All-new Porsche 911 uncovered
Deep Dive: 2011 Porsche 911
Porsche will launch an all-new 911 next year, a car that will be thoroughly re-engineered in the face of increased supercar competition, while also featuring refreshed exterior styling and a much higher quality interior. Here, Autocar looks at the tech behind the new 911, codenamed 991.
The new model retains the classic rear-engined layout of the 997 and every other 911 since the original was introduced way back in 1963, albeit with modifications to the engine mounting points, which have been optimised for improved weight distribution.
As with today’s 911, the front-end structure, complete with its MacPherson strut suspension, has been designed to be shared with the Boxster, a third-generation model of which is due to reach the UK in March 2012. The rear end, with its reworked multi-link suspension, remains largely unique, and the steering uses an electro-mechanical set-up.
Body and weight
The next 911 retains a predominantly steel platform structure and a body constructed from a combination of steel, aluminium and plastic composites. A series of weight optimisation measures has pared kerb weight by around 45kg in base trim, bringing the new 911 Carrera down to around 1525kg.
The engine line-up is based around upgraded versions of Porsche’s six-cylinder, direct injection petrol unit, boasting incremental increases in power and torque and slight reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
When UK sales get under way in 14 months’ time there will be a 3.6-litre engine with 365bhp and 295lb ft in the Carrera. It will be joined from the outset by a revised 3.8-litre powerplant delivering 415bhp and 325lb ft in the Carrera S.
Both engines will come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard; the seven-speed PDK (Porsche Doppel Kupplung) unit is an option, with shift paddles behind the wheel. Automatic stop-start and a brake recuperation system are also planned, helping to provide a claimed 12 per cent gain in city driving economy for the rear-drive Carrera and Carrera S.
The Carrera S will also receive a standard electronically controlled differential and, in the four-wheel-drive Carrera 4S planned for October 2012, an electronic torque-vectoring device to complement the existing model’s long list of driving aids. Further variants will follow in time, including more powerful versions of the Turbo, GT3 and GT2.
Porsche is tight lipped about a petrol-electric 911. “We’ve already got a Cayenne hybrid and we are working on a similar solution for the Panamera. However, the 911 is a totally different proposition in terms of performance, weight and packaging,” said an insider, hinting such a model is still some way off.
Despite further studies into electric versions of the 911, Porsche sources suggest they will not be offered for sale to customers. “We are investigating pure electric drive systems but no decisions have been made on their production future,” said our source.
Deep Dive: 2011 Porsche 911
Porsche feels that the best remedy for this decline in sports car sales is fresh product with advanced technology, and thus is preparing the most ambitious 911 update in years.
Unlike the current-generation 997, which was a thoroughly revised 996, the next 911, codenamed 991, is definitely brand-new. Big advances include a redesigned suspension (albeit still the same basic strut-front, multilink-rear setup), electrically-assisted power steering, a push-button handbrake, optional twenty-inch wheels, more powerful engines, and last but not least, a seven-speed manual transmission. That's right, seven. Additionally, the 991 is said to be about 100 pounds lighter and ten percent more efficient than the current car. To achieve that last aim, Porsche is refining the aerodynamics, introducing a new thermo-management complete with advanced battery management technology, and incorporating stop-start technology and brake energy regeneration. There will also be new high-performance capacitors, which can store -- and release -- more electric power than a battery alone. Predictably, the next 911 remains loyal to the traditional rear-engine layout, but to improve cabin space, directional stability, and the handling at the limit, the rear axle moves back nearly three inches.
The 991 also seeks to set new standards in the ride and handling. That's why the Carrera S gets more powerful, six-piston front brakes, Porsche Torque Vectoring, optional dynamic engine mounts and a bunch of suspension-related wizardries labeled PDCC. Depending on model and specification, the ride height will be lower by 0.4 to 0.8 inches and the brake discs will sport a larger diameter. The S model features twenty-inch wheels and quad tailpipes. The base Carrera can be identified by dual oval exhausts, black brake calipers and nineteen-inch rims. In all models, the motorized tail spoiler automatically extends at 60 mph.
Inside, one finds a cockpit layout inspired by the Panamera. This applies in particular to the more legible instruments and the wider centre console, which rises from the transmission tunnel to the dashboard. New options include third-generation radar-based cruise control, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, keyless ignition, a Burmester sound system, and even more elaborate power seats. Thanks to the four-inch wheelbase extension, the 991 is said to be more spacious, more stable, and more comfortable. In terms of engines, the evolution is mild, with slightly more powerful direct-injected flat-sixes. The Carrera will be powered by a 350-hp 3.4-liter unit (up 5 hp from today's base 3.8-liter), while the S model benefits from a beefier 3.8-liter rated at 400 hp. Although Porsche has plug-in hybrid applications in the pipeline, it is still tight lipped about power, range, price, and timing. And, of course, there will be the aforementioned new seven-speed manual gearbox, which has been derived from the PDK dual-clutch automatic. We can't wait to come to grips with its dogleg shift pattern.
One year after the coupe debuts, Porsche plans to launch the cabriolet. If you think you've seen it all when it comes to novel drop tops, then wait until you get a look at this open-air model, which ditches the classic canvas roof for a lightweight retractable hardtop covered with man-made fabric. As far as novelty value goes, you really couldn't ask for much more than that.