Next-gen Porsche 911 debuts
Automotive icons don't come much larger than the Porsche 911.
And the German brand has lifted the veil on the eighth-generation of its sports coupe, revealing a familiar shape with predictably evolutionary styling cues together with the lightly altered dimensions and contemporary digital based interior appointments of the much anticipated 2019 model, which is on sale now in coupe guise and planned for Australian delivery during the first half of next year.
One of the key attractions at this week’s Los Angeles motor show, the new Porsche adopts a revised horizontally opposed six-cylinder petrol engine featuring a new fuel injection process for added combustion efficiency among a number of significant upgrades aimed at increasing its competitiveness against a growing league of two-door rivals.
The turbocharged 3.0-litre unit, which continues to be mounted in its traditional position at the rear, offers greater power in all its configurations and can be mated to either a standard seven-speed manual or new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
In the new rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera S, which will cost $265,000 (plus on-roads), and four-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4S that will cost $281,100, and will form part of the initial launch line-up, the reworked powerplant delivers 22kW more than before at 331kW. Together with the revised gearing of the 911’s new dual-clutch gearbox, this results in a 0.4 second reduction in the 0-100km time for both the launch models at 3.7 seconds and 3.6 seconds respectively.
These times are lowered by a further 0.2 seconds with the inclusion of the optional Sport Chrono Package, which brings launch control, revised gearbox software allowing faster gear shifts and a sport response function for added performance, providing the new 911 Carrera 4S with a 0-100km/h time that is a full 0.6 seconds inside the time of the outgoing 911 Carrera 4 GTS at just 3.4 seconds.
Despite the claim of improved aerodynamics, top speeds are little changed from the outgoing seventh-generation 911, with the Carrera S put at 308km/h and the heavier Carrera 4S boasting a claimed 306km/h. Combined cycle fuel consumption on the superceded European NEDC cycle are also close to the old 911 at 8.9L/100km and 9.0L/100km respectively.
Known under the internal codename 992, the new 911 has been extensively re-engineered with a new platform structure featuring a greater amount of aluminium within its rear section forming its base for improved front-to-rear weight distribution. It also receives a revised chassis, which brings rear-wheel steering to both Carrera and Carrera S models for the first time in a move Porsche claims provides it with added agility and improved high-speed stability.
Stylistically, the new 911 continues the evolutionary theme that has characterized all of its various predecessors since the introduction of the original in 1963. The 2019 model pictured here in production guise for the very first time is the second to be wholly designed under the guidance of Porsche design boss Michael Mauer, who also oversees the design activities for the whole of the Volkswagen Group.
Overall, the initial coupe model takes on a more muscular appearance with tauter surfacing and added width to the rear fenders. In a departure from tradition, Porsche has done away with its long-held habit of offering two body structures in differing widths; instead it has opted to provide the new 911 with one standard body featuring rear fenders described as being slightly wider than those on the wider body of the old model.
Up front, there is a newly designed bumper with a more prominent splitter element along its leading edge as well as a trio of larger cooling ducts – those mounted outboard featuring three horizontal louvres each to better channel air to the front-mounted radiators. Above the outer cooling ducts, Porsche has fitted new slim-line LED driving lights that, like those of the old model, also double as indicators units.
The 992 designated model also adopts a longer bonnet with more angular leading edges and a more defined indent though its middle section as well as reshaped headlamps featuring a more rounded shape than the elliptical units of the earlier 991 as well as a new LED matrix function. The new headlamps are mounted within visibly wider front fenders with slightly larger wheel houses than before – that on the right continuing to house the fuel filler flap for the front-mounted fuel tank.
Further back, the exterior mirrors continue to be housed on frameless doors, but they have been restyled and enlarged slightly. The door handles are also new and now sit flush with the body when the door is closed for added aerodynamic efficiency. Classical elements such as the comparatively upright windscreen and shape of the glasshouse have been brought over without much change.
At the rear, there is a wider window with more rounded top edges than that used by the old model, a newly developed spoiler element that deploys in various stages from the top of the engine lid to provide added downforce at speed and revised LED tail lamps that, in a move mirroring that of other recent new Porsche models, are now connected in the middle by a distinctive full width LED light band.
Other changes include new Porsche identification, revised model badges that include the 911 name for the first time and a more heavily structured rear bumper featuring a wide black valance cover that houses both air ducts for the engine bay and large oval tailpipe openings.
While Porsche has yet to divulge the standard wheel sizes, it says the 911 will accept the same size wheels as its predecessor, with 20-inch accommodated up front and 21-inch at the rear
The new 911 has increased in every vital exterior dimension, though the only confirmed measurement is a 45mm increase in its front track. However, officials from Porsche’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany have told Drive it also uses a slightly longer wheelbase than its predecessor for improved packaging.
The interior of the new Porsche has received a more noticeable update than the exterior with a dashboard the German car maker says has been inspired by that used by 911 models from the 1970s. It features a more angular design than that used by more recent 911 models and comes with a new multi-function steering wheel fitted with the sports response rotary dial first included in the outgoing 911 that allows the driver to alter the driving modes.
The classically shaped five-dial instrument binnacle receives a central analogue rev counter but digital displays for all other information conveyed to the driver. There is also a standard 10.9-inch touchscreen monitor within the centre of the dashboard for the Porsche Communication Management system, which groups the infotainment and other connectivity functions, including online navigation featuring swarm based data, together in a central unit.
Between the driver and front seat passenger is a newly arranged centre console. It houses a redesigned gear lever, electronic handbrake switch as well as a combination of touch-based and toggle style switchgear for ancillary functions.
The adoption of a new electrical architecture has also allowed Porsche to equip the new 911 with a series of new assistant systems, including a so-called wet mode that detects water on the road and suitably calibrates the Porsche Stability Management system; an adaptive cruise control function with automatic distance control; night vision assist with a thermal imaging camera; and a brake assist system which detects an impending collision and initiates emergency braking if necessary.
Other new functions include a trio of apps, which are being made available for the first time on the new 911. They include Porsche Road Trip, which is conceived to help in the planning, organising and navigating over selected routes, Porsche Impact, which allows you to calculate the financial contributions to climate projects required to offset CO2 emissions, and Porsche 360+, which is described as a personal lifestyle assistant.
Porsche has confirmed just one engine for the new 911 – the 331kW turbocharged 3.0-litre unit used by the initial Carrera S and Carrera 4S models, but Drive can confirm others are planned. They include a less powerful version of the horizontally-opposed six-cylinder in price leading Carrera and Carrera 4 models that will also form part of the launch line-up, as well as even more powerful variants in upcoming GTS and Turbo models.
Porsche is also developing plug-in hybrid versions of the latest 911. However, they are not likely to figure in the line-up until closer to a planned 2022 facelift, at which point in time the new model is planned to receive a 48-volt electric system that not only supports part-time electric drive but a new range of semi-autonomous driving functions.
Kable is one of Europe's leading automotive journalists. The Aussie expat lives in Germany and has some of the world's most powerful executives on speed dial.