Friday, 25 November 2011

The New, New 911

Here's Evo's Chris Harris spilling the beans on the new Porsche 911.

Its the first real 'new' 911 since 1997. So it had better be good, as we've got to live with the basic car for the next decade or more.

Luckily, first signs are good, even though there are the usual internet complaints about dumbing down/making it softer/being too conservative. Really, who'd be Porsche's chief designer?

My worry (electric steering system aside) is that while the new mostly-aluminium body is 40kg or so lighter that the 997, a good chunk more could have been saved by using the old 6 speed transmission. That was quoted as being 25kgs lighter than the PDK 'box, and its difficult to see the same saving now the manual gearbox uses the PDK's castings. Is a 7th ratio really needed when almost all of the world's roads are limited to 70-80mph?

Its also been interesting to read the comments about pricing. There is an oftly expressed view that a good £10k worth of options are 'essential' for re-sale, and that the only version worth bothering with is the £81,500, 3.8litre 'S'. So you very quickly end up with the grand total on the website's configurator heading towards £100,000.

I beg to differ.

A ‘vanilla’ 3.4 has 350bhp and does 180mph. It comes with leather, climate, sat nav, Bi-Xenons, start/stop, 7 speed ‘box, 19”s, 235watts of stereo (with 9 speakers and aux input), alcantara roof lining, and electric windows. That's pretty much what I have on my 5 year old Golf, and the previous owner ticked every box on the form when he ordered that one. The baby 911 doesn't get taxed at the highest rates for VED, and you now get 36 months worth of Porsche warranty.

I can see how its easy to get seduced by the options list; I might add £1100 of PASM, £400 of rear Park Assist and a £150 Sports steering wheel. But I wouldn’t be that bothered.

However a look at options prices quickly reveals why Porsche is still most profitable car maker on the planet - and my views on the subject haven't changed since I sat down and specified my Cayman back in 2006.

For example, to paint the bloody thing in a metallic colour is £800. Total cost to Porsche ~€50.

To take away the complex, expensive stainless steel exhaust system and replace it with a complex, expensive stainless steel exhaust system that’s a bit louder and has a valve, switch, bit of wiring and software tweaks costs you £1800. Cost to Porsche? Must be €75 tops. Black wheels are £950, electric sports seats are £3,800, a window in the roof is £1200, some bits of useless carbon trim £1100, and they want £3k for their top of the line stereo.

So while loading the car with complex (and expensive) options might give you bragging rights on the forum I really think the pauper's version will be enough for the UK's roads.

In fact on the smaller 18" wheels it might even be the sweetest driving of all the 991 variants .


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