Eighth Wonder Officially revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the eighth generation 911 – the 992 – subtly evolves the lineage, mixing fresh styling with new technology… Story: Simon Jackson. Photography: Porsche.
992 REVEALED! NEW 911 Our unmissable in-depth analysis of the new eighth generation 911…
CHIEF DESIGNER Michael Mauer talks 992 styling…
THE TRUTH ABOUT A 992 HYBRID – will they, won’t they?
HEAD OF 911 August Achleitner’s engineering insights…
There was little that we didn’t already know about the 992, the eighth generation of all-new Porsche 911 which, as expected, majors on evolution not revolution. Spy shots, videos, artists impressions and bits and pieces of information on specifications have been (deliberately) emerging from Zuffenhausen for some time. In fact a quick bit of internet research would have revealed virtually undisguised 992s being tested all over the world as far back as the summer. Nonetheless what you see here is officially the real deal, revealed to the world on the eve of the L.A. Auto Show at the Porsche Experience Centre Los Angeles.
Unmistakably 911, the new car boasts a more muscular stance than its predecessor, employing the design language of its stablemates in places both inside and out, but it also features new Porsche advents.
The 992’s outer skin is now made almost entirely from aluminium, with the exception of the front and rear ends. Enlarged wheel arches swallow staggered 20- (front) and 21- inch (rear) alloy wheels, dimensions which match those of the second-generation 991 GT2 RS. Importantly there will no longer be narrow and wide body 911s, all will feature wider haunches at least as wide as those reserved for Turbo and GTS models. In profile the 992 appears smoother than its forebear, that’s in part due to flush-mounted electric pop-out door handles. The distinctive nose of this new car is 45mm wider than the vehicle it replaces, it wears new LED headlights which frame a restyled bonnet which features a pronounced recess. It is, however, the rear end that has seen perhaps the most obvious changes. A large adjustable rear spoiler sits above a single piece light bar which runs the width of the car, it’s a design statement we’ve seen emerging across the Porsche family of vehicles recently.
Rumour has it that all 992s will be turbocharged, even the GT models, for now all we officially know is that the Carrera models remain so powered. Hikes in performance have been delivered to the Carrera models unveiled so far, which for now include Carrera S and Carrera 4S. We expect the entry-level Carrera and other Carrera derivatives (such as cabriolets) to be revealed early next year, going on sale by summer 2019. It will likely be the end of next year before we see Turbo and GTS models.
Thanks to an improved direct fuel injection process and a new setup for the twin turbochargers and the intercooler system, the turbocharged flat-six engine in the S now develops 450hp, an increase of 30hp on the old car. We anticipate the common or garden Carrera to boast around 380hp from the same EA9A2 engine – an increase of 15hp on the old second-generation 991 Carrera. The rear-wheel-drive 992 Carrera S coupé can hit 62mph in 3.7 seconds, the all-wheel drive Carrera 4S in 3.6 seconds – that’s four tenths of a second quicker for each than their respective forebears. Cars equipped with the Sport Chrono Package are able to hit the benchmark speed 0.2 seconds quicker still. The Carrera S will top out at 191mph, the 4S 191mph. Porsche claims fuel consumption of 31.7mpg on the combined cycle for the Carrera S, 31.4mpg for the Carrera 4S with 205 g/km CO2 and 206 g/ km CO2 respectively. Power is translated to the road through a new eight-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission suitable for a future plug-in hybrid 911. It is approximately 50 percent smaller than the seven-speed version it replaces but 20kgs heavier, though there is no mention of a manual gearbox option at this stage though this will be made available in time.
Inside comes a completely new vista. Pleasingly the central rev counter remains analogue, but either side of it comes a digital dashboard, an evolution of what we’ve seen before in 911 cockpits. The Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system has been enlarged to 10.9-inches, it features a new layout designed to make it easier to operate while on the move – the PCM system is permanently connected and includes online navigation and Porsche Connect Plus. Underneath the larger screen sit five traditional buttons, these provide access to vehicle functions such as stability systems and adaptive suspension settings.
Making a reappearance are the now familiar drive mode options, selected either via a traditional button or the steering wheel mounted rotary dial on cars specified with Sport Chrono. Drivers can select various drive modes including a new one – Porsche Wet mode. This setting detects water on the road via a wheel arch-mounted sensor, it prepares the car’s systems accordingly. In addition, the 992 supports Night Vision Assist with a thermal imaging camera (the first time this has been available on a 911), new levels of connectivity utilise swarm intelligence whereby the car can communicate and learn about its surroundings from outside sources, such as other vehicles. Similarly warning and brake assist systems, fitted as standard, can detect the risk of a collision and activate emergency braking if required. Optional adaptive cruise control joins a stop-and-go function, reversible occupant protection and an autonomous Emergency Assist function.
Further digital advents come in the form of two new features which will appear on UK cars. The first is the Porsche Road Trip app, it is essentially a set of curated routes designed to help enthusiasts plan, organise and navigate during what Porsche calls ‘special trips’. The app offers hotel and restaurant recommendations, and notifies drivers about points of interest and viewpoints along the route. The second new feature is ‘Porsche Impact’ – an emissions calculator for neutralising your individual carbon footprint. This estimates financial contributions that customers can make to offset their CO2 footprint, they can choose to invest from a list of certified climate projects all over the world focusing on biodiversity, hydro and solar power, and forest protection. We’ll bring you more in-depth analysis of these next month. Pricing for the 992 Carrera S coupé PDK starts at £93,110.00, that’s an increase of £3,292.00 over a second-generation 991 with PDK. The 992 Carrera 4S coupé (with PDK) is priced from £98,418.00, that’s £3,614.00 dearer than a similar version of the outgoing model. Porsche Centres in the UK and Ireland are taking orders now.
Porsche Chief Designer Michael Mauer talks us through the 992’s design elements…
Michael Mauer makes no bones about the exhausting task from which he and his team of designers have just emerged, and the gravity of having to rework a car as iconic as the Porsche 911. Here is a vehicle with lineage, it must evolve and yet at the same time retain so much of what has come before – you might envisage the task to be something of a poison chalice…
“With the 911’s strong history and track record – with seven predecessors – to create new elements and yet stick at least partly to the history is challenging,” Mauer says, placing emphasis on the final word in his sentence. “On the exterior we wanted this pure and clean look – that was not easy as we [as designers] wanted to have a closed section for example where somebody else, engineers perhaps, wanted to have an air intake.”
Without doubt every 911 has key design elements it must retain, Mauer has two key ones in mind which for him define the model: “We have a differentiation between brand identity and product identity: the 911 should always have round headlights – it’s part of its identity. But for me the most iconic part of the car is the side view – that flyline as we call it, because the car’s engine is in the back it has special proportions…”
Undoubtedly the 992 moves the 911 story on in futuristic fashion, but it also makes more than just a passing reference to the past. There are numerous reference to cars of old – the dashboard screams of classic 911, even the font is reminiscent of the 911 SC. Mauer however is clear about one particular model which served as inspiration for his team.
“Whenever we start a project we have intensive discussions in the design department about the characteristics we would like to achieve – which are new and which are from the predecessor,” he explains. “We knew we wanted to have a more compact, more muscular look, we looked back into the history [of the 911] and saw that the first 911 Turbo, the 930 G series, would work as a kind of guideline for the new model.”
Gains in performance are cited as the main reason for the 992’s stance, its wider front track being one of the most striking elements in its makeup, but Mauer’s team did explore both narrow and wide body options before arriving at a decision to drop the tradition of the slimmer body Carrera. He cites engineering reasons for the wider front aspect, and the fact that this blended with a narrow rear end we’re told looked pretty odd.
So, how else does one ensure that any new 911 feels like such from the driver’s seat?
“It starts with the seating position, it has a typical Porsche feel – to be part of the machine. We needed [to introduce] more screens to give information to the driver, but it was tricky for us to combine the new elements like this with the old – for example the old-style rev counter in the middle of the dashboard,” he says.
The 992 is unmistakably 911 and in that regard Mauer has succeeded in his task, but its design manages to be fresh too with all-new design cues, the most distinct element being the wrap around rear light bar –it serves as design statement for the car, and it’s this facet that Mauer cites as being one of his favourite aspects of the 992: “Whenever a 911 passes by you should first immediately recognise that it’s a 911,” he says. “Then secondly that it’s the new model…” Mission accomplished we’d say.
Head of 911 model line, August Achleitner discusses the engineering challenges of developing the new 911…
Designing new cars at present is not for the faint of heart. Recent Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) emissions regulations are causing havoc, the extent to which is far deeper than perhaps we all realise. The new regulations have, without doubt, left their mark on the new 911, and that’s chiefly thanks to the lateness of their definition by the world’s governing bodies – particularly the EU. “The emissions requirements were only defined at the beginning of 2017, that gave us just a little bit more than one year to complete development of the 992,” Achleitner says. “That’s a very small amount of time…”
When you consider that only 10-15 percent of this car has been carried over from the 991, that amount of time seems shorter still, which has invariably led to development issues in certain areas. “At the beginning of the 992’s development we considered fitting particulate filters (see p71), we were unsure if we needed these but it was a consideration – that really helped us in the last phase of development as they ended up being necessary. We have two particulate filters right at the end of the car, which is not an ideal position, and they each weigh 15kgs…” Clearly Achleitner would rather this wasn’t the case, but needs must.
The filters have undoubtedly played a part in making the 992 heavier than its predecessor by around 50kgs. Achleitner admits that the team considered making cuts to the rest of the car’s makeup to counter this, even contemplating ditching the staggered 20- and 21-inch diameter wheels for example. Yet, while that might have shaved weight it would have ultimately have cost performance. The use of aluminium has helped reduce weight by about 20kgs, but there are further areas where weight has been added. The new eight-speed PDK gearbox is 20kgs heavier than the old seven-speed ‘box, despite being around 50 percent smaller, the reason being that it has been designed with space for a hybrid drivetrain – an addition to the 911 model range that might be called for in the near future (though certainly not before the arrival of the second generation 992) – see test.
What, we wonder, have been the biggest changes between the 991 and 992 generation of 911?
“The bigger track at the front, and offering the car with the wider body only, have been the biggest changes,” Achleitner confirms. “Having a wider track at the front and a smaller one at the back would not have looked good. Also the wide body cars are always popular and sell well… Of course you lose a bit of differentiation between C2 and C4, but with this we are able to transmit more rolling forces over the front axle, that means we have less to transmit over the rear axle – that leads to better traction at the rear out of the corners.”
These changes at the rear of the car have also allowed for the rear suspension setup to be softened, in combination there has also been a slight reduction in tyre pressures which all improves ride quality. “Ride comfort is also improved by new damper technology, where we can change the damper forces during the travel of the wheel on rebound to give the car faster reactions,” says Achleitner.
Though 60 percent of the 991 Carrera’s 3.0-litre flat-six engine makeup has been carried over from 991 to 992, the motor is unchanged internally and retains its EA9A2 internal code. However it is both more powerful and more efficient than the outgoing engine, utilising larger turbochargers, in addition it uses a new mounting concept – the engine being mounted in the car using longitudinal beams affording better rigidity. This is something that we’re told will really pay-off when the convertible version of the 992 appears in due course.
“The efficiency of the engine is better than before, we have more power – the same as the previous GTS model – we achieve that through bigger turbochargers and a new position for the intercoolers. On the predecessor the intercoolers were positioned behind the rear wheels, now they are in the middle of the car just below the air intake grille. This provides better efficiency through improved air flow,” we’re told. “Also, for years we used the VarioCam system where we used the same strokes for the intake valves, now we have different cams and we can use different, smaller stokes – this leads to a better flow in the combustion chamber,” August says proudly. “We have also used new injectors leading to better fuel efficiency of the engine, you can see this on the dashboard by the car’s consumption figures. Compared with the 991, the 992’s fuel efficiency is about two to three percent better.”
Achleitner is clear about which part of the new car’s driving characteristics are most impressive.
“One of the biggest improvements is the Wet Mode. Competitors have a similar system, but we have an automatic setting where the car detects water on road and changes the characteristics of the ABS system and the traction control, making a recommendation to the driver to change driving style. The systems only begin to stabilise the car when you reach the limit [of handling].”
Achleitner hints that the new Wet Mode is responsible for a Nürburgring lap time which is some five seconds per lap quicker than the outgoing 991, and he implies that this could’ve been a greater improvement still were it not for a requirement to balance the system between wet and dry running capabilities. As usual with any new 911, on the outside not much has changed upon initial inspection, but under the surface it’s quite a different story…