Meet the new Porsche 911, Porsche will say in two years, same as the old Porsche 911. Same as the 911 before that, which was same as the old 911 before that and, well, you get the picture.
If you’re looking for the kind of revolutionary design changeover seen when Ford introduced a new Mustang in 2005 or Dodge unveiled a new Ram for 1994 or Hyundai debuted the 2011 Sonata, you’re looking at the wrong automaker.
This is the Porsche 911 we’re talking about, the car that causes other automakers to believe they, too, can merely tinker with existing models to please loyalists and protect their resale values. (We’re looking at you, Chevrolet Camaro.) This is the Porsche 911, a car that still carries its engine where Camrys carry groceries. This is the Porsche 911, a vibrant $90,450–201,450 ode to success that sells more often than budget-minded Toyota sports cars and Buick convertibles.
There’s absolutely no reason to change it. As a result, the Porsche 911 that will drop in 2019, CAR Magazine has revealed, will scarcely be distinguishable from the outgoing 911.
From a purely U.S. perspective — the 911 produces more than one-quarter of its global volume in America — the slowly evolving 911 design clearly hits the mark, with Porsche reporting relatively level sales from one year to the next in a segment of the market known for severe fluctuations.
In the lead up to the 2017 model year mid-cycle refresh, U.S. 911 sales fell to a four-year low of 8,900 units in 2016. But even that drop represented only a 15-percent drop from 2013, when sales had risen to the highest point since before the recession.
Mercedes-Benz SL-Class sales plunged 47 percent during the same period; the Nissan GT-R tumbled 44 percent. Fresher than the others, Audi R8 sales in 2016 were nevertheless down 36 percent from that car’s peak. BMW i8 volume slid 30 percent, year-over-year, in 2016.
Not only have those cars suffered greater fluctuations, they don’t sell nearly as often as the 911, either. Combined, the Mercedes-Benz SL, BMW i8, Audi R8, and Nissan GT-R were outsold by the 911 by 2,151 units in calendar year 2016. For every 911 sold in the U.S. last year, the Maserati GranTurismo, Mercedes-AMG GT, Bentley Continental GT, Dodge Viper, Cadillac ELR, and Acura NSX produced three-quarters of a sale.
By the standards of other high-priced sports cars and GTs, the Porsche 911 is prodigiously popular. It is without equal. Peerless. So-called 911 fighters may be 911 fighters on paper, in buff books, and at the race track, but they’re not even eligible to fight in the same ring when it comes to the actual, real-world marketplace.
(We’re excluding the far more popular Chevrolet Corvette, which is roughly 40 percent less costly than the 911 but sells more than three times as often in America.)
The 911 that performs so well in the marketplace essentially looks the same as it always has. Sure, it’s bigger than it used to be. The current model doesn’t have the over egg headlamps from 1999. The body gracefully bulges over the rear wheels, rather than ostentatiously emerging from the body, aft the rear doors, with greater girth in the 1980s. But while wider and longer, the 911 has maintained its silhouette; its roofline has remained artfully intact.
Every few years, Porsche designers are charged with updating details, but the enlarge button on the office Xerox machine remains their greatest tool.
And why not. The formula always works. Markedly more comfortable, quieter, powerful, and efficient now than ever before, the Porsche 911 is still unmistakably a 911 on the outside — just what 911 buyers want — and undeniably a modern luxury car on the inside.
Porsche is able to charge jaw-dropping sums of money for a car that, in upcoming generation 992 form, will donate much of its architecture to the more affordable 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman. 911 profit margins, already high by industry standards, will be greatly enhanced by spreading the development costs across multiple model lines, and perhaps into other Volkswagen Group brands.
The eighth-generation Porsche 911 is likely wider while featuring more rear wing, thinner taillamps, and an available hybrid powertrain.
You’ll know it’s a 911 when you see it. Whether you know it’s the das neue 911 depends upon the amount of Porsche-branded attire in your closet.