LOS ANGELES – There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and that was partly the message Porsche CEO Oliver Blume gave his technical and design team for approaching the eighth generation of the iconic 911 sports car.
“You have to combine the tradition with the future,” Blume tells Wards after unveiling the new 911 at AutoMobility LA. “You have to recognize the 911 as a 911. We did a sharper car with more digital (content). The future and the 911’s past is the secret behind this car.”
The new 911 is more muscular, but it did not put it on like Charles Atlas. Surfacing is more taut and the front splitter more prominent, but otherwise it is instantly recognizable as a 911. The upright windshield, for example, continues to dominate the profile.
The bigger changes are inside, where driver-information displays go fully digital except for a centrally mounted analog tachometer.
Of course, the app officially arrives to the 911 with its redesign. Porsche Road Trip is a new digital travel plan, which suggests half-, full-day and two-day trips curated especially for the car and offering recommendations for lodging and restaurants along the way. Bookings are made directly through the app. It also offers up points of interest.
Mechanically, the 911 sticks with a rear-wheel-bias drivetrain, although all-wheel drive is available and the car’s rear-mounted turbocharged 3.0L 6-cyl. gets more power. Architecturally, changes are modest.
The big question of the car’s electrification, which Porsche has pursued aggressively on other models and will bring the Taycan battery-electric vehicle next year, remains unanswered.
“Electrification is important for Porsche,” Blume says. “With the 911 we will continue with our combustion engines. This platform is prepared for a hybrid in the future, but we have not decided yet. And when we introduce a battery beside a combustion engine, it has to be the strongest ever to be viable with this sports car.”
In a nod to the 911’s current efficiency, Blume makes a point of noting the 911 always has wrung its power from compact engines and reveals a second app called Porsche Impact, which enables owners to determine and offset their carbon footprint based on mileage, model and vehicle characteristics.
On the topic of alternative ownership models, such as subscriptions and car-sharing, Blume says the automaker continues to pursue two pilot programs in the U.S. In Atlanta, where Porsche’s U.S. importer is based, the automaker offers the 1-year-old Porsche Passport.
The monthly subscription offers members any Porsche delivered to their home or office without insurance or maintenance costs. It requires an application, $500 enrollment fee and comes in two membership tiers of $2,000 or $3,000 monthly.
“You could choose, every day, a new Porsche from our product portfolio,” Blume says.
A second program in Los Angeles and San Francisco is Porsche Host, a peer-to-peer car-sharing program. Vehicles can be hired from a Porsche owner for durations of one day to one month. A third party handles the vehicle exchange. Fees range from a couple hundred dollars for a few hours or thousands for the week.
“We’re testing it now. Look for a future model later,” Blume says.