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 1370kg.
The new car is marginally longer and wider than the existing 911 but the basic silhouette, while stretched slightly, remains largely unchanged, including the screen angles and length of the front and rear overhangs. The biggest change is the widened wings, which have been designed to accept wheels up to 20 inches in diameter.
Porsche Weissach-based designers, under the leadership of Michael Mauer, have reinterpreted the detailing, although again there are no major changes. Headlamps and tail-lights have been altered slightly and given new LED graphics, while the exterior mirror housings now sit outboard on the doors rather than in the blanked-off quarter panel at the base of the A-pillar.
The electrically operated rear wing has been reshaped for added aerodynamic efficiency and greater downforce at speeds above 75mph. Further active aerodynamic measures within the front air ducts may appear on the new 911 Turbo, due out in 2013.
Cabriolet versions of the next 911, due to reach UK showrooms in May 2012, will feature a fabric hood that operates on the go at speeds of up to 37mph and can also be activated from outside the car via the key fob.
As with the existing model, the roof structure stows under a plastic-composite tonneau cover to preserve the car’s lines. The interior is a big departure, with new mounting points for the dashboard and seats to provide incremental improvements in front and rear accommodation, helped by a longer wheelbase and slightly widened tracks.
While retaining traditional elements, such as the five-dial instrument binnacle, the cabin draws heavily on that of the Panamera and current Cayenne in terms of design and features. Boot capacity improves on the existing 911 at 140 litres — all concentrated under the new car’s reworked bonnet, ahead of its standard 68-litre fuel tank.
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.