Porsche started work on the Porsche 991 under former R&D chief Wolfgang Dürheimer, now at Bentley and Bugatti, and the former CEO, Wendelin Wiedeking. After Volkswagen assumed control of Porsche, styling changes were reportedly incorporated at the “request” of Ferdinand Piëch.
Given the next Porsche 911's longer wheelbase, we expect a more supple ride without a corresponding sacrifice in dynamic competence. Like every Porsche 911 before, the new model will remain rear-engined. Rear-wheel drive will, of course, be standard, and all-wheel drive—an option since the 1989 Carrera 4—will be available. The standard engine will be the naturally aspirated flat-six, likely in two displacements, as is currently the case. We don’t expect huge power increases, but Porsche will employ electric-assist steering to aid efficiency and some weight-saving measures such as more aluminum body panels.
The Turbo will remain at the top of the portfolio, and there are even plans for a hybrid version. More unexpectedly, Porsche might also offer a turbocharged flat-four. Such a model would be easy to justify historically—the 356 was a four, as was the 912. But a turbocharged four could get awfully close to the naturally aspirated six and dilute the “Turbo” moniker, which is still associated with the top-hole Porsche 911's.
Predictably, there will be a coupe and a convertible body as well as numerous variations, such as future GT2 and GT3 models. Their successive launches mean that the current 997 and the new Porsche 991 will be built alongside each other for a while.
Porsche knows the Cayman’s mid-engine arrangement is dynamically superior to the Porsche 911's, but the latter’s rear-engine layout enables usable rear seats. Plus, it helps to create those classic proportions. With Porsche venturing off into formerly unknown territory such as the small-SUV and sedan markets, the classic look provides a tether to Porsche’s past. And heritage is becoming an ever-larger part of the Porsche 911's selling proposition as it faces fierce new competition, including everything from the Audi R8 and the Nissan GT-R to boulevard cruisers such as the BMW 6-series and the Mercedes-Benz SL.