Once upon a time, the 911 was Porsche's bread-and-butter product, but these days, the Cayenne and now the Panamera are easily outselling the sports car icon.
Not surprisingly, the competition is facing similar problems. Audi, for instance, has scaled down R8 output from more than thirty to less than ten units per day, and Chevrolet has cash on the hood of the Corvette (including the ZR-1).
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.