New-generation 911, on sale now, is intended to improve the breed without altering it
Porsche has unveiled the eighth-generation 911, revealing a familiar shape and some evolutionary styling – but with a heavily revised range of six-cylinder turbo petrol engines that are more powerful than before.
The new 911 is available to order now in Carrera S and 4S forms equipped with a PDK gearbox, priced from £93,110 and £98,418 respectively. UK deliveries start next March.
The new Porsche is one of the biggest attractions at this week’s Los Angeles motor show. It adopts revised horizontally opposed six-cylinder petrol engines that feature a new fuel injection process for added combustion efficiency among a number of significant upgrades aimed at increasing its competitiveness against two-door rivals.
Sport Chrono Package provides the new 911 Carrera 4S with a 0-62mph time of just 3.4sec
The turbocharged 3.0-litre units, which continue to be mounted in the rear, offer slightly more power than their predecessors. They can be mated to either a standard seven-speed manual or a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
In the new rear-wheel-drive Carrera S and four-wheel-drive Carrera 4S, the reworked powerplant delivers 30bhp more than before, at 444bhp. Together with the revised gearing of the new dual-clutch gearbox, this results in a 0-62mph time that’s 0.4sec faster for both of the new 911 launch models, at 3.7sec for the Carrera S and 3.6sec for the Carrera 4S.
These times are shortened by a further 0.2sec with the inclusion of the optional Sport Chrono Package. This brings launch control, revised gearbox software that allows faster gearshifts and a sport response function for added performance. As a result, it provides the new 911 Carrera 4S with a 0-62mph that is 0.6sec inside the time of the old 911 Carrera 4 GTS, at just 3.4sec.
Despite the claim of improved aerodynamics, top speeds are little changed from the outgoing seventh-generation’s, with the Carrera S put at 191mph and the heavier Carrera 4S at 190mph.
Combined fuel consumption on the superseded NEDC cycle is also close to the old 911’s, at 31.7mpg for the Carrera S and 31.4mpg for the Carrera 4S.
Known under the internal codename 992, the new 911 has been extensively re-engineered. It features a new platform structure with a greater amount of aluminium in its rear section, improving 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 that, Porsche claims, provides the 911 with added agility and improved high-speed stability.
Porsche is also developing plug-in hybrid versions of the latest 911 for closer to the 2022 facelift
Stylistically, the new 911 continues the evolutionary theme that has characterised all of its 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 coupé model takes on a more muscular appearance, with tauter surfacing and added width to the rear wings. In a departure from tradition, Porsche has done away with offering two body structures in differing widths. Instead, it will provide the new 911 with one standard body that has rear wings described as being slightly broader than those on the wider body of the old 911.
Up front, a new bumper features a more prominent splitter element along its leading edge as well as a trio of larger cooling ducts. These are mounted outboard and feature three horizontal louvres, each to better channel air to the front-mounted radiators. Above the outer cooling ducts, Porsche has fitted new slimline LED driving lights that, like those of the old model, double as indicator units.
The 992 model also adopts a longer bonnet with more angular leading edges and a more defined indent through its middle section as well as redesigned headlights that have a more rounded shape than the elliptical units of the earlier 991-series 911. The new headlights, which feature matrix LED tech on some models, are mounted within visibly wider front wings with slightly larger wheel houses than before. The wing on the right continues to house the 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. Classic 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 that deploys upwards to provide added downforce at speed and revised OLED tail-lights that, in a move mirroring other recent new Porsche models’, are now connected in the middle by a full-width LED light band.
Other changes include new Porsche identification, revised model badges that feature the 911 name for the first time and a more heavily structured rear bumper with a wide black valance cover that houses air ducts for the engine bay and large oval tailpipe openings.
Porsche has yet to divulge the standard wheel sizes but says the 911 will accept the same sized wheels as its predecessor, with 20in accommodated up front and 21in at the rear.
The new 911 is bigger in every vital exterior dimension, although the only confirmed measurement is a 45mm increase in its front track. However, officials have told Autocar that it has a slightly longer wheelbase than before for improved packaging of the interior and drivetrain.
The cabin of the new 911 has received a more noticeable update than the exterior, with a dashboard that, Porsche says, has been inspired by that used by 911 models from the 1970s. It features a more angular design than today’s and comes with a new multi-function steering wheel equipped with the sports response rotary dial, allowing the driver to alter the car’s drive modes.
The traditional 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 10.9in touchscreen monitor within the centre of the dashboard for the Porsche Communication Management system. This groups the infotainment and other connectivity functions, including online navigation featuring swarm-based data, together in a central unit.
Between the driver and front passenger is a new centre console. It houses a newly designed gearlever, electronic handbrake switch and a combination of touch-based and toggle-style switchgear for ancillary functions.
The adoption of a new 12V electrical architecture has also allowed Porsche to equip the 911 with a series of new driving assistance systems. These include a so-called wet mode that detects water on the road and calibrates the Porsche Stability Management system accordingly; an adaptive cruise control function with automatic distance control; night vision assist with a thermal-imaging camera; and a brake assist system that 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. The Porsche Road Trip app is intended to help in planning, organising and navigating over selected routes. The Porsche Impact app lets you calculate the financial contributions to climate-based projects required to offset CO2 emission. Finally, the Porsche 360+ app is described as a personal lifestyle assistant.
Although Porsche has confirmed just one engine for the new 911 – the 444bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre unit used by the initial Carrera S and Carrera 4S models – Autocar can confirm that others are planned. They include a less powerful version of the flat six in price-leading Carrera and Carrera 4 models, as well as even more powerful variants in future GTS and Turbo models.
Porsche is also developing plug-in hybrid versions of the latest 911. However, they are unlikely to figure in the line-up until closer to a planned 2022 facelift, at which point the new model is due to receive a 48V electric system that supports not only part-time electric drive but also a new range of semi-autonomous driving functions.
NEW 911 GT3 TO ADOPT TURBO POWER FOR THE FIRST TIME
Now that the 991-generation 911 has been revealed, attention is turning to the hardcore GT3 variant, which we’ve seen testing on public roads with minimal disguise. The GT3 is expected to consign an illustrious line of race-bred naturally aspirated performance engines to the history books, with sources close to Porsche suggesting it will adopt a turbocharged powerplant.
Although not yet officially confirmed, it would bring the 2020 911 GT3 and its more focused GT3 RS sibling into line with the rest of the range. Both are expected to use a twin-turbo 3.8-litre flat six shared with the upcoming 911 Turbo. Power will be brought down from around 570bhp in the Turbo to somewhere in the region of 513bhp for the GT3.
That’s a 20bhp increase over today’s naturally aspirated 911 GT3, but the biggest boost will come in the car’s torque output. In the 911 Turbo, this engine is set to produce 524lb ft between 2200rpm and 4000rpm. That compares with 339lb ft
between 6000rpm and 9000rpm for today’s GT3.
As before, expect weight-saving measures across the board, changes to the suspension over lesser 911s, and the choice of manual and dual-clutch automatic gearboxes. The GT3 is due to go on sale in 2020.
Anyone expecting the new 911 to be a radical departure was always going to be deluding themselves, and for two reasons.
One: when you’re tasked with replacing the most iconic and successful sports car in history, a conservative approach is preferable.
Two: although this is a new generation of 911, it follows the long-time 911 tradition where generations come in pairs. So just as the 993 generation was a heavily developed 964, and the 997 an optimised 996, so the 992 is derived from and informed by the 991.
So if you want a genuinely all-new 911 with zero design crossover, I’m afraid that you’re going to have to wait until around 2025, when the next 911 will be as revolutionary as was the 964 in 1989, the 996 in 1998 and the 991 in 2012.
Remember, too, that even generations have generations within them, and it looks likely that there will be as much to discuss when the ‘gen 2’ 992 breaks cover in around 2022 as now, because those are the cars that will bring hybridisation to the 911 for
the first time.
For now, though, I think Porsche has done a fine job with the car. It looks smoother, sleeker and more modern, but no less characterful. Finding a way to improve upon what was one of the prettiest 911 shapes was never going to be easy but, on the outside, it looks just as good to me.
Inside? I need to find out how well the new interior, with its TFT screens, works in practice, but one of the joys of 911s is that they have remained, in character at least, rather analogue cars in an increasingly digital world. At least they’ve kept the big central rev counter as a real (ie not digital) instrument and actually gone quite retro with its design.