Porsche’s fuel for thought

Big econ­omy gain is a pri­or­ity in the next 911 in­car­na­tion, writes GOR­DON LO­MAS in Europe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

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.

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