Porsche’s fuel for thought
Big economy gain is a priority in the next 911 incarnation, writes GORDON LOMAS in Europe
THE next all-new Porsche 911 could take a radical new approach to the building of a sports car. Instead of a traditional metal monocoque, there is growing talk in Germany of a lightweight aluminium spaceframe chassis with bolt-on panels to deliver a big gain in fuel economy.
Porsche has already ruled out smaller turbo engines, a path chosen by BMW with its ‘‘efficient dynamics’’ philosophy, and will stick with its established 3.6-litre flat six when the new model — unofficially the 998 — is released in late 2010.
‘‘Maybe aluminium is one of the possibilities because Porsche always likes to make a clever mix of all the materials,’’ says Erhard Mossle, product line manager for Porsche’s Carrera 4, 911 Turbo and Targa 4.
The 998 will be a revolutionary step forward, not just an evolution of the 997, Mossle says.
‘‘We have some possibilities — like the weight of the car is important in the future.’’ he says.
But Mossle rules out adding power to offset weight gains.
‘‘We are not going to do high weight and excessive power, which is what some of our competitors do,’’ he says.
And he points to the Audi R8, which uses aluminium but has a V8 engine, as too heavy.
Mossle hints there are significant gains available in fuel economy through more conventional methods instead of downsizing its boxer engines.
‘‘Downsizing is a back-up scenario for us to discuss, but it’s not the main stream we follow because in conventional matters we think we can do another big step in fuel economy.
‘‘Of course we can do a smaller engine and turbocharging, but this will be more expensive and will provide more problems in packaging.
‘‘I think also at the moment a lot of our competitors have 5-litre and 6-litre engines. We have a 3.6-litre, so we already have a downsized engine.’’
Mossle suggests Porsche will also take a big step ahead in driving dynamics after the introduction of its PDK double-clutch transmission on the freshened 911 Turbo next year, despite issues of handling the extra torque.
Porsche also says that, despite the extra weight, the C4 all-wheel-drive 911s will continue to have a future because of improvements in electronics and stability systems.
Range addition: the GT3 Cup S and the rest of the 911 range will be joined by a new model in 2010.