Lunatics at Porsche to Actually Build the 911 Dakar
If you’ve felt something is missing from your new Porsche 911 – say, an ability to blast dunes or conquer snow and ice – then a variant scheduled for the L.A. Auto Show should be right up your alley.
Porsche Becoming Volume Brand
While it may not be on the cusp of supplanting Toyota in terms of sales, the Porsche brand has enjoyed relatively consistent growth since 2009. Despite 2020 representing a poor sales year for just about everyone who wasn’t producing vaccines, the German manufacturer weathered the storm better than most and came back to break a few records the following year.
By the end of 2021, Porsche had sold nearly 302,000 vehicles globally. It also managed to break its previous sales records in China and the United States. Considering that global production volumes have remained suppressed by supply chain problems, it was an impressive accomplishment. However, Detlev von Platen, Executive Board Member Sales & Marketing at Porsche AG, believes the automaker can still outdo itself in 2022.
Volkswagen Group: Audi Employs Ken Block, Porsche Making 718 Electric
Despite being the target of a German lawsuit accusing the manufacturer of not being green enough, Volkswagen Group is probably the legacy automaker touting the merits of electrification with the most enthusiasm. While undoubtedly influenced by the diesel emissions catastrophe that cheesed off every regulator in the Western world, its brand has actively been delivering EVs and praising alternative energy automobiles whenever possible.
There was more of that this week. Porsche has reportedly decided to make the 718 to be an all-electric model by 2025 and Audi recently announced that it’s employing rally icon and Hoonigan founder Ken Block (who broke with the Ford Motor Co. earlier this year) to develop EVs.
Piloting Stuttgart's Latest And Greatest At The Porsche Experience Center
While Audi, Mercedes-AMG, and other luxury automakers hold performance driving programs at various race tracks across the U.S. and abroad, years ago Porsche decided to take a different tack. Now operating in seven different locations around the world, its Porsche Experience Centers are basically automotive playgrounds that showcase the brand’s performance heritage and contemporary racing efforts while also providing a facility for customers to build out custom specifications in the Personal Design Studio. The most interesting feature of the PECs, though, is the Driver Development Tracks. These purpose-built proving grounds allow drivers to put the capabilities of Porsche’s various vehicles to the test – whether that’s the at-limit handling of a Cayman or the off-road prowess of a Cayenne.
2021 Porsche 911 Adds Options, Expands Stick Shift Availability
A laundry list of options from the Porsche 911 Turbo S have trickled down to the rest of the 992 Series, plus a few new inclusions aimed at making daily commutes more livable.
The biggest get has to be the expanded availability of the seven-speed manual, but that’s thus far reserved for European customers who still prefer be-clutched vehicles in greater numbers than we do. Still, don’t panic just yet. Porsche hinted in the past that the U.S.-spec Carrera S and 4S models would also be made available with manual options later on.
If it works out like it’s supposed to in Europe, optioning your prospective 911 with the Sport Chrono package opens it up to the no-cost option of choosing either the PDK dual-clutch or seven-speed stick. You’ll also get the associated track goodies, plus a new tire temperature display and some updated ambient lighting options.
Ace of Base: 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera
Take a guess as to how many variants of the 911 there are currently on sale today. We’ll give you a minute.
Nope, more than that. Yep — more than that, too. Including versions of the brand new model, no fewer than thirty models of 911 present themselves to customers who fire up the pricing tool. Earlier this week, Porsche rolled out the least-expensive trim of the new 911 so far. Simply called the Carrera, it starts at just a few stacks under a hundred grand.
QOTD: Any Bad Takes, Man?
Gearheads love to argue about stuff: Ford vs Chevy, Evo vs WRX, Senna vs Prost. There’s only one answer to that last one, by the way.
Inevitably, someone tells us we have an incredibly bad take on something, and we’re forced to defend our unpopular opinion. Click through and let us know yours in the comments. I’ll go first — and it involves the Porsche 911.
Elektrisch Slide: Porsche 911 Hybrid An Inevitability
Any measure of change to the 911 reliably sends Porsche purists into a tailspin worthy of the car’s legendary snap-oversteer thirty years ago. It has been suggested that the 911 was the leading cause of death of doctors, lawyers, and – erm – entrepreneurs in the ‘70s and ‘80s than anything else, including cocaine.
Those diabolically catastrophic handling traits have long been exorcised, of course, along with air cooling and church pew seating. With each change, anoraks have wailed into their Porsche Design espresso cups.
What will be said about a hybrid 911? Well, according to one source, they’ll at least be able to say it’s the most powerful 911 ever made.
QOTD: Your L.A. Winner?
The Los Angeles Auto Show — a title your author will always use in reference to the annual soiree, despite the show’s repeated attempts to rebrand it as “AutoMobility LA” — is over for another year. Shrimp consumed, after parties attended, the works of it.
As befits California, there were no shortage of stunners. On the other hand, as befitting its near-Thanksgiving time slot, there were also a few turkeys.
What was your winner? Betcha can’t guess mine.
Porsche's Internal Conflict Over Electrifying the 911
Porsche unveiled the 992 Series of the 911 at the LA Auto Show this past week, providing a model that ought to keep the brand’s most-ardent with little to complain about. The 2020 model year hasn’t reinvented the 911 so much as it has refined it — adding power to the pre-existing 3.0-liter flat six via a new intercooler, turbochargers, and other upgraded components, while also injecting premium features like pop-out door handles and a larger center touchscreen.
Porsche even left room for an electric motor in PDK-equipped variants but a hybrid model 911 was nowhere to be seen in Los Angeles. That’s because the manufacturer doesn’t seem sold on the idea of such a vehicle — a little odd considering they developed the 922 Series specifically to allow for hybrid implementation. Then again, sometimes it pays to hedge your bets.
Somebody Call 911, Party on the Dance Floor
Allow me that one, as I’ve always wanted to use it in a headline. Porsche has taken the wraps off its new 911, showing the eight-generation model to a fawning crowd in Los Angeles on the eve of this week’s auto show.
The exterior, well, that’s an unmistakably Porsche 911 profile at which to gaze. Hanging out behind the rear axle of the S and 4S models is a flat-six now making 443 horsepower.
Next Porsche 911 GT3 Could Spin to 9,500 RPM
If you want a good example of evolution, you don’t need to venture all the way to the Galapagos Islands. Simply look at the lineage of the Porsche 911 for confirmation of how a species evolves and adapts over time.
Not long ago, the mighty 911 Turbo was the only example of the breed with a snail attached to its rear-mounted engine. Now, with turbos pervading nearly the entire line, it seemed as if naturally aspirated 911s would disappear like the dodo bird. However, we’re now hearing rumours the GT3 may retain its non-turbo status … with a flat-six that screams its way to 9,500 rpm.
Singer Teams With Williams, Cranks Another Porsche to Eleven
Singer Vehicle Design, builder of meticulously re-imagined Porsches, has partnered with the advanced engineering arm of UK’s Williams F1 team. Together, they’ve created an incredible commission for a well-heeled classic Porsche enthusiast. The sales commission was probably pretty good, too.
With a focus on keeping the weight down, this “Dynamics and Lightweighting Study” has resulted in the beautiful machine you see here, cranking out 500 horsepower and weighing less than 2,200lbs.
QOTD: Who Needs a Little Goodwill?
Long-time readers of TTAC know I am always willing to criticize Porsche in general, and PCNA in particular, for their oft-spectacular indifference towards their own customer base. For much of the previous decade, the company vacillated between denying fundamental problems with their M96/M97 engines and blaming those problems on the customers. When a reckoning finally came, it involved the United States legal system. I stopped buying Porsches more than a decade ago and have rarely felt tempted by the brand since.
With that said, it’s obvious the firm learned from its previous misadventures in consumer relations. The latest generation of flat-six engine, though not perfect, appears far less failure-prone than its predecessor. I’m hearing good things about the quality of recent-build Macans and Cayennes. Finally, there is this: Porsche has just announced a warranty extension to 120,000-miles on their 991.1 GT3 models. This program will go a long way towards holding up the resale value of these occasionally fragile automobiles.
Naturally, Porsche’s absolute mastery of PR has ensured that this warranty extension received nothing but positive press. Compare that to the infamous Honda “glass transmission” goodwill campaign that often saw cars with 90,000-miles on the odometer receive free transmissions nearly a decade after leaving the assembly line. It was often treated by autowriters as an example of Honda’s post-millennium fallibility, rather than as an example of monstrously expensive devotion to customer satisfaction.
We should commend both companies for their sensible and ethical approach to known defects in their automobiles. Which leads to the question: What other candidates are there out there for a program like this?
Ask Jack: Not That Kind of SS
Last week, we discussed the fact that the gap between automotive perception and automotive reality can lead to some remarkable cognitive dissonance on the part of “car people.” That’s why the breadvan Civic Si was sold as a budget-priced Bimmer-beater and the breadvan Scion xB was sold as a Portland-friendly mobile Millennial drum circle. They knew very few Civic “intenders” would look at a Scion and vice versa.
This sort of stuff runs rampant in the business and, if you want any further confirmation of it, just take a look at the staggeringly different demographic profiles for the mechanically similar Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon Denali, and Chevrolet Tahoe Premier.
But wait, there’s more. Thanks to a wide variety of advances in materials, design methods, and computing power, the capability envelope of modern vehicles is expanding in all directions. My 2017 Silverado 6.2-liter just got an average of 22.1 mpg on a 680-mile drive from Ohio to South Carolina; my 2006 Phaeton got 17 mpg flat on the same trip despite being a thousand pounds lighter, 100 horsepower weaker, and considerably more aero-friendly. Next week, you’re going to hear a lot about how the Audi TT-RS is faster than (insert name of supercar here) from 0-60. Much of that will be regurgitated pablum from a staggeringly expensive press trip that includes a private helicopter ride from Manhattan to Lime Rock, and some of it is due to advances in tire tech, but there’s some real truth to the fact that the mighty Ferrari Enzo can be humbled in a short sprint by a car that is basically a VW Jetta in a party dress.
As cars become more capable, they are also going to engage in hitherto-unseen marketplace conflicts. Should you buy a 7 Series Bimmer or a Denali XL? A Corvette or a Macan Turbo S? Which brings us to today’s unusual matchup… but before we click that jump, here’s a reminder to send your most burning questions to email@example.com.