Esquire (UK)

Top Banana

Porsche updates its 911, but not too much

- By Will Hersey Photograph­s by Lukas Wassmann

“Evolution not revolution” is a phrase so well-used in the business of car design that it now triggers automatic eye-roll. There is one model, though, for which it still feels appropriat­e.

“In its overall concept, the 911 has always stayed true to its roots,” says Michael Mauer, chief designer at Porsche. “All the ingredient­s that have made it unique and successful are still there: the purity of its lines, the functional­ism, the proportion­s and its key design features.”

Those elements include the elliptical headlights, that relatively upright profile and the teardrop-shaped “glass box”. For this car — code-named 992 — a longer, more angular bonnet, a broader, re-styled rear end and an interior which combines the latest tech with almost Seventies analogue styling are among the biggest changes. The overall effect is subtle-bordering-onimpercep­tible but the design team seems to have an uncanny knack of knowing what to tweak and what to leave well alone.

To evolve a design so that it remains faithful to a car from 1963, yet with each update still feels fresh alongside contempora­ry rivals (many of which enjoy the luxury of a clean sheet of paper) deserves more praise than it might receive. It requires careful guardiansh­ip, which Mauer describes as both “a challenge and an honour at the same time”.

“What we continuous­ly focus on is to keep it not just up to date but to really push it forward,” adds Mauer. And that means addressing each generation­al shift with a clear brief of its own.

“I wanted a muscular and very compact appearance — one that hides the fact that, dimensiona­lly, the 992 has grown a bit compared to the 991 [the 2012 model]. Secondly,” he says, “we focused on unmistakab­le styling cues such as the rear light bow in order to clearly set it apart from its predecesso­rs.”

Objective successful­ly achieved. Once again.

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