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Porsche 911 gets bolder, faster

Improving perfection: a mid-life facelift aims to differentiate the 911 from Boxster.

The world's most popular supercar is to get more power and bold new Turbo looks

4 Jun 2001

PORSCHE's quintessential supercar, the 911, will receive a bold mid-life make-over for model year 2002 - and the first of the new Turbo-look Carreras will lob Down Under in just four months.

Good news is the facelift will include a larger, more powerful boxer engine and fresh new interior and exterior styling, but the catch is 911 pricing will increase for the first time since the previous generation 993 version appeared.

The changes will bring the volume-selling 911 Carerra models closer to the flagship 911 Turbo in terms of both performance and styling, and further ahead of a brace of new performance metal launched since the current generation 996 model's release here in January 1998 - including Porsche's own Boxster S.

The 911 facelift also answers criticism from owners and the media that the $182,000 Carrera's look is now not dissimilar to that of the $68,000 less expensive Boxster.

Local pricing is yet to be confirmed but is expected to increase marginally.

"What we're saying is that the 911 range will rise in price between two and 2.5 per cent when the updated model arrives," Porsche Cars Australia's Matthew McAuley told Automotive NetWorks.

"It will be the first 911 price rise in seven or eight years, and that's apart from the added value it's experienced during its model life, such as extra airbags and the like."Externally, the 911 will receive larger, rounder headlights lifted directly from the Turbo, plus a longer, more pointed front bumper said to be aerodynamically superior while increasing airflow to the brakes and improving stability at speed.

Also following the Turbo theme, new Carreras will have a bigger, squared-off rear bumper and twin oval exhaust pipes instead of the old car's smaller round pair, while a range of fresh wheel designs and paint colours complete the 2002 look externally. In essence, think 911 Turbo without the ground-hugging splitters, scoops and huge alloys.

Meantime, upgraded interior plastics and fabrics are aimed at producing a more substantial look and feel, along with improved seats and a wider choice of options. The new interior will also grace Turbo and GT2 models for MY2002.

Styling aside, performance buffs will rejoice in the increased capacity of the standard 911's flat six, which will grow from 3.4 to 3.6 litres - the same as the turbocharged engine. In a bid to streamline production, the move reduces the number of six-cylinder Porsche engine displacements from four to three.

This and the addition of the Turbo's more advanced VarioCam Plus variable valve timing system - which varies lift as well as inlet valve timing - produces an extra 14kW, raising peak power from 221kW to 235kW and maximum torque by 20Nm to a storming 370Nm.

The result is that the 911's top speed is now 285km/h and, more significantly, claimed 0-100km/h acceleration has dropped from 5.2 to five seconds flat.

Putting aside the fact Porsche's claimed performance figures are notoriously conservative, the improved performance keeps 911 ahead of both BMW's new M3 and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz C32, which claim figures similar to the current 911, and bring its performance closer to that of the premium supercars like the Ferrari 360 Modena (4.5 seconds) and 911 Turbo (4.2 seconds).

Tractability has never been a 911 problem, but the improved torque curve is said to enhance mid-range response and, along with the aerodynamic changes, lift fuel economy by up to five per cent.

The first facelifted Carraras will arrive in Australia in October, just two months after their appearance in Germany, followed by the Cabriolet, which also gets an all-new soft-top design including, finally, a glass rear window. Expect facelifted versions of the all-wheel drive Carerra 4 by November, the same month the new glass-roofed 911 Targa is due.

Due three months later in February, 2002, is the 911 Carrera 4S - essentially a naturally-aspirated version of 911 Turbo without some of the flagship's aggressive styling features.

Before all that, however, 10 well-heeled Porsche fanatics will take delivery of this year's Australian allocation of the rear-drive turbo GT2. Expected around July, the $400,000 GT2 offers a staggering 340kW and 0-100km/h acceleration of 4.1 seconds, and our 2002 allocation of a further 10 cars will only just satisfy demand.

Further afield, Porsche is expected to reveal a coupe version of the super successful Boxster and the mother of all supercars, the Carrera GT - both in 2003. Just a year later a new 911 is due, while a front-engined V8 928 replacement is likely to appear by around 2005.

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