The Car - Porsche 911
Touring the German origins of an icon.
2012 Porsche 911 Carrera VIDEO
That the Type 991 so thoroughly reflects established 911 values should come as no surprise. The factors influencing Porsche priorities have remained remarkably consistent from day one of the 911 series, as has the design philosophy addressing those priorities. That this amazing continuity of essential character is sustained into such a vastly improved new generation, however, is another accomplishment altogether; almost 90 percent of the car’s components have been redesigned or redeveloped, in one of the biggest evolutionary steps of its long and illustrious history.
The improvements start with the basic architecture. Extensive use of aluminum outer panels on the steel body shell results in a structure that’s lighter and stronger than its predecessor. It’s also far more rigid, for enhanced performance and crash safety. In addition, the wheelbase is expanded by almost four inches, and the rear axle now sits three inches farther rearward relative to the engine, resulting in better weight distribution and superior handling. But total overall length grows by only two inches, thanks to smaller overhangs on either end.
Engine power and efficiency have increased as well. Despite a displacement reduction from 3.6 liters to 3.4, the 991 Carrera still makes five more horsepower than the preceding 997 Carrera, and it gets up to 16 percent better fuel economy. The Carrera S stays at 3.8 liters and picks up an extra 15 horses with fuel-economy gains of as much as 15 percent. Porsche utilizes a host of new technologies to optimize the 991’s fuel consumption: the electromechanical power steering is a first for Porsche, as is the auto stop/start ignition, and the brand-new seven-speed manual transmission is a first from any manufacturer, worldwide.
Efficiency considerations extend to greater driver efficiency, too, by way of heightened interior comfort and ergonomics. Inspired by the 911 Carrera GT supercar, the revised center console places the shift lever within quick reach of the driver’s grip on the steering wheel, motorsport fashion, and important control buttons are well located beside the shifter base. New sport seats are fitted that have a wider range of adjustment, and there’s a larger, higher-resolution multifunction display screen. The simple, practical five-dial cluster of round analog instruments is still there, though, as is the familiar left-hand ignition switch, 911 staples from the beginning.
This is, in short, the technical pinnacle of 911 development and the essence of the entire 911 concept—fast, sporting, and well up to the rigors of the hardest of hard driving yet practical, comfortable, and virtually indestructible in everyday use and equally enjoyable in both circumstances. The 991 is living proof, if any were needed, that the 911 will always be with us, and that it will always define what Porsche stands for. Ferdinand Porsche would be proud.