LA Auto Show: The new Porsche 911 comes home

Porsche goes digital with the new 911, but not without adding power and new features, many of which will be standard in Singapore

LOS ANGELES, USA — Perhaps the most hotly-anticipated new car launch of all at LA is for this, the new Porsche 911. In more than half a century the iconic sportscar is only in its eighth generation, so a new one is always big news.

Codenamed 992, the new car is instantly recognisable as a 911, though Porsche says the design is “completely new”. There are obvious giveaways to look for. The door handles are now electric pop-out items, so the sides are now smoothly contoured.

The bootlid has a deep recess that evokes early 911s, and the rear end has a light bar that stretches across its width (another subtle nod to classic 911s) along with a much wider rear spoiler integrated with a third brake light.

992 is also wider than 991, particularly at the wheelarches, which now house 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels. The rear width is now the same across all model variants. Most of the body panels are now made of aluminium.

It’s probably hard to tell, but the headlamps are also new.

Inside, the new 911 borrows a leaf from the Panamera’s book. A 10.9-inch touchscreen dominates the dash, with five buttons underneath it retained for fast access to crucial features.

As for the instruments, Porsche openly says it drew inspiration from the 1970s. A central rev counter is flanked by two slender, frameless digital displays.

Porsche only launched Carrera S and 4S models (saving the entry-level non-S models for later), which now get 450 horsepower, 30 more than before. “The 911 has spent many hours in the gym,” the chief executive of the sportscar maker, Oliver Blume, said.

Both now crack four seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint time — 3.7 seconds for the Carrera S and 3.6 seconds for the Carrera 4S. You can chop another 0.2 seconds off those times by fitting the optional Sports Chrono Package.

The top speeds are now 308 km/h and 306 km/h for both versions, respectively.

The extra power from the engine is the result of heavy re-engineering. There’s a new layout for the turbocharger and intercooler setup, along with a revised fuel injection system.

Also new: an eight-speed PDK twin-clutch auto, although true enthusiasts will rejoice that a manual option is forthcoming.

There’s an interesting new Porsche Wet mode for days when the roads are sodden; when the 992 detects water on the road it preconditions the control systems and warns the driver, who can then set up the vehicle for “emphasis on safety” by pushing a button or using the mode switch on the steering wheel if the car has the Sport Chrono Package. Porsche didn’t say what that means, but it’s likely to make power delivery more gentle and amp up the traction control’s intervention.

The 911 also gains autonomous emergency braking with a system to monitor moving objects as standard, Also standard equipment for Singapore will be electric folding wing mirrors, a reversing camera, and Porsche Entry & Drive.

Before the LA show got underway, talk had been rife about a plug-in hybrid version of the 911. That may yet materialise, but at its launch Mr Blume spoke of a different kind of eco friendliness. More than 70 percent of all the 911s ever built are still running, he pointed out. “That’s sustainability.”

Mr Blume also took pains to mention that since the late 1980s, the 911 has become 70 percent more powerful yet 30 percent more fuel efficient.

Whether or not the 992 gains hybrid drive, Porsche is pushing ahead with digitalisation in other ways. Mr Blume launched Porsche Road Trip, an app with curated drive routes. You don’t need a Porsche to use the app, but the assumption is that it would be more enjoyable with one.

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.