By on June 26, 2012

Does the new 991 need more power? After all, in addition to the inevitable (and mandatory) color-mag fellatio you’d expect, it’s already impressed Brendan McAleer at a Porsche-operated press event and squeaked out a narrow victory over a Mustang GT in an impromptu challenge at Summit Point’s Shenandoah course.

In the days when Porsche was a manufacturer of sports cars, rather than a purveyor of two-ton plasti-metallic pig-mobiles doing the occasional sporting car for purposes of brand enhancement, its policy of continuous improvement meant that each year’s 911 was better than the last. Nowadays, however, the company sets out its marketing objectives and molds the product to suit.

Witness: the new 991 Powerkit.

The Powerkit, which has yet to receive the usual (and strangely evocative) X50 or X51 designation, bumps the 911 Carrera S from 400 to 430 horsepower courtesy of different cylinder heads and cams, a redesigned intake, some additional cooling, and an ECU tune, plus Sport Chrono. There’s probably under a thousand dollars’ worth of genuine cost involved in the Powerkit. Anybody who thinks the Powerkit will cost the customer a thousand bucks, or even three times that, probably just got done sucking twelve lungfuls’ worth of smoke out of a five-foot-tall homemade bong which was nicknamed “I, Claudius” by that one guy in the third-floor loft who is theoretically a member of the fraternity but nobody remembers seeing him pledge.

Once upon a time, Porsche would have put the Powerkit on all 2013 Carrera S cars and been done with it. No longer. Now it’s another monstrously profitable rung in the prestige ladder. Buyers looking to spend $150,000 on a normally-aspirated 911 without resorting to the time-honored expedient of doing seatbelts dyed to sample will no doubt welcome the extra opportunity to impress the sheik next door.

Porsche also announced an Aerokit, which will cost $5,990 or thereabouts plus about four grand for even more wings. It’s shown above. Supposedly, the rear decklid pays tribute to the ’73 Carrera RS, and it does, the same way that a picture of Justin Bieber holding a Strat could be said to be a tribute to Jimi Hendrix.

The 400-horsepower 991 is already cutting high eleven-second quarter-mile times in private hands, and this Powerkit certainly won’t hurt. The question is: do you want to be the guy stupid enough to pay near-Turbo money for a loaded 991 Carrera S Powerkit when the 991 Turbo is almost here?

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43 Comments on “Four Hundred And Thirty The Hard Way: Porsche Introduces The 991 Powerkit...”


  • avatar
    gmrn

    “Supposedly, the rear decklid pays tribute to the ’73 Carrera RS, and it does, the same way that a picture of Justin Bieber holding a Strat could be said to be a tribute to Jimi Hendrix.”

    That is some damn fine perverse imagery. I’m thinking that after reading this, somewhere, a stylist in a kit design studio is on suicide watch.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    “You’re a lot of woman, you know that? You want to make $14 the hard way?”

    These powerkits always make me laugh, good god do you really want to spend enough money to have bought a spare car for when your exotic is in the shop, just to get a few more hp?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Was the Porsche salesman who told me that the 7-speed manual hypothetically available in the 991 is really an electronically shifted dual clutch sequential transmission with a simulated gearshift lever and clutch pedal that are merely connected to position sensors correct?

    • 0 avatar
      needsdecaf

      No.

      It’s based on the 7 speed PDK, modified with different gears, etc. The 7 speed PDK was designed to be converted to a MT with a minimal of fuss. But no, it’s not a PDK with a fake gear lever. It’s actually actuated by the pedal and stick.

      • 0 avatar
        faygo

        this aligns with what the ZF guys who sat across the table from me in a meeting noted about it. they said the shift linkage is rather complicated. or maybe it was “tortured”.

        unlike the E60 M5 generation single-clutch SMG gearbox which was impossible to convert to manual operation (the gears were in non-sequential locations) this seems like it was thought out that way from the start.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      There needs to be a Youtube video called “Sh*t Car Salesmen Say…”

      Totally wrong. The 7-speed manual is a conventional manual gearbox with 7 speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The funny thing was he convinced me not to come back for a test drive when he had one in stock by telling me about the exciting new technology of a fake gearshift.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    So for $150,000 you get almost as much horsepower as a Mustang GT, and will almost beat that GT on a track?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      With equal drivers, on most courses, a 911S should flat smoke a Mustang GT. There’s about a 500-pound weight advantage for the German car.

      Whether it’s any more fun to drive is another question.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Well it SHOULD, shouldn’t it? Costing five times as much and all? How about against a Boss 302? Something that only costs 1/4 as much?

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Comparing a 911 to a Boss dollar-for-dollar is like comparing the timekeeping accuracy of a Rolex and a Timex.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Hah.

        Takes a licking but keeps on ticking.

      • 0 avatar
        jetcal1

        Have to find a better metaphor. Quartz watches tend to be about 4X more accurate. Even the Swiss sanctioning body has acknowledged that by using a different standard for quartz chrongraphs.
        I prefer to think of it as diminishing returns and scale of economy. A lighter Mustang with the same quality interior built to same quantities would probably be almost as expensive. And the tweaks to gain the last 10 % of performance always add the greatest amount of cost.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @jetcal1 – I doubt Mustang GTs with Porsche refinement, quality and fine tuning would need to be triple the price. If it were not for V6 Mustangs paying the bills, V8 Mustangs would need to sell for perhaps, twice as much to be profitable.

        Now if Porsche sold a $25k 911 with a Passat drivetrain and spongy suspension for the masses and rental counter… OK, that would kill its brand cache and exclusivity that it’s worked so hard for, but a current base 911 could, in theory, be priced just a hair more than a Mustang GT, if that were the case.

      • 0 avatar
        faygo

        @DenverMike :
        “I doubt Mustang GTs with Porsche refinement, quality and fine tuning would need to be triple the price. If it were not for V6 Mustangs paying the bills, V8 Mustangs would need to sell for perhaps, twice as much to be profitable.”

        this would be wrong. margins on higher spec vehicles are always higher, so the base variants don’t do anything other than prop up volumes, support CAFE figures and fill rental car fleets. no way would a V8 Mustang have to be priced 2x as much to make equal profits at lower volumes.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @faygo – Simply put, the V6 Mustang can stand on its own and remain affordable because of its high volume. The Mustang GT would not remain affordable if it couldn’t get most of its components off the V6 Mustang line.

        In other words, the Mustang GT would likely cost twice as much if it had its own unique body.

        You’re putting way too high a price on refinement and that’s fine, your money. But you can’t tell me a Porsche built on, say a common Beetle body and an existing Porsche drivetrain, would need to cost anywhere near $90K.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      not a valid comparison. Different market segments.

      Would you compare a zx-14r to your mustang gt even thought it costs only 1/3 ?

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      @DenverMike :

      yes, a Mustang line-up with only a V8 and only V8 volumes would need to be more expensive to the customer to maintain profit margins. it _would_not_ be twice as expensive. trust me on this, I work in finance, at a certain oval-logo’ed company which produces a live axle equipped car.

      I’m not sure where I was placing a price on refinement, nor how that enters into the equation here.

      you are correct – an 911 based on a common platform would indeed be cheaper to produce. however, it is not necessarily going to be sold any cheaper though – see Cayenne pricing and options for examples vs Toureg/Q7. Porsche makes the big bucks because they can price for their name and their dizzying option list.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I haven’t driven either, but I think youd have to be a hell of a Porsche hater to bet on the boat over the beetle. The Porsche is a quarter ton lighter, has way better chassis balance for EVERYTHING, and is just as powerful, w/less rotating and general inertia. In other words, Porsche would have to have completely screwed the pooch for the driving experiences to even come close.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      You mean like putting the engine in the wrong location?

      • 0 avatar
        Thinkin...

        Exactly. I’d like to see someone (TG?) turn the stability control fully off on both cars and then see how the race pans out.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        You guys have to be trolling. A 911 would put a sizable gap between it and any Rustang, outside of maybe a Nascar track.

        These are not the swing axled 911s your dads used to bench race. The 991 has the weight distribution of a mid engined car, and according to Chris Harris, the handling feel of a 997 GT3. The newest Mustang is a great car, but lets be serious here.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @sportyaccordy – A Rustang vs 911 does sound like troll bate if you haven’t been paying attention. OK, Mustang GTs do come with piss poor dampers, perhaps by design, but Boss 302s have been running with or beating base Corvettes and 911s.

        On paper, this isn’t even a contest and perhaps you don’t agree that Willow Springs and Laguna Seca are world class tracks, but the Corkscrew is a perfect place to display LRA prowess.

        If you’re done ROFL’n, check the YouTube dashcam video of a GT3 lapping Laguna Seca in real time. Yes, it kills the Boss 302, as it should, but run its video of the same run concurrently on separate windows. The GT3 pulls away from the Boss 302 everywhere except through the Corkscrew.

        It stands to reason that an LRA Mustang with a Corvette or 911-like chassis would destroy either, pound for pound.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        sportyaccordy,

        Saying a 991 has the weight distribution of a mid engined car is misleading at best. Here is a hint: A car that achieves 50/50 weight distribution by locating 90% of its mass between its front and rear axles will handle differently than one that achieves a 50/50 weight distribution by sticking 500 lbs of lead in its front bumper to offset having a heavy engine hanging out behind its back axle.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Nice Ride, with greedy company taking advantage of poor self worth. Still the used cars now are pretty neat. No money though. More self worth would net more jobs and a better economy now, imo. Irony, just like the wing on the 991 x51.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Easy. I’ll take the Mustang instead, and give the difference to my kid.

  • avatar
    Nate

    “…bumps the 911 Carrera S from 400 to 430 horsepower courtesy of different cylinder heads and cams, a redesigned intake, some additional cooling, and an ECU tune…”

    All that for just 30 extra ponies? Everyone knows a K&N air filter adds 40 HP. 45 if you put the sticker on your window.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    So, for what is probably a $17k kit, you receive…
    -Complete heads
    -Upgraded cams
    -Additional radiator
    -Cheap-looking engine cover
    -Variable intake system
    -Variable exhaust system
    -New clock
    -ECU tuned for above
    -Warranty coverage for the vehicle so equipped(?)

    You get a gain of 30hp? Granted, you are starting with something that is already pretty good, but those gains are pathetic for that level of modification.

    My guess is they wanted to maintain emissions and mpg’s. Once you consider the research that went into this, the red tape that needed to be worked around, labor to install (a lot of work), the hardware (much more than your sub-$1000 estimate), possible warranty claims(?), and a little morsel of profit…the price is almost a reasonable figure.

    Or you could shove some nasty, smokey, uncivilized aftermarket cams in there with a ECU tune for far less. You may enjoy 50+hp at the expense of a harsh drive.

    My preference would be for the latter, but luke-warm OEM hotrodding does serve a purpose. This would work well for a Kardashian to impress people with, or the guy who tracks his car once in a blue moon that craps his pants when his Porsche gets a little warm.

    • 0 avatar
      daveainchina

      Yah for that kind of money and only 30HP I’ll pass. Heck I’d rather just put a bottle on it for about 2k and be done with it for when I want that extra hp.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      @Crabspirits :

      this is not a “kit” you get installed at the dealer, it’s a factory-ordered option package. therefore, none of the content which is involved is any more complicated to install than the existing parts.

      the cost of the package to Porsche is in engineering the parts and the incremental variable cost in the parts. Jack’s estimate is correct, if perhaps a bit low. Porsche didn’t become the most profitable per-unit company car company by accident.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    “In the days when Porsche was a manufacturer of sports cars, rather than a purveyor of two-ton plasti-metallic pig-mobiles doing the occasional sporting car for purposes of brand enhancement, its policy of continuous improvement meant that each year’s 911 was better than the last. Nowadays, however, the company sets out its marketing objectives and molds the product to suit.”

    Too too true, they keep on talking about brand objectives, core values, and best of all premium buying experience.
    Having twice put a deposit on a GT3 I can say that the experience was akin to standing in a manufactured line for some bougus las vegas club, or trying to get reservations at the latest bogus resteraunt.

    I have no objection to manufacturers manufacturing image and experience to move metal, it pays for R&D for real products, and those few real products ultimately underpin the “BRAND”. Hence for all the bogus bloated 911′s coxters cayenes and whatever else we still had the sublime GT3, and even regular 911′s had something to them.

    As porche has the panamera and Caynee and boxter for the poseur set, I dont really understand why they turned the 911 into a GT. 911 sales, and in fact the core “brand” was built on core enthusiusasts and even the wanabees understood this was the real thing, its very compromised alive nature is what made it what it was and by extension porche.

    Now the 911 is a very fast GT, more might buy it intialy, but the star is fading fast, and in 10 years Porche will have lost its core niche(which underpins its image) and will be competing for the same space as everyone else.

    Of course Maser threatens to make a CF GT3 type car, so maybe the spot abandoned by porche will be occupied by someone else, at least from an enthusiast perspective.

    While I am quite sure the new GT3 will be OBJECTIVELY better than the RS4.0 in reality given its enlarged size and mundane steering it is just going to be another really fast grippy GT, because lets face it a ZR1 vette is objectively “faster” than a GT3 and which would you rather have or drive..

    One thing all of this tells us though. Porche is taking the 911 upstream, Where a 911 used to be an 85k car it is now well over 100k. Where a GT3 was a 115-120k car its now going to be over 150k plus. Thing is they could have hit the same upstream market with a 2 door panamera, and saved the 911 for those who underpin porche’s “core brand values”
    Abandoning the 911 for the 928 944 did not do porche any favors in the 70′s. After the fad faded, the hard core 911 saved and sustained the company. they have abandoned their core at their peril.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    This goes part and parcel with the optional sport exhaust. I might be a bit silly, but I’d expect every car from one of the most iconic sports car makers on the planet to be so equipped.

  • avatar

    I am hopeful that the VW tieup will mean that Porsche can go back to being the Porsche that just builds excellent sports cars, rather than feeling forced to recession-proof with SUVs and Panameras and etc. Misplaced hope?

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    It’s summer now, so the older air cooled cars are coming out. Was just admiring the simplicity of the a plain vanilla 993 Carrera down the street. Complex and expensive for it’s time… now so utterly simple, and a whole lot more compact looking than the current gen.

  • avatar
    Tarditi

    ** Ruf **

  • avatar
    jco

    this is the same Jack that wrote this:
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/avoidable-contact-when-it-comes-to-the-options-some-people-have-no-standards/

    right? :) aside from them charging you many thousands of dollars for the privilege of selecting this particular customization.. according to you it’s better that they offer it than not. or you can have a Carrera LX and be done with it..

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Yes, that was me.

      I absolutely adore Porsche’s willingness to make expensive customization available.

      This aint that.

      It is developing two different tune stages that cost about the same to build and creating an artifical ladder. And that is lame.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        How much cost difference do you imagine there is between manufacturing a Mustang 5.0 and a Mustang 3.7? Or a Camaro 3.6 and a Camaro 6.2?

      • 0 avatar
        jco

        yes, it is lame, although I guess I missed where there were two different tune stages. they’re going to do it for money, I know I don’t have to say that.. and yes I’m sure they’re counting on the fact that not every potential buyer is going to know or care that it costs you more than it costs them. look at the the staggering amount of interior bits you can have covered in varying amounts and colors of leather (or not).

        I think once you start offering such a bewildering array of options for every single area of the car, having a pricing difference between 2 different levels of power is just.. logical. two levels means two different choices means two different prices.

        I also think there may be plenty of Porsche owners out there who’d be ok with adding decimals for a highly customized Carrera S, even if it means it starts bumping into pricing for an off-the-rack Silver/Black turbo model. the Powerkit just makes it seem a little less like a sacrifice I suppose.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Porsche marketing is really run by social scientists attempting to find out the limits to which cynical pricing can be taken before their customers balk.

    This is the company, afterall, who prices its Boxster convertible less than its virtually identical hardtop Cayman. AND they offer about two dozen variations on the same car (911) with truly wild variations in the price.

    One would have thought they had reached the limits for their customers, but the experiment continues.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      > Porsche marketing is really run by social scientists attempting to find out the limits to which cynical pricing can be taken before their customers balk.

      Also known affectionately as “Starbucks pricing”, and the term that economists prefer is “price discrimination”….. hee hee hee.


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