It’s tough finding a better car, sporty or otherwise, that has the Porsche 911’s bandwidth. It’s a luxury car that’s also a sports car that can theoretically seat 4. And you don’t need the high-end GT3 or GT2 trims to have fun: the base Carrera is all you need. The only downside? A high MSRP. But considering used Porsche 911 Carreras, even the unfairly-reviled 996-gen ones, offer many of the same thrills and qualities, is a 2020 model worth considering?
2010 vs. 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S: specs and features
Compared to the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S, the 2010 model is 2 generations behind. In 2009, the Porsche 911 was updated, going from the ‘997.1’ to the ‘997.2,’ Car and Driver explains. The current model gen is called ‘992,’ Car and Driver reports.
Like the 2010 model, the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S still has rear-wheel drive, and can still be ordered with a manual. But it’s now a 7-speed, not a 6-speed, Roadshow reports. And although the 992 Carrera still has a six-cylinder engine, it’s now twin-turbocharged.
As a result, while the 2010 911 Carrera S’ 3.8-liter engine makes 385 hp and 310 lb-ft, the 992’s 3.0-liter engine makes 443 hp and 390 lb-ft. Which means the 997.2 is slower than the 992. The former goes 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, while the latter does it in 3.6 seconds. And that’s with the manual. The 997.2 911 Carrera introduced Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK, which is 0.4 seconds faster to 60, Autoblog reports. It’s even faster in the 2020 model; Car and Driver reports a 0-60 time of 3 seconds flat.
In terms of features, both generations of Porsche 911 Carrera are fairly similar, Automobile reports. Their options lists include GPS navigation, ventilated and heated seats, and Porsche’s active suspension. Stability and traction control are standard on both, as are high-quality interior materials.
However, unlike the 2010 model, the 2020 911 Carrera has a WiFi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and several driver-assistance features, such as automatic emergency braking. Also, manual 992s come included with the Sport Chrono Package, Car and Driver reports. That adds a limited-slip differential, additional stability control and driving modes, and dynamic engine mounts.
Driving the 997.2 and 992 911 Carrera S
So, in terms of acceleration and standard features, the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S edges out the 2020 model. But as YouTube team Throttle House explains, Porsche’s iconic sports car was never solely about either of those things. Its reputation is based on its ability to balance speed, luxury, refinement, and driving fun.
When it was new, the 997.2 car delivered all that in spades. It’s a repeat Automobile All-Star due to being “a celebration unbridled of driving joy.” The steering delivers excellent feedback, Autoweek reports, meaning you’re never unsure of what the car is doing. And while the shifter has slightly-long throws, it’s still a delight to use. Overall, the 997.2 911 Carrera S is viscerally exciting when you want it to be, but refined when you don’t.
The 992 911 Carrera S, though, is arguably even better. It won Motor Trend’s 2019 Best Driver’s Car competition and is a 2020 Automobile All-Star. The latter calls it “an automobile bordering on driving perfection.” To paraphrase MT, the 992 takes everything the 997.2 does and makes it even better.
To be fair, the 2020 model isn’t perfect. Its piano-black interior trim is overly reflective and feels a bit cheap, MT reports. The ride is also a tad firm, Automobile reports, and the seats might be slightly too low for some. Plus, although the 992 is more refined and easier to drive than the 997.2, it’s lost some of its character.
Then there’s the price gap.
Is the new model worth the upcharge?
A base 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S starts at $115,100; the example Throttle House drove costs the equivalent of $119,200. In contrast, the 2010 911 Carrera S in that video costs the equivalent of $45,270. You could buy two 997.2 911s for the price of one 992.
And that 2010 model’s price tag isn’t ridiculously low. That’s about the average price of a 997 on Bring a Trailer. And well-maintained manual examples can be found on Autotrader for about $55,000. Plus, unlike the 997.1 and non-Turbo 996, the 997.2 doesn’t have the dreaded IMS bearing problems, PCA reports. This means that $70,000 savings are more than enough for years of regular maintenance.
Ultimately, choosing between the two Carreras is a matter of personal preference—and finances. For daily-driving, the 2020 Porsche 911 out-classes the 2010 one, while still being fun to drive on normal roads. But not only is the 2010 model cheaper, but it’s also more viscerally thrilling, if not quite as sharp or neutral.
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