These are the latest spy pictures of the next generation Porsche 911, which has been spotted testing on the Nürburgring track ahead of its anticipated launch in 2018.
This test mule, which is wearing modified bodywork from the recently revealed facelifted 911, is understood to be chassis testing for the next generation model. The only details that give away this car's true purpose are its extended wheel arches, which are understood to hide a wider rear and front axles.
Porsche's product cycles are typically eight years long. Given that the current 991 generation of 911 was introduced in 2012, and was facelifted in 2015, a launch for the next-generation model at the very end of 2018 in time for the 2019 model year seems likely.
The new 911 will be a crucial product for Porsche as it'll be the first to come with the option of a hybrid powertrain. Speaking to Autocar last September, Porsche engineers confirmed they were working on how to package a hybrid powertrain in the 911's body - something that could also account for the wider stance of this first test mule.
Porsche 911 product line director Erhard Mössle said Porsche "needs an answer" to Tesla and the Model S. "There are discussions," he said. "It’s clear that we have to do something. We have to meet the CO2 regulations in 2020. The technology available is not far away from meeting our goals for such a car in terms of range and charging speed.”
Porsche already has hybrid powertrains in its Cayenne SUV and Panamera saloon, with both cars using the same supercharged 3.0-litre petrol engine in combination with an electric motor. The 918 Spyder also features a hybrid powertrain, which mates a 4.6-litre V8 engine with two electric motors.
As well as the option of a hybrid model, Porsche is also considering an all-electric version of the 911 in the same vein as the Audi R8 e-tron.
However, this model is not seen as a guaranteed production car. Mössle said Porsche would need to “look at what is the right time and whether there is the need for it. It’s expensive and you never know if you will get your money back.”
Base models of the 911 are expected to use the same twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat six engine that made its debut in the facelifted 911 Carrera.
Mössle also confirmed the new 911 will sit on a modified version of the MMB platform used by today's car and feature only mild styling changes. "The 911 is always an evolution, not a revolution,” said Mössle. “It will always be step by step.”
Among the other innovations planned for the new 911 is an all-digital dashboard, based around the same technology as Audi's Virtual Cockpit, which currently appears in the TT, A4 and Q7 model lines.
Before the next-generation 911 comes to market, Porsche is expected to introduce its new 911 R in time for next year's Geneva motor show. That car, which has also been spotted testing recently, is designed to be a 'pure' 911, and is likely to pay tribute to the original 911 R, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017.