decent for a sports car with a high level of performance.

In reality, though, we averaged 14-15L/100km during two relatively short, and spirited, blasts on country roads, while a long highway drive notched about 8.0L/100km.

The Carrera Coupe’s minimum fuel requirement is 98 RON premium unleaded, and you’ll need 64 litres of it to fill its tank.

Claimed carbon dioxide emissions are 214 grams per kilometre.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The 911 range is yet to be issued a safety rating by ANCAP or its European counterpart, Euro NCAP.

Nonetheless, the Carrera Coupe still comes with plenty of active features, including anti-skid brakes (ABS), brake assist (BA), electronic stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (operates up to 85km/h) and blind-spot monitoring.

It also gets a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and tyre pressure monitoring.

While that sounds like a good start, if you want lane-keep assist, you simply can’t have it, which is bizarre. And other key bits of kit like adaptive cruise control ($3570) and surround-view cameras ($2170) are four-figure options!

The Carrera Coupe does claw back some safety respectability with its standard 'Wet Mode', which uses sensors in the wheelarches to pick up the sound of water splashing on the tyres.

The Carrera Coupe comes with plenty of active features. The Carrera Coupe comes with plenty of active features.

It then preconditions the brakes and other control systems as it warns the driver, who can then push a button or use the steering wheel’s rotary dial (part of the optional Sport Chrono package) to change drive modes.

Once activated, Wet Mode connects the aforementioned electronic stability and traction controls with the Carrera Coupe’s adjustable aerodynamics and the torque vectoring system to ensure the best possible stability.

At 90km/h and above, the rear spoiler goes to its ‘maximum downforce’ position, the engine cooling flaps open, the accelerator responsiveness is flattened off and the Sport drive mode can’t be activated. 

And if need be, six airbags (dual front, front side and thorax) are in tow. Both rear seats incorporate top tether and ISOFIX anchors for child seats and/or baby capsules.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Like all Porsche models sold in Australia, the Carrera Coupe comes with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Like that of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, it lags behind the mainstream players, the majority of which offer five or more years of coverage.

The Carrera Coupe comes with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. The Carrera Coupe comes with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.

That said, a 12-year/unlimited-kilometre rust warranty is also bundled in alongside road assistance for the duration of the general warranty, although it is renewed each and every year after expiration if the Carrera Coupe is serviced at an authorised Porsche dealership.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Capped-price servicing isn’t available, with Porsche dealers determining how much each visit costs.

What's it like to drive?   10/10

Think you’re getting short-changed by opting for the Carrera Coupe? You’d be wrong – very wrong.

Weighing in at 1505kg, it rockets from a standstill to 100km/h in a scant 4.2 seconds. Option the aforementioned Sport Chrono package ($4890) fitted to our test vehicles and it drops to four seconds flat. Trust us when we say it isn’t far behind the ferocious Carrera S Coupe.

And it sounds good at full noise, too, with Porsche doing its best to serve up the same level of aural pleasure as the naturally aspirated 911s of old. Our test vehicles upped the ante further with the $5470 sports exhaust system, which is an absolute must.

As mentioned, the Carrera Coupe delivers 450Nm of torque from 1950-5000rpm, so you don’t need a heavy application of your right foot to be exposed to its hard-charging mid-range, which firmly pushes you into the back of your seat.

Stomp on the right pedal a little harder and you’ll find yourself quickly on the way to 283kW of power at 6500rpm, at which point the temptation to redline the engine is at its strongest, such is its rev-happy nature.

Porsche is doing its best to serve up the same level of aural pleasure as the naturally aspirated 911s of old. Porsche is doing its best to serve up the same level of aural pleasure as the naturally aspirated 911s of old.

The dual-clutch transmission is the perfect dancing partner. Even with eight speeds to play with, it goes up and down in the blink of an eye. And whatever you do, take matters into your own hands with the steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters; it’s seriously good fun.

Despite growing in size and piling on the kilos as it has aged, the Carrera Coupe is seemingly as good as ever – if not better – when it comes to driving dynamics, no matter the selected drive mode.

The suspension set-up still consists of MacPherson struts up front and multi links at the rear, while adaptive dampers are predictably along for the ride (pun intended).

Speaking of which, there’s an unexpected suppleness to how the Carrera Coupe rides on lower-quality roads with its adaptive dampers set to their softest setting, even with big wheels and low-profile rubber fitted.

Yes, sharp edges are caught from time to time, but its composure is impressive for a sports car, such is the brilliance of Porsche’s engineering.

That said, flick over to the Sport and Sport+ drive modes and everything is amplified. Case in point: the power steering provides sharper turn-in, while its variable ratio progressively adds weight to ensure stable turns of the wheel.

And before you continue to lament the move to an electro-mechanical set-up, there’s plenty of road feel on offer here. Porsche is the master of it, after all.

Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming this rear-wheel-drive sports car with plenty of herbs will struggle to put its power down; it doesn’t.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming this rear-wheel-drive sports car with plenty of herbs will struggle to put its power down. Don’t make the mistake of assuming this rear-wheel-drive sports car with plenty of herbs will struggle to put its power down.

Of course the rear tyres are naturally grippy (and wide), and the engine is positioned over the rear axle, but there’s some magic at work here: an electronically controlled rear differential lock with fully variable torque distribution.

Think you’re about to lose it? Think again; Sir Isaac’s best are about to shuffle side to side and extract every last bit of adhesion. Simply put, the Carrera Coupe is dripping with confidence. All-wheel drive be damned.

As such, the driver is afforded a level of confidence that makes them feel invincible as they push harder and harder into and out of corners. This invincibility, of course, is so far from the truth (in our case, at least).

When you’re having this much fun, you need a good set of brakes to lean on when the occasion arises (read: often). Thankfully, the Carrera Coupe comes armed with a very good one.

Specifically, ventilated cast iron discs measure 330mm in diameter front and rear, clamped by black four-piston monobloc calipers at either end.

Not only do they wash away speed with ease and have incredible pedal feel, they’re also seemingly immune to punishment, which is the icing on the Carrera Coupe cake.

Verdict

As enthusiasts, we can’t help but lust for the high-performing members of the 911 range, but the fact is the entry-level Carrera Coupe is easily the pick of the bunch.

Its combination of price, pace and panache is simply unmatched. Anyone brave enough to forgo the S, GTS, Turbo and GT variants of this 911 world will be rewarded in spades.

Now the only issue is earning the money required to buy one…

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Pricing guides

$420,550
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$236,300
Highest Price
$604,800

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Carrera 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $258,600 2020 Porsche 911 2020 Carrera Pricing and Specs
Carrera 4 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $275,800 2020 Porsche 911 2020 Carrera 4 Pricing and Specs
Carrera 4 S 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $314,100 2020 Porsche 911 2020 Carrera 4 S Pricing and Specs
Carrera 4S 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $313,700 2020 Porsche 911 2020 Carrera 4S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.3
Design9
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption8
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving10
Justin Hilliard
Deputy News Editor

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