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Detroit show: Porsche primes next 911 Cabrio

Cover's off: President and CEO of Porsche AG Matthias Muller unveils the 911 Cabriolet in Detroit.

Next Boxster imminent as new 911 Cabrio makes world debut ahead of local release

Porsche logo11 Jan 2012

By MARTON PETTENDY in DETROIT

PORSCHE has staged the global debut of its redesigned 911 Cabriolet at the Detroit motor show, just three months ahead of its Australian release in early April.

The new Cabriolet features an all-new folding roof system that for the first time gives the open-top 911 the same silhouette as its fixed-roof coupe sibling, which hits local dealerships next month.

Porsche has confirmed that the all-new 991-series convertible will be priced from $255,100, with the Carrera S version priced at $288,300.

As we reported in November, that represents a $25,200 base price premium over the new 911 Coupe, which is about the same as before and – as with the fixed-roof 991 models – represents price increases of 2.9 and 3.9 per cent.

Based on the seventh-generation 911 coupe, which rides on the first all-new 911 chassis since the 996 series of 1998, the 911 Cabriolet employs a revolutionary new patented fabric and plastic composite folding hood.

Supported by a magnesium frame, it features fabric-skinned composite upper and rear panels, and a glass rear window. The result is a more uniform shape with a tauter fit, which Porsche says gives it with a cleaner, smoother appearance, improved aerodynamics and greater refinement.

25 center imageThe new unit replaces the traditional multi-layered fabric structure of its forebears but folds into a large rear tonneau cover in the same way as the previous 911 Cabriolet’s roof, in a process that is said to take just 11 seconds at speeds of up to 60km/h.

In addition, the new 911 Cab also features an automatic wind deflector to reduce interior buffetting.

A similar plastic composite folding roof system should also appear on the third-generation Boxster, which will make its world debut at the Geneva motor show in March before arriving in Australia in July.

However, the next Boxster – first images of which are due to be released this Friday (January 13) – will also do away with the current model’s rear roof compartment lid.

Like the new coupe, the cabriolet will be initially available in downsized 3.4-litre Carrera and 3.8-litre Carrera S guises, both with new seven-speed manual and revised PDK dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

Despite riding on a 100mm-longer wheelbase, a 50mm-wider front wheel track and measuring about 65mm longer overall, the new 911 body comprises up to 45 per cent aluminium content, resulting in overall weight savings of almost 50kg.

As such, the topless 911 will bring the same efficiency gains as the coupe, although until the global launch next month Porsche continues to say only that both models will return combined NEDC fuel consumption of less than 10.0L/100km.

This is despite improved (but also unspecified) performance from more powerful 257kW and 294kW (Carrera S) flat-six engines.

Apart from an all-new body and chassis featuring redesigned front and rear suspensions, the new 911 comes with a Porsche-first electro-mechanical steering system and active handling technologies like Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, active roll-bars and Porsche Torque Vectoring locking differentials.

“Our engineers have built the best 911 in 48 years,” said Porsche AG president and CEO Matthias Müller when he presented the new 911 Cabriolet in Detroit. “That applies every bit as much to the coupe as it does to the cabriolet.”

Mr Muller said Porsche set an all-time sales record last year, exceeding 100,000 deliveries for the first time in a single year.

“In 2011, with 118,867 deliveries, Porsche set a new record in the company’s history. In 2012 we are planning to continue growing and will raise this record performance to new heights.”

Porsche, which has ambitions of selling 200,000 vehicles annually by 2018 under Volkswagen ownership, sold 1343 vehicles in Australia last year – up 6.1 per cent on 2010.

However, the only model to increase sales Down Under last year was the Cayenne SUV, which attracted some 803 buyers (up 34.3 per cent) and accounted for 60 per cent of all local Porsche sales.

The German manufacturer’s R&D chief, Wolfgang Hartz, recently told Automotive News the company would employ another 300 engineers this year and planned to spend more than 10 per cent of revenue on R&D, which is around double the industry average.

Although the Cabriolet is likely to be the final new 911 derivative to emerge in 2012, the 991-series model is expected to spawn at least as many variants as the previous 997 series (no less than 23), with all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 models due to emerge next.

Before then, Porsche will release the Panamera GTS sedan and MkIII Boxster roadster (April).

The third-generation Boxster will form the basis of the second-generation Cayman coupe due in 2013.

Also next year, Porsche will release its groundbreaking new 918 Spyder hybrid supercar, which will make its global debut in final production guise around the same time first deliveries commence – at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013.

Porsche recently revealed that the limited-edition hybrid supercar will be powered by a 4.6-litre V8 based on an engine first developed for the Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 racecar, rather than the 3.4-litre unit fitted to the original concept revealed at the 2010 Geneva show.

Its output is expected to top 410kW – about 40kW more than the 918 Spyder concept – but the production version will lose one of the show car’s three electric motors. The remaining two will continue to power the 918’s front wheels, adding 172kW of power and bringing combined output to at least 582kW.

The production 918 Spyder should be about 190kg heavier at around 1675kg, while overall length and width will grow by 150mm and 10mm respectively.

Just 918 examples will be produced, each priced at €645,000 (about $A800,000), but only in left-hand drive, making it a track special in Australia, where import and luxury taxes would see its price soar to well over a million dollars.

While Porsche is also planning a sub-Boxster compact roadster, a mid-engined supercar to slot between the 911 and 918 and (next-generation) Panamera coupe and convertible models, Zuffenhausen’s next additional model will be the Cajun compact SUV in 2014.

Based on the same platform as the popular Q5 from VW sister brand Audi, GoAuto understands the Cajun will be radically different to the Q5 and, like the Range Rover Evoque, will be available in both five-door wagon and three-door ‘coupe’ body styles.

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