Cars

Porsche’s 8 goals for the 2020 911

Automakers often use focus groups made up of current owners to help them develop the next model of any given vehicle. They want to know what works and what doesn’t, so they “clinic it.”
Porsche didn’t bother with that for the 992-generation 911.

Motor Authority spoke with August Achleitner, vice president of the 911 and 718 product lines, about what Porsche’s goals were for the 2020 911. “Mr. 911,” as he is known, told us that the company already knew from feedback from owners what it wanted to work on, what the weak points were, and what changes needed to be made due to legal requirements around the world.

However, Achleitner was clear on Porsche’s main goal.

“When we launch a new 911, it’s a very simple goal. A new 911 has to be better than the old one,” he said.

Achleitner got more specific and shared the eight things Porsche wanted to improve on the 2020 911:

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, Valencia, Spain, January 2019

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, Valencia, Spain, January 2019

1) Improve dynamics.

“How can we improve the vehicle dynamics again after the big step with the 991 in comparison to the 997 before?,” Achleitner asked rhetorically. One answer was making the car wider. Both the S and 4S models are now wide-body cars, which means the S model gained 1.5 inches of rear track. Up front, both models are wider by 1.8 inches, too. “With a wider track in front and rear, the vehicle dynamics came to a new level,” Achleitner said. The wider track improves traction and lets the rear axle build up more stability. The adjustable adaptive dampers were also updated with new hardware and software. In their firm setting they are now firmer than in the 991-generation car. Porsche says that improves roll stability, steering response, and cornering grip. In my first drive review of the 2020 Porsche 911, I was amazed that Porsche managed to make a brilliant car handle even better. But Porsche did something else to improve the dynamics, and that’s the next point.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera

2) Enlarge the diameter of the rear wheels.

Calculations and simulations showed that enlarging the diameter of the rear wheels would improve dynamics even though it would also add weight. The 2020 Porsche 911 S and 4S now ride on 21-inch wheels at the rear and 20s up front, though the tire sizes haven’t changed at 305/30 rear and 245/35 up front. While this influenced all of the surrounding areas of the suspension and the packaging of the car, Porsche felt it was worth the effort because it would make the handling more neutral and controllable. The company had experience with the practice as the 918 Spider and GT2 and GT3 cars already use staggered wheel sizes, and there are no better handling Porsches than those. Handling becomes more neutral because the bigger rear wheels provide greater rear end stability and grip without having to go with a wider tire.

 

2020 Porsche 911

2020 Porsche 911

3) Improve comfort.

Porsche didn’t want to go all out here to create a two-door Panamera, Achleitner said, but the company achieved this goal by giving those adaptive adjustable dampers a wider spread of damping force. Not only can they be firmer as noted above, but they are softer as well. They react much quicker than before—up to 100 times per second—and they react in all stages of damper travel to adapt to road conditions. It’s the first major change to the Porsche Active Suspension Management dampers since they were launched in 2004. According to Porsche, these changes make absorbing quick, short bumps like cobblestone roads much more effective. In my drive, I found the 911 to be comfortable for a sports car, even more so than in the past, but I’ll need more time behind the wheel, especially on bad roads to see just how effective the changes are.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera

4) Improve interior noise.

This didn’t mean reducing total sound in the cabin so much as reducing noise from the wide rear tires, which Achleitner said is just loudness. After all, Porsche owners want to hear the distinct, mid-tonal thrum of their flat-6 engines. They don’t, however, want to hear water and pebbles splash around in their wheel wells or the white noise of tires on rough pavement.

To combat noise, Porsche started with a stiffer structure where the rear suspension parts mount to the body, used more-efficient sound insulation in the rear wheel well areas and behind the rear seats, and chose top strut mounts that provide better insulation. Even the larger rear wheels contribute to less tire noise because they can run at a lower air pressure.

2020 Porsche 911

2020 Porsche 911

 

5) Fulfill emissions requirements.

Porsche pursued three main strategies to reduce emissions. The engine now uses asymmetrical intake camshafts that allow adjacent valves of a cylinder to open with a different degree of lift (2 and 4.5 millimeters versus a consist 3.6 millimeters in the 991) under partial load. This, combined with other efforts to optimize fuel management and combustion reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. A new particulate filter in the exhaust system also reduces emissions, though it is not included in U.S. cars. An extra gear for the new 8-speed automatic transmission is another fuel- and emissions-savings measure. Finally, Porsche future-proofed the car this time around by developing it with a hybrid in mind—likely a plug-in hybrid—in case regulations change anywhere in the world that require either stricter emissions or zero-emissions zones.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, Valencia, Spain, January 2019

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, Valencia, Spain, January 2019

6) State-of-the-art connectivity.

The 911’s center touchscreen grows from 7.0 to 10.9 inches for the 2020 911 and its hardware and software provide faster processing of inputs and data. As it has since 2017, the system offers Apple CarPlay compatibility and can be controlled with tablet-style stretch, pinch, and swipe gestures. Internet radio, a wi-fi hot-spot, and real-time traffic information for the navigation system were previously available, but a new onboard modem now provides these services, as well as access to smart home functions and Amazon Music.

2020 Porsche 911 active lane control

2020 Porsche 911 active lane control

2020 Porsche 911 rear turn assist

2020 Porsche 911 rear turn assist

2020 Porsche 911 night vision

2020 Porsche 911 night vision

7) Improve the assistance systems

“Nobody buys the 911 because of the assistance systems,” Achleitner said. However, he noted that the average buyer has three cars in the garage, so they may wonder why the 911 lacked some systems that come on their other cars. With that in mind, Porsche decided to add safety systems and make most of them optional. Forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking is not optional. It’s available for the first time, and it’s standard. We think that’s a good thing. A new Wet mode is also standard. It adjusts various vehicle systems, most notably the stability control, to make the 911 safer to drive in the rain or in snowy or icy conditions.

Blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability carry over as options, but the blind-spot monitors add a new Turn Assist Rear feature that monitors the rear of the car when turning at speeds under about 9 mph to warn if, for example, bicyclists may be approaching. Active lane control with traffic sign recognition, and surround-view and night vision camera systems are optional this year.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera

8) Emphasize muscular styling.

With its rear-engine layout, the 911 has always had a muscular tail, but changes for the 992-generation made it even bolder. Both the S and 4S models are now wide-body cars with wide tires on big wheels. That gives the car natural rear haunches that make it look like a predator ready to pounce. Achleitner pointed out, however, that the wider front track helps, too. We agree. It plays off well with the rear to make the car look wide and sculpted with a hint of the sexy Coke-bottle shape that designers desire. Up front, Porsche added lines to the center of the hood that, in the front view, will be the easiest way to tell the 992 generation from the 991. They are among the very few character lines on a very clean design.

Via MotorAuthority

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