New Porsche 911 is economy leader, but hybrid is on hold

Porsche’s new 911 (codenamed 991) was revealed to Wheels at an exclusive function at the company’s Zuffenhausen museum. The design language of the 991 will be familiar to all Porsche fans, but under the nipped and tucked bodywork is a very different 911.

The entry-level Carrera features a down-sized 3.4-litre flat-six engine (previously 3.6). Still, power is up to 257kW at 7400rpm, and torque remains 390Nm, though the smaller capacity means it’s now produced 1200rpm higher than before at 5600rpm.

The Carrera S, the only other 991 for now, retains its 3.8-litre engine, though power is up 11kW to 294kW at 7400rpm – that’s 900rpm higher than the 997 model. Torque is up 20Nm to 440Nm but again it’s 1200rpm higher in the rev range. Porsche engineers were quick to settle fears that the new engines are too peaky. And, of course, both the PDK and manual now have seven speeds to cover the rev range.

That’s right, the manual is the world’s first seven speeder. Mechanically very similar to the PDK just without the second clutch, it was chosen because the extra 100mm in the wheelbase meant the old six-speeder was too short.

Worryingly for fans of Porsche’s pure driving experience, the engineers seemed more excited about fuel economy improvements than telling us this was a potential Le Mans class winner. Admittedly, the numbers are impressive. The Carrera’s 3.4-litre engine consumes 9.0L/100km when fitted with the manual gearbox, or 8.2L/100km with the PDK. Those figures represent improvements of 1.3 and 1.6L/100km, respectively.

The larger-engined Carrera S consumes 9.5L/100km with the manual or an astonishing 8.7 with the PDK. Again, these numbers are substantial improvements over the 997 – 1.1 and 1.5L/100km, respectively.

However, contrary to pre-reveal rumour, there will not be a hybrid version of the 911 in this generation. According to August Achleitner, boss of 911 development, current hybrid technology, “doesn’t make sense for a sports car. Maybe in the future. Maybe in ten years.”

While many will claim they can’t tell the difference between new and old 911s, the 991 is starkly different when viewed together. At the museum, Porsche had lined up six of the seven generations of 911 (only the G-series 930 was missing) and with 997 and 991 side by side, it was obvious the new car is bigger and different. The 100mm longer wheelbase and 20-inch wheels on the Carrera S gives the impression of a much bigger car. The roofline is 10mm lower and the flow of the turret is faster. The pronounced signature rear hips are flatter and less rounded.

The impression of size continues inside and the Panamera influence is obvious. The centre console rises towards the dash like it does in Panemera and Cayenne. Porsche has obviously spent considerable effort on improving interior quality, but for my eyes it’s too GT and not sporty enough.

Not that you’d expect him to say otherwise, but CEO Mattias Muller said, “The 991 is the best 911 Carrera we have made. And as the other models roll out, it will become the best 911 ever made.”

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