There are few tougher jobs in the automotive world than preparing a new 911.
Porsche has launched the eighth-generation of its iconic 911 in Los Angeles after more than four years of development, a process comprising some serious challenges according to the man dubbed 'Mr 911'.
“We made big changes inside, outside and under the skin, but by far the most challenging issue was how to deal with various emissions requirements around the world – half the world required gasoline particulate filters while half didn’t," Achleitner explained, speaking at the Los Angeles motor show.
“When we started developing this car a little more than four years ago all these regulations that are in place now weren’t known at that time. This situation is not only a problem for Porsche, but for all carmakers today.
"In fact, we only received the final data on these emissions requirements early in 2017, which didn’t leave us a lot of time to come up with the best solutions," he went on.
According to 'Mr 911', the company only got its pre-production models early in 2018, which is "ideally when you would like to have everything basically sorted on the car".
"So it didn’t leave a lot of time, though, neither did it cause us to push things back because those solutions we had designed turned out to be successful.”
While some companies hold focus groups with customers to understand what they want changed in a next-generation model, Porsche likes to gauge the feedback from comments on car reviews as a window into reactions to a car.
Interestingly, Achleitner doesn’t believe the new 992-generation 911 has any external benchmarks, except the previous model.
“Most people who buy a new 911 have had one before, so it’s a very simple proposition for us at Porsche – the new one has to be better than the old one, it’s that simple," he said.
And, while its clearly an evolution (like every other new 911 before it) the 992 incorporates myriad technical and mechanical changes over the 991, not least of which is the fact Porsche has extracted more power from a flat-six engine with the same 3.0-litre displacement as before.
Not only do the 992 Carrera S and Carrera 4S produce 331kW – up 22kW on the previous model – acceleration is even more impressive, with both able to hit 100km/h in less than four seconds: 3.7 seconds for the rear-drive Carrera S, 3.6 seconds for the 4S.
It’s even quicker if you option the Sport Chrono package, which slashes a further 0.2 secs off the time. Want more details? Worry not, Mr 911 is here to provide them.
“We use slightly larger turbochargers that are bigger on the compressor side as well as the turbines, and we can combine these with a different layout for the intercoolers for better efficiency, in that the intake air temperature is cooler, providing more oxygen for better engine response and therefore even less lag," he explained.
“We’ve also used new piezo fuel injectors which, although are more expensive than mechanical direct injectors, allow for more precise control of fuel mixture and an increase in compression ratio from 10.0:1 to 10.5:1 without any change to boost pressure.
"In fact, [boost is] the same as today’s 991.2 GTS model."
Porsche has dumped the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (PDK) in favour of an eight-speed version dubbed PDK 2 this time around, for better performance throughout the rev range, according to Achleitner.
“There are two reasons for this change. The seven-speed PDK of today, you know the seventh gear ratio is an overdrive gear which leaves a large gap in revs when you switch from sixth to seventh gear and we wanted to improve on that," he said.
“Now, with the eight-speed unit there’s a completely equal step up of revs from five to six to seven and eight. So, with the this new gearbox, eighth gear is equal to seventh in the old 'box and shorter gear ratios from one to eight, obviously," he went on.
“Another reason for the switch is the new gearbox is electro-hydraulic rather than mechanically operated, thereby allowing for an inclusion of an automatic parking system which will allow you to remotely park your car via an app on your phone in, say, a tight garage space."
More importantly, though, PDK 2 is based on the same unit used in the Panamera. It's a four-shaft unit (rather than two in the outgoing one) and shorter than the current design, leaving space for an electric motor for use with a hybrid version of the 911.
“Let me just say that a 911 hybrid model is at least four years away, but the 992 is prepared to accept such a solution once we develop it.
“We could build a hybrid version now, but it would have to be so convincing that people would really want to buy it over even a petrol version, but right now we are not satisfied," Achleitner mused.
“Don’t get me wrong. We are in a very good position as far as knowledge and experience goes to develop a strong hybrid system for the 911 using knowledge gained from our successful 919 racing experience, but right now we are focusing all our efforts with the battery-driven Taycan, our first full EV that will be launched in 2019," he continued.
There's been big changes inside the new 911, too. It’s basically a complete redesign from the driver's seat. Although the trademark five-dial instrument cluster remains, only the centrally-mounted tachometer is analogue, those flanking it being LCD screens.
Specifically, there’s a separate dial that can show either a speedometer or the various active safety systems on the 992 (some of those are optional) like lane-change assist or lane-departure warning.
“The 992 is also available with a night vision system dubbed Night Vision Assist which shows up on the display to the right-hand side of the rev counter. The system also works even when the display is switched off by warning the driver if it detects an animal at the side of
the road," Achleitner concluded.