Friday, February 17, 2012

The new Porsche 991 Carrera S Preview

The new Porsche 991, designed post the Porsche debacle and eventual post VW acquisition of the brand, is one of the first of the new generation of cars that has come out of Stuttgart with the new VW parent brand touch. Porsche has claimed the new design has allowed the new 991 Carrera S to go around a track faster than the outgoing GT3. Quite an impressive claim.

Porsche and Volkswagen has always had a love and hate relationship with each other, and Porsche has leveraged VW many times in the past to spread development costs on cars such as the then new Cayenne as well as electronic development. Said platform eventually also became the Audi Q7 and the VW Touareg. 

Pictures taken by a good friend. Enjoy!

That being said, because Porsche is so small, their developments had always been a bit rough on the edges.  For example, the interior of my 996 had cheap "Lego" snap on plastic parts. The new interior of the 991 is quite impressive, and the design philosophy is a direct evolution from their Panamera.  I really like how refined the car is and how high the center console is. 

The engine cover has been minimized and to the point where almost all the engine is now covered by plastic. Makes me wonder why they even bother with an engine cover to begin with. The rear active spoiler is much wider and bigger now. I think this is great for the overall high speed performance and handling of the car, but it comes at a price -- the rear of the car just looks "off" to me when compared to previous generations. I believe this is because the larger and wider spoiler forced the rear headlights to be slimmer and squatter than the outgoing models. The line break from the spoiler just makes it look like the new 991 is wearing a cap on top of the headlights.

One last comment directed at Porsche: get rid of all the badges! The car looks like it's trying to hard with 2 rows of logos. Do you really need to list out P O R S C H E, 911 Carrera S? The car has been around the block long enough where I think almost everyone and their grandmother knows what a Porsche is.  And 911 was the original chassis model number -- not the actual name of the car!

I think one of biggest negative involvement from VW is the parent company's goal of reducing emissions and increasing fuel economy. This really doesn't quite make sense that they would think someone who is willing to spend over $100,000 on a high performance sports car would actually care about gaining one or two mpg. I really loved the mechanical steering of the 911 and my fear is that the electro mechanical steering will take that away. The Honda S2000 had it and I definitely felt disconnected from the road vs. the steering input from the 996. I'm also not sure about the automatic engine start/stop feature, and I wonder how that would affect the off the line performance of the vehicle. Long story short, just sounds like more stuff that could break!

"Porsche has introduced a number of new technologies in the 911. One of the most controversial of these is the introduction of an electro mechanical power steering instead of the previous hydraulic steering. This steering helps reduce fuel consumption, but some enthusiasts feel that the very precise steering feedback for which the 911 is famous is reduced with the new system. The cars also feature an engine stop start system which turns the engine off at red lights, as well as a coasting system which allows the engine to idle while maintaining speed on downhill gradients on highways. This allows for up to 16% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions over the outgoing models." Wikipedia.

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