Porsche's new 911, which will be officially revealed at the Frankfurt Auto Show next month, will be sleeker, larger, lighter, more powerful, faster, less thirsty and, according to the maker, better to drive.
Known internally as the 991, the new 911 – the sixth truly independent model in an illustrious 48-year history – is set to make its world debut in Frankfurt motor show prior to going on sale in the U.S. in February of 2012. The rear-wheel-drive Carrera and Carrera S get things under way with base prices of $82,100 and $96,400, respectively. Cabriolet and four-wheel-drive variants will follow, and pave the way for a range-topping Turbo packing 523hp in 2013.
Developed under Porsche design boss Michael Mauer, the visual changes are subtle but effective enough to set the new car apart from its predecessor. Official dimensions are yet to be revealed, but Zuffenhausen insiders confirm the new car is 2.2in. longer, 2.6in. wider and 0.4in. lower than its predecessor at 176.8in. in length, 73.7in. in width and 51.1in. in height. The wheelbase has been extended by 4in. at 96.5in.
The traditional round headlamps are set on the front of a wider, slightly higher front bumper. The lights have been made bigger and house more complex internal graphics than before, and are complemented by new LED daytime running lamps on the leading edge of a reshaped bumper.
The rear is distinguished by new, thin LED tail-lamps. They sit underneath a prominent lip that forms the trailing edge of the engine lid and wrap further around the rear bumpers than before. Changes to the design of the rear wing, which continues to deploy at 75mph, help reduce lift without any detrimental effect on the low level of drag, according to Porsche.
In the interests of production efficiency and parts sharing compatibility with next year's Boxster and Cayman, the new 911 continues to be based around a unitary monocoque structure with a high-strength steel platform. But in a break from tradition, the new car receives a predominantly aluminum body shell, which Porsche says is 100lbs lighter than the outgoing 911's steel body.
As with the outgoing 911, the new model has a choice of two standard naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engines mounted aft of the rear axle line.
The big news concerns the downsizing of the base unit in the Carrera. It drops in capacity from 3.6 liters to 3.4 liters – the same as the Boxster S and Cayman S. But while the Boxster/Cayman S engine delivers 316hp, the new Carrera packs a sturdier 345hp at 6400rpm – up by 4hp over the old 3.6-liter engine. It also has 280lb-ft of torque.
The Carrera S continues with a 3.8-liter unit, but it has changes to the induction and exhaust which liberate an extra 14hp at 394hp at 7000rpm and this version boasts 324lb ft. At the rear, the Carrera continues to feature two oval exhaust pipes, while the Carrera S gets four round pipes.
The new model receives a new 7-speed manual gearbox – a first for a series production road car. It has been described as being closely related to the new car's optional 7-speed dual-clutch PDK gearbox. Both gearboxes have been engineered to support standard automatic stop-start and brake energy recuperation.
Porsche claims a 0-62mph time of 4.4sec for the Carrera with the optional PDK gearbox and Sports Chrono package (an improvement of 0.3sec), with the similarly specified Carrera S put at 4.1sec, or 0.3sec faster than before. No top speed claims have been made, but aerodynamic tweaks are said to allow the new Carrera to top 180mph, with the Carrera S extending beyond 190mph.
The new Carrera is claimed to deliver combined consumption of 34mpg with the PDK gearbox, a reduction of 6mpg on its predecessor. The Carrera S returns 32mpg.
There have been significant chassis changes as a result of the lengthened wheelbase in the quest to further improve the handling, grip and ride. Porsche confirms that the front track has increased in width while the multi-link rear axle assembly has been redesigned with new pick-up points in a bid to improved longitudinal stability and provide more secure lateral properties.
Porsche has dropped hydraulic steering actuation for a new electro-mechanical arrangement as part of the drive to reduce weight and lower fuel consumption. Another new feature is Active Chassis Control (PACC), an active stabilization system conceived to reduce roll and give greater wheel control for higher cornering speeds.
The new 911 will also come with Active Suspension Management (PASM), which will be optional on the Carrera and standard on the Carrera S. It features continuously variable dampers and different throttle mapping. Optional sports suspension brings firmer springs and dampers, reduced ride height and a more aggressively configured limited-slip differential.