For Achleiter, it appeared an emotional moment. The quietly spoken German engineer has long presided over the development of the 911, and in more recent years the Boxster and Cayman, too. He has often been described as the keeper of Porsche’s holy grail. But although he’s looking fitter than ever, the 992 is rumoured to be his final project before he retires. Talking to him before we set off, I sensed a characteristic touch of pride but also a certain tinge of reflection in his comments on the new car.
“We know where we’re from and where we want to go. The decisive factor for me is that the 911 generates a driving feeling that no other car can impart,” he said. “The new model will be the best 911 of all time.”
The thing that really strikes you when you see the new 911 up close for the first time is just how close to its predecessor it is in terms of design. The key element, the lightly curved roofline, has been preserved to give the new model clear visual ties with every 911 down through the years. Sure, it has grown and, by all accounts, is more sophisticated than ever, but the basic look has once again been retained.
“Anything but contrived,” said Achleitner of the new look. “Even where the public might be expecting a bigger wow factor, in the long run, a certain aesthetic reserve pays dividends.”
Porsche is keeping many of the technical details under wraps until the car’s planned unveiling at the Los Angeles motor show next month. That’s frustrating, but perhaps logical while the outgoing model, dubbed 991.2, is still on sale, I guess.
Even so, after a day out in the new 911, there’s a fair bit to tell. Like its larger dimensions, for starters.
Pedestrian impact protection regulations have forced Porsche to slightly lengthen the front overhang. This has led to a small increase in overall length and a mild alteration in its (still generously rear-biased) weight distribution. There are changes to the body, too. You’ll search in vain for a narrowbody model within the 911 range, though, as the new rear three-quarter panels are now exclusively wide-body items with even more pronounced rear haunches.
Elsewhere, the stylistic changes are predictably evolutionary. There are updates to the bumpers, headlights, door handles, mirror housings and tail-lights, which are noticeably thinner than before and connected by a full-width light band. The changes inside are even more significant, with the adoption of a new dashboard and centre console, as well as a further refined version of the 918-Spyder-style steering wheel that already graces today’s 911.