RWD and AWD - and bhp!
RWD and AWD - and bhp
When Porsche-boss Wendelin Wiedeking took over the steering wheel of Germany's smallest car manufacturer, the company had just one model range - the legendary 911 - and suffered from bad sales. Since then, he increased the number of ranges to three and made the auto-maker the most profitable car company in Germany. Now there's yet more models underway - and even two new ranges are just about to get the green light. Andreas Conradt let's you in on Porsche's secrets.
The next 911 Turbo will sport 460bhp and go on sale in spring 2006. It is also said that the new car's improved underbody aerodynamics and more efficient bi-plane style rear wing should result in a top speed well in excess of the current car's 305 km/h, although we wonder for whom that speed is not sufficiently swift. The Turbo will also adopt a new four-wheel drive system that allows power to be fed to the individual wheel with the most grip, handy when you've got an awesome 460 ft/lb of torque (twisting power) to call upon. Expect the price to be in the region of 130 000 Euros.
Just a few months after the Turbo, the 997 Targa is expected to make its debut in time for summer 2006; our illustration indicates that it will have a powered glass roof section which pops up and slides back. Dual exhaust pipes seen on earlier spy-shots show that it's got the hotter Carrera S engine (3.8-litre, 350bhp), though informants at the moment are unclear whether the Targa will be based upon the rear-wheel drive Carrera S or the upcoming four-wheel drive Carrera 4 - or if this roof option will be offered with both of these models.
The new 997-series 911 GT3, the road-going version of the GT3 Cup race car, is just about to be launched, too. Give-aways include twin exhaust tailpipes, centrally-mounted. It is expected to have the 3.8-litre engine as in the Carrera S, however, rather than the Cup's 3.6, giving a good 400 bhp nonetheless though it's unlikely to rev to 8200rpm like the race car. Three new versions of the 911-range underway - that's quite a challenge for a small company like Porsche. But it's not all: though we do not expect much more to happen to the Boxster and Cayman ranges at present, there's a lot to report about two off-roaders and even a four-door Porsche.
Looking at this photo of the Porsche Cayenne, you might not find the full-scale overhaul its detractors would recommend, but tweaks to its head- and taillights, slight bumper and bonnet reshaping, and perhaps small changes to its suspension and chassis; the car snapped here appears to be quite low-riding, and to have a longer front overhang.
Although the 911 has reverted to the signature Porsche circular headlights, the Cayenne's lights are to get yet more slanted and angular, perhaps in a bid to create more of a distinction from the 911, Boxster and Cayman and to establish it as a Porsche model in its own right, rather than a 4x4 pretending to be a sports car. The rear LED tail lights are also less referential.
These tweaks should, Porsche hopes, keep up interest in the Cayenne until the Mk2 range comes along; this is scheduled for 2008, and is expected to include a Yank-friendly, RX400h-rivalling hybrid petrol-electric version, though - despite rumours - a VW-derived diesel is looking unlikely.
Porsche has finally confirmed that it will build a fourth model line, to be called Panamera. The Panamera will be a "sport-coupe in the premium class with four seats and four doors", according to a brief notice. The production vehicle is expected for the 2009 calendar year. The Panamera will be built at the Leipzig factory alongside the Cayenne, and sources are estimating an annual production of nearly 20,000 units. The sleek rear-wheel-drive four-seater will be powered by Porsche's 4.5-liter V-8 - either the 340-horsepower version, or the optional 450-horsepower turbocharged engine. A hot 500-horsepower version may eventually follow. The new chassis may be shared with Volkswagen in an arrangement similar to the one that spawned the Cayenne.
Even further ahead than a hybrid Cayenne are plans of the sportscar maker regarding a possible fifth Porsche model range (after the four door coupe Panamera). According to rumours it is about another smaller off road model based on the upcoming Audi Q5, this one being a smaller version of the brand new Q7. This Porsche compact off-roader is set to become a rival against the successful BMW X3 and the upcoming Mercedes MLK. No information about the looks of the "Compact Cayenne" has seeped through yet, here is just an artist's impressions suggesting how such a car could look like.