Porsche makes 911 faster, adds tech to counter Tesla threat

November 28, 2018 06:01 CET

Porsche is making its 911 faster and adding more technology to keep its most lucrative model relevant as the industry shifts toward full-electric sports cars.

The latest 911, which debuts this week at the Los Angeles auto show, gets a new range of more powerful flat-six turbocharged engines paired with a newly-developed eight-speed PDK double clutch transmission.

The engines’ efficiency has been increased by an improved injection process, and a new layout for the turbochargers and charge air cooling system, Porsche said in a news release.

The 444-hp base Carrera S rear-wheel-drive model has 30-hp more than the current model. It accelerates from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in 3.7 seconds. Top speed is 308 kph (191 mph). The 911 Carrera 4S with all-wheel drive needs 3.6 seconds to do the sprint. Both cars are 0.4 seconds faster than the previous models, Porsche said.

Driver assistance systems include a “Wet” mode to make driving on damp roads safer. Customers can also order the car for the first time with a thermal imaging camera for better night vision.

The 911 has permanent connectivity that now also uses swarm intelligence, Porsche said.

The 911’s rear end is now the same width across all models, with a slimline center section.

The interior has been completely redesigned. The dashboard has clear, straight lines with recessed instruments, inspired by 911 models from the 1970s. It has a 10.9-inch central display screen.

The 911 is centerpiece of Porsche’s product portfolio and is a major reason for the brand’s consistent 15 percent-plus profit margins. But the iconic coupe is in a precarious position as more quick-accelerating, fast-charging and longer range full-electric cars enter the market to fight Tesla.

Hybrid dilemma

The 911 will not get a battery-powered version and a plug-in hybrid is unlikely anytime soon due to performance reasons. The Taycan, which will go on sale next year, will be Porsche’s first volume full-electric model.

The 911 has integrated electrical pop-out handles in the doors that help give it a tapered and smooth side contour.

The eighth generation 911 has been developed to accommodate a hybrid-electric drivetrain but Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said a plug-in hybrid currently would not fulfill performance demands for the hobby race track car expected by 911 customers.

The brand is considering a small, lightweight hybrid system that is not externally chargeable and would be similar to the technology used in motorsports, Blume told Automotive News Europe at the Automobilwoche industry conference earlier this month. It would not come before a mid-cycle product refresh well into the next decade.

The 911’s new interior has clear and straight lines, inspired by 911 models from the 1970s. Two thin, frameless freeform displays alongside the central rev counter supply information to the driver. It has a 10.9-inch central display screen.

The 911 Carrera S is available to order now. It starts at 120,125 euros in Germany.

You can reach Christiaan Hetzner at christiaan.hetzner@gmail.com.

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