The latest incarnation of Porsche’s rear-engined sports car icon is revealed in rear-wheel drive Carrera S and all-wheel drive 4S Coupé models. Picture: SUPPLIED
The latest incarnation of Porsche’s rear-engined sports car icon is revealed in rear-wheel drive Carrera S and all-wheel drive 4S Coupé models. Picture: SUPPLIED

In the year that Porsche celebrates its 70th anniversary, the company left its biggest celebration until last when it revealed the 992, the eighth generation of the iconic 911 at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Always more about evolution than revolution when it comes to styling, deliveries of the latest 911 will begin in SA around the middle of 2019. It is all-new and features some significant developments, essential if it is to continue to retain its place in the league of performance cars.

Detlev von Platen, member of the executive board at Porsche responsible for sales and marketing, told me in LA that the company focused a great deal on driving performance with the latest generation, as you would expect. Much of that performance comes from enhancements to the twin-turbo flat-six boxer engine, which sees the Carrera S and 4S get a jump in power of 22kW to 331kW and 30Nm more torque at 530Nm.

New turbochargers, a revised cooling system and the first time use of piezo injectors all contribute to claimed performance improvements of up to 0.6 seconds in the sprint to 100km/h, with the all-wheel drive 4S achieving it in 3.4 seconds if fitted with the optional Sport Chrono Package. The top speeds are now 308 km/h (911 Carrera S) and 306 km/h for the all-wheel-drive version.  

The rear has a significantly wider, variable-position rear spoiler and a light bar connecting the tail lights. Apart from the front and rear sections, the entire outer skin is now made from aluminium. Picture: SUPPLIED
The rear has a significantly wider, variable-position rear spoiler and a light bar connecting the tail lights. Apart from the front and rear sections, the entire outer skin is now made from aluminium. Picture: SUPPLIED

Both also get a new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox. A manual gearbox will still be available of course. Porsche execs are always quick to promise that they will never do away with the traditional stick in the 911.

Though its evolutionary shape unmistakably continues long-held 911 styling tradition, the new 992 sports a more muscular look. Significantly wider wheel housings arch over the 20-inch front wheels and 21-inch rear wheels. The rear end is now the same width across all models, unlike before where only the higher-performance versions had flared rear arches.

At the front the body is 45mm wider, and there are new flush-integrated door handles that pop-out electrically.

The wide lower grille is there because the 992 has been designed and engineered with packaging for electrification in mind, confirms Von Platen. The company will not divulge further details at this stage but we have reported before on the likelihood of a 911 plug-in e-hybrid model.

That would fit not only with the packaging of the new 911 but also with Von Platen’s statement that there are now three powertrain strategies at Porsche — the internal combustion engine, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and full electromobility. The latter will initially come with the debut of the all-electric Taycan sports car currently in the final stages of development.

There is no doubt that the new 911 arrives at a point where more than ever it needs to be past, present and future all at once. While there is the possibility of an e-hybrid, in the meantime the latest generation is the first to include petrol particulate filters to reduce emissions as the automaker gets to grip with new global regulations and the ripple effects of Dieselgate.

That is only part of the tech, with Von Platen telling us that: “Heritage remains a key part of our cars. On the other hand, digitalisation is expected.”

A completely revamped interior features clear and straight dashboard lines with recessed instruments, as inspired by 911 models from the 1970s. The time-honoured central analogue rev counter remains, and is flanked by two digital displays. Picture: SUPPLIED
A completely revamped interior features clear and straight dashboard lines with recessed instruments, as inspired by 911 models from the 1970s. The time-honoured central analogue rev counter remains, and is flanked by two digital displays. Picture: SUPPLIED

That digitalisation is included in the new screens in the car, particularly the latest-generation Porsche infotainment and connectivity system in the enlarged 10.25 inch centre touchscreen. There are two digital screens in the instrument cluster too, but again heritage dominates with an analogue rev counter in the middle.

There are further nods to the 911’s past in the interior design too, including the wide narrow dashboard, the toggle switches below the central touchscreen and in the design of the air vents. One of the models on display at the show also had narrow wooden inserts, again a nice heritage touch if you want it and one which interestingly met with the approval of the vice-president of BMW Group design, Adrian van Hooydonk, as he found himself taking a discreet look at the new model.

There is another piece of tech that needs to be mentioned though. We have had rain-sensing wipers for years, but the new 911 is the first that can detect a wet surface and activate Wet Mode. Engineered for those who are slightly less skilled in handling a 911 in the wet, it detects the change in surface through noise sensors in the front wheel arches. It then pre-conditions the relevant driver assistance systems before telling the driver to switch the mode on.

We were somewhat surprised to find Von Platen willing to discuss the possibility of a 911 SUV. Yes, really.

“We had the 959 and 911 Safari. Perhaps this is something to think of, not as a full production model but as a niche model.”

The new Porsche 911 is expected in SA by mid 2019 priced at R1,708,000 for the Carrera S and R1,797,000 for the 4S including a three-year/100,000km Driveplan.