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The Mercury Cars Guide : October 24th 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009 Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au ---3 big --- and very, very fast ENERGY: The raw power of the Porsche 911 Turbo makes it hard to tame if the driver is not careful. It manages to transfer almost all of this power to the ground thanks to its excellent all-wheel drive system and the new (optional) limited slip differ- ential. This allows for almost unbelievable exit speeds on the track. The frightening thing is that this engine actually uses less turbo boost pressure than the last car. We tested the car at Portugals Estoril MotoGP circuit. We weren't allowed to use the main straight, but the cars easily pushed past 200km/h on the short back straight. The only downside was the tenden- cy for its nose to push on (understeer) through the long sweeping final bend, a trait I'm told by pro race drivers would be cured by switching to stickier race rubber. We were urged to leave the stability control on, but this still allows some sideways action coming out of the bends. A few years ago, the 911 Turbo was hard to tame and its mixture of weight at the rear and great power sent many a driver off the track backwards. While you still have to be careful, especially when lifting off, the new car is much more forgiving. The brakes have eye-popping restraining power and never seem to fade. It is also far easier to drive faster thanks to the PDK dual clutch auto- matic, which when equipped with the Sports Chrono package, has the very handy launch control. The PDK is so much better than the previous regular automatic thanks to its ability to make lightning quick shifts in Sport Plus mode, faster than any race driver. Flicking up and down gears using the optional gear shift paddles, which are so much better than the standard toggle switches, is great fun. In its default setting, the PDK makes smooth comfortable shifts and is good at picking when to change. 911 hybrid on hold DON'T hold your breath for a hybrid or pure electric Porsche 911. That's the message from Porsches chief engineer and man in charge of the 911 program, Dr Erhard Mossle. The German sportcar maker made headlines at September's Frankfurt Motor Show when it announced it was working on an electric sportscar and was also considering a hybrid 911. Dr Mossle says that while Porsche is considering a wide range of drive- train options for its line-up, an electric 911 was still at least 10 to 15 years away. While Porsche will launch a petrol electric version of its Cayenne four- wheel drive next year, with a hybrid Panamera to follow, Dr Mossle says there would be no 911 hybrid in the next five years. We have to be sure that the car meets the customers expectation, says Dr Mossle, who is talking to carsGuide at the international launch of the new 911 Turbo. Dr Mossle said Porsche would not introduce an electric 911 until battery technology improved considerably. It would need to be able to deliver a range of 300km, in a sporty driving manner, he says. We need the battery technology first and then it has to be the right price. Dr Mossle says Porsche, which was recently taken over by the giant Volkswagen Group, is currently look- ing at alternate powertrain technol- ogy. He says there is a great opportunity for Porsche to work with the Volkswa- gen Group and perhaps use some of its expertise in hybrid technology. The Panamera and Cayenne hybrid system was a joint development between Porsche and VW, which were separate at the beginning of the development process. But to build a 911 hybrid, Porsche would need to overcome a range of issues. Dr Mossle says these include the increased weight of any such system, at a time the company is going to great lengths to remove weight from the vehicle, as well as packaging issues related to battery storage. He says Porsche could well intro- duce a hybrid 911 if such issues can be overcome. Asked if this, and a possible electric vehicle, would detract from the image of brand, Dr Mossle says there is nothing wrong with a company intro- ducing a new technology. For now, Porsche is busy working on further developing petrol engines. It has just introduced a new 911 Turbo which, despite having a larger engine with more power and torque, is lighter and uses up to 16 per cent less fuel. The next 911, the 998 generation, is expected to be launched in 2011 and prototypes are currently being tested. Weight reduction and engine effi- ciency gains are key areas of focus for the team of engineers currently working on the vehicle. JAMES STANFORD
October 17th 2009
October 31st 2009