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Porsche 911

991 Series 911

Porsche logo1 Feb 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

FORTY-NINE years after the original 901-series shocked the world when it was unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show, the third all-new Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe arrived in early 2012.

Even though it shares only about five per cent of parts with the outgoing 997, the all-new 991 series’ styling looks almost identical at first glance.

Helping to justify the price hike, the Zuffenhausen-built sports car is bigger, roomier and stronger but up to 80kg lighter than before.

It is also over 15 per cent more economical and significantly cleaner in emissions, yet demonstrably more powerful and measurably easier to drive at low speeds while providing greater supercar capabilities at the upper extremes.

Viewed in profile, the windscreen is now more convex, the silhouette more streamlined and coupe-like and the wheels larger, while the (now standard bi-Xenon) headlights, redesigned bumpers and narrower tail-lights also help differentiate new from old.

Not surprisingly, evolution continues to be the name of the 911 game, with the trademark ‘cannon barrel’ front wings, curved coupe glasshouse and sloping roofline defining the famous Porsche design.

Yet just the direct-injection engines and PDK transmission carry over, albeit in much modified, efficiency-enhanced form for this application. Both meet Euro 5 emissions targets.

The all-new body is 56mm longer at 4491mm and slightly lower at 1303mm, yet the 2450mm wheelbase has been stretched by a considerable 100mm in order to improve cabin space (if not aerodynamics, which stay at 0.29Cd). Front track width is 1532mm (S: 1538mm) while the rear is 1518mm (S: 1516mm).

Porsche created a Panamera sedan look and feel to the overall interior architecture, even though five overlapping instrument dials are once again part of the dashboard recipe. Among the changes are a completely redesigned console area, a lower seating position, an electronic park brake and dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning.

The lighter kerb weight combined with Porsche’s engine idle-stop function, an electrical system recuperation system, thermal management technology, and coasting function results in a more economical 911 – as well as a faster one.

The 3.4-litre direct-injection quad-cam 24-valve variable valve timing and lift (VarioCam Plus)-equipped water-cooled flat-six engine found in the base Carrera Coupe delivers 3kW more power than its 3.6-litre predecessor, at 257kW at 7400rpm and an equivalent amount of torque (390Nm at 5600rpm).

Meanwhile the Carrera S Coupe’s 3.8-litre flat six ups the ante to 294kW (gaining 11kW) and 440Nm (plus 20Nm) at the same engine speeds as the 3.4, for a 304km/h V-max.

To help provide a raspy engine soundtrack, Porsche has developed ‘The Sound Symposer’, which channels a variety of mechanical noises into the cabin at the will of the driver.

The front axle retains the same basic MacPherson strut formula but is all-new, as is the electro-mechanical power steering system that does away with the old 911’s hydraulic set-up.

At the back is another variation of the previous edition’s multi-link rear suspension system, with the wheels independently guided on five control arms.

The company’s Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) electronic dampers and Porsche Torque Vectoring system (PTV – consisting of a mechanical rear differential lock that helps vary torque between the rear wheels) are standard on the S.

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