Porsche hints at Hy­brid 911 for 2020

Mint ST - - RUSH -

The new Car­rera S and 4S, priced at $113,200 and $120,600, re­spec­tively, are built to ac­com­mo­date a hy­brid mo­tor and in­clude space for bat­ter­ies

Last week at a se­ries of pri­vate events at a cor­po­rate “ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tre” out­side Los An­ge­les, Porsche de­buted the eighth-gen­er­a­tion in­stal­ment of its 54-year-old sports car, the 2020 Porsche 911. Porsche showed the new 911, known in­ter­nally as 992, in two ver­sions for its world pre­miere: a two-wheel-drive 911 Car­rera S and an all-wheel-drive 911 Car­rera 4S. They each look nearly iden­ti­cal to their pre­de­ces­sors. The main al­lure of the 992 to Porsche en­thu­si­asts is the brag­ging rights as­so­ci­ated with hav­ing the very fresh­est 911.

Still, it’s ac­cu­rate to say this lat­est evo­lu­tion of the Ger­man coupe is more pow­er­ful, faster, and sleeker-look­ing than the ear­lier ver­sions. It is even ru­mored to have laid the ground­work for a hy­brid 911.

Porsche ex­ec­u­tives have stopped short of promis­ing a hy­brid but have for months said it’s a strong pos­si­bil­ity for fu­ture 911s. The 992 shows how it could be done: It has a new stream­lined eight-speed PDK gear­box (up from seven speeds pre­vi­ously) built in such a way that would eas­ily ac­com­mo­date a hy­brid mo­tor. It also in­cludes space for bat­ter­ies in the car, should the need arise.

In the mean­time, there are sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant if im­per­cep­ti­ble-to-the-ca­sual­eye ad­di­tions to tit­il­late the devo­tees who buy one. Pri­mary among them is the tur­bocharged flat-six en­gine that pro­duces 443 horse­power, a 23 hp im­prove­ment over pre­vi­ous mod­els.

There’s also the afore­men­tioned brand-new eight-speed PDK dual-clutch trans­mis­sion. That comes stan­dard. Yes, you read that right—if you want a man­ual ver­sion of the new Porsche 911, you’ll just have to wait. No com­ment from Porsche yet on when they’ll bring out the stick shifts, though a GTS ver­sion likely to have one is slated for 2019.

Fur­ther, a novel “Wet Mode” will be in­cluded as stan­dard equip­ment on all new 911s. It’s a sys­tem that de­tects wa­ter on the road and then ad­justs sta­bil­ity control and anti-lock brak­ing. An ad­di­tional cam­era-based brak­ing sys­tem, adap­tive cruise control, and op­tional night-vi­sion with ther­mal map­ping (avail­able in the 992 for the first time) round out the full ex­tent of the safety up­grade.

As has al­ways been the case with the Stuttgart-based brand, large amounts of time were spent re­fin­ing small de­tails. Over­all, it looks sub­tly rounder and lower than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. This is largely be­cause the car has been widened by nearly 2 inches over the front wheels and now has large 20-inch front wheels and 21-inch rear wheels, in or­der to give it a broader sense of control and con­tact over the road. Those wheel sizes are the same as the cur­rent Porsche GT3 and 918 Spy­der. There are also now door han­dles that lie flush with the side of the car un­til you need them, at which point they ex­tend out; plus a mov­able rear spoiler and a seam­less bar of brake lights that runs across the back. Most of the pan­els on the new 992 body are alu­minum rather than steel, in­clud­ing the rooftop, the doors, and the front hood—low­er­ing the over­all weight.

On the in­side of the car, while still evoca­tive of the five-di­alled re­cessed dash­board of the 1970s, the 992 now has two dig­i­tal screens set on ei­ther side of the still-cen­tral ana­logue tachymeter. It has a new cen­tre control screen that is larger than the pre­vi­ous 911 (10.9 inches, up from 7) and a stream­lined dash­board and knob con­fig­u­ra­tion that makes it seem slightly more mod­ern than the pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion.

Top speed for the Car­rera S is 191mph, and it’s 190mph for the 4S. Will you be able to tell the dif­fer­ence in speed be­tween the older and newer ver­sions? Given the placebo ef­fect, most def­i­nitely.

The 2020 911 Car­rera S starts at $113,200. The 2020 911 Car­rera 4S starts at $120,600. They’re on sale now, with de­liv­er­ies by next sum­mer. BLOOMBERG

Porsche 911 Car­rera S mod­els on dis­play at the Au­to­mo­bil­ity LA fair.

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