Magnus Walker drives 911 Turbos old and new

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Porsche wants a better ‘connected car’ [UPDATE]

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Porsche wants a better ‘connected car’ [UPDATE]

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2015 Porsche Panamera S

Porsche brought the Panamera in for its garage makeover and drove it out looking almost exactly the same. Turns out it was one of those fancy German refreshes where everything happens in places you can’t immediately see, as we found recently on the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

The marquee revision across the lineup is under the hood, where every engine gets, at the very least, more power. Such is the case for the naturally aspirated V6 in the entry models, fitted with an increase of 10 horsepower for a total of 310. The same goes for the naturally-aspirated 4.8-liter V8, which lives only in the Panamera GTS now, and gets 10 more hp for a total of 430. That same V8, twin-turbocharged in the Turbo model, is graced with 20 more ponies for 520 hp.

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The mightiest marquee revision is saved for the S models, which surrender their use of the 4.8-liter V8 and get a 3.0-liter, all-aluminum, twin-turbocharged V6 in its place. It’s a brand-new engine designed in-house and related to the 3.6-liter V6 in the base models, but with new features like a magnesium timing chain cover, variable camshaft timing for the intake and the exhaust valves, and a new fuel- injection system. Putting out 420 hp and 384 pound-feet of torque, it’s got 20 more hp and 15 more lb-ft than the V8 it replaces. What’s more, torque used to peak from 3,500 to 5,000 rpm, but the new torque curve maintains maximum twist from 1,750 to 5,000 rpm. It is less thirsty as well, posting an estimated fuel economy of 17/27 miles per gallon city/highway, besting the 16/24 city/highway of before. An improved stop-start mechanism contributes to this, as it cuts the engine earlier, and the coasting function benefits from a new disc clutch that can decouple the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission from the driveline.

As we wrote in our Panamera S E-Hybrid review, you’d need to be obsessed with the Panamera to notice the sheet metal changes around that engine. It’s the perfect car to ask, oh so coyly, “Notice anything different about me?” while you stand there dumbfounded, silently thinking, “No.” Here is your cheat sheet: the front and back ends are “tighter,” meaning faintly more squared off, the front intakes are larger, the tailgate gets wider rear glass over the same-sized opening, the rear spoiler is wider, and the rear license plate bracket has been mounted lower. But even now that you know what the changes are, odds are still 200-to-1 against you actually noticing.

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Then there are changes that you genuinely can’t see, like the placement of its steel, aluminum, and magnesium materials: the sedan has gained 22 pounds compared to pre-facelift, but Porsche said it has put more lightweight materials at the edges of the car to improve its responses.

Bi-xenon headlights make the grade as standard equipment, while dynamic LED headlights get a place on the options list. Inside, platinum grey leather is replaced by agate grey as the standard interior fare. (The new color is so close to brown that when a Porsche rep told us, “That’s our new agate grey interior,” we weren’t sure what he was talking about, so we pointed to the interior and asked, “this?”) Convenience features get a boost with lane departure warning and surround view, adaptive cruise control that can provide additional braking assistance, and the Porsche Car Connect app with remote functionality like vehicle tracking and odometer information… because for some reason you might need to check your odometer reading while you’re supposedly busy doing other things.

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As with the exterior appearance, the driving experience remains indelibly that of the Panamera. That extra horsepower and snappier torque drops the 0-60 time by 0.3 seconds, to 4.9 without the Sport Chrono pack, or 4.6 seconds with it. Beyond that you would, again, be hard put to tell the 2015 model from the one before the revisions. Around town, where one could theoretically make a substantial case for the rewards of a lot more torque at half the rpm, it’s tough to break out the kazoos because we never felt the V8 lacked low-end torque.

There are three suspensions setups available: steel springs with fixed damping rates, steel springs with adjustable damping (PASM), and air suspension. Not only has hardware like control arms and dampers been made larger across the three options, but commodity components like bushings and those control arms have been harmonized across them as well. Spend money on the larger parts that have an easier time supporting the car – even the needles inside the dampers are upsized – save money on using more common components. Nothing has been lost in the exercise: handling was excellent before and remains so – an accomplishment in a two-ton car that is as just as thrilling as it was in 2009 when it came out. Even without the $30,000 options on our test car, there isn’t another executive sedan (err, hatchback) in this bracket that is both as useful and dynamically capable as the Panamera. We haven’t been on a curvy road yet that can intimidate it.

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It’s too bad about that exhaust note, though, which suffers from the same soggy cardboard thrumming as we encountered from the 3.6-liter V6 in the S E-Hybrid.

When engineers walked off with that NA V8, they took its exhaust note with it; put the previous car in Sport Plus and the variable exhaust spat like it was in a rap battle. In fact, that sound might have been the best thing about driving the Panamera hard. The sport exhaust button on our Sport Chrono-equipped car couldn’t come close to producing the same hearty tone – the only letdown on the whole package. If we were cynical we’d say that Porsche was lining up a way to make it a cost option, like the larger fuel tank that adds $400 to the price. But we’re not that cynical.

The 2015 Panamera S is more powerful, faster, more efficient and offers more features on top of that gorgeous–if-busy cabin and those lounge-worthy rear seats. Unless you insist on a healthy dose of exhaust note with your six-figure sedan we don’t know where you’d be disappointed with this latest offering, another tab in the Less Is More automotive filing cabinet. Maybe with next year’s model changes, though, Porsche will let the tailpipes again carry the torch for More Is More.

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517390132 c 570 411 2015 Porsche Panamera S

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Porsche to introduce new Boxster Spyder, Macan GTS this year

Dig the new Porsche Cayman GT4 but really wish it came in open-top form? Love the Boxster GTS but wish it had more punch? Well we’ve got good news for you, friend, as that seems to be precisely what Porsche has in store. Among the new models the Volkswagen Group has lined up for this year will be a new Porsche Boxster Spyder. Although no details were announced along with the name, there are a few elements we can look forward to.

The new Boxster Spyder is tipped to be essentially an open-top version of the Cayman GT4, but just how many of the latter’s components will make the jump from coupe to convertible remain to be seen. The GT4 packs the 3.8-liter flat six from the 911 Carrera S with 385 horsepower, channeled to the rear wheels through an old-school six-speed manual transmission. It also has carbon-ceramic brakes, revised aero, and a stiffened suspension. The Spyder version of the previous Boxster arrived in 2009 with a modest 14-horsepower boost, a retuned suspension and a good 176 pounds trimmed off its curb weight thanks to the elimination of the motorized soft top, air-con and other components.

That’s not all Porsche has in store for 2015, though. The German automaker has also confirmed a Macan GTS is in the works that promises to explore the little crossover’s performance potential. Projecting just what Porsche will do to Macan to give it the GTS treatment, though, is a little tricky. Sure, the German automaker already offers GTS of the rest of its lineup, but just where that model slots in to each line varies. On the Boxster and Cayman, it slots in between the S and GT4/Spyder. For the 911, it serves as a mid-point between the Carrera S and the GT3. And with the Panamera and Cayenne, the GTS bridges the gap between the S and Turbo models. Considering both the Macan S and Macan Turbo pack twin-turbo V6s, the Macan GTS could serve as a mid-point between the S and Turbo with around 350-360 hp, or (more likely) top the range with upwards of 420 hp. One way or another, though, we can expect upgrades to the suspension, brakes, rolling stock and trim to complete the package.

Most of the rest of the announcements made in VW’s annual report we either already knew about or are of little interest, but the document also confirms new Lamborghinis on the way, including two new versions of the Aventador (likely to be the new SV coupe we just saw and an SV roadster) and three more of the Huracán as well, including two Spyder versions of the latter. It’s shaping up to be a good year.

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Porsche GT division rules out AWD, SUVs

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Porsche to expand range, Ferrari fighter a possibility

Matthias Müller ? Annual Press Conference 2015 ? March 13, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen,

After looking at business year 2014 in detail, I would now like to put my focus on 2015 and the medium-term future.

The new business year started extremely well for Porsche. We were able to follow up on the success of the previous year with good delivery figures. By the end of February, we had already delivered 31,000 new vehicles to our customers worldwide. This is approximately a third more than the first two months of 2014.

These figures are particularly pleasing because the global environment has not improved and is anything but easy. The worldwide political situation is unchanged and characterised by many uncertainties. We can only hope that there will be a lasting change for the better to the situation in the Ukraine and the Middle East. And likewise neither can the euro crisis be regarded as solved, as the latest developments in Greece show. In China, too, long-term planning is difficult in view of the looming threat of trade barriers and stricter environmental standards.

We have therefore spoken out very clearly in favour of the free trade agreement between the EU and the USA. The rules and regulations standardised by TTIP will help us to reduce costs. For example, today we still have to offer two different door mirrors or attachments for number plates. With TTIP this would no longer be necessary. I am fundamentally convinced that in the long term we would all benefit from open markets with fair, contractually agreed rules.

A few weeks ago I read a report by “technology trend researchers” that said that in eight years’ time at the latest we will be able to use an app to call a driverless taxi. Maybe that will be the case, who knows. But even in eight years’ time most people will much prefer to do something else – to drive a Porsche themselves.

Of course, we will also follow the technological path to the future and support our customers with intelligent assistance systems in their Porsche if there is a demand for this and it is expedient. But we do not need to be the technology leader in this area.

We want to continue to take the lead and to leave the competitive field behind where the essential values of our brand are found. This particularly applies to the engine, the drivetrain and the whole chassis. These are the decisive components for the sporty performance of a vehicle. And these are also the main features that distinguish a Porsche from the competition and make it unique.

Nonetheless, with every new model generation we will provide a contemporary answer to actual customer wishes relating to connectivity and operating convenience. Our customers quite rightly expect this from us. But they don’t want a smartphone on four wheels or the biggest touchscreen in the centre console from us. At Porsche there is no room for window-dressing. Rather, we aim to smartly combine the available technologies and applications with the automobile, which already is a highly complex system, to form a single unit. This alone necessitates high investments in research and development.
And we are also tightening our quality assurance. In July last year we opened a new analysis and quality centre in Zuffenhausen. This enables even more detailed error- cause analyses for the different components. A comparable quality and analysis centre will start operation in Leipzig in a year’s time. Because we believe that if you stop becoming better, you stop being good.

In addition, we have set ourselves the challenge of developing sustainable solutions for climate protection. This continues to be a very important topic for our industry. Porsche has shown that downsizing, hybrid drive systems and lightweight design enable great advances in reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions without limiting the sporty driving pleasure that is typical of our brand. We will continue to resolutely pursue this strategy.

As you see, big challenges still face us. But if we act circumspectly to remain highly profitable on a long-term basis, the future will hold lots of opportunities for Porsche, and we will seize them with confidence.

This year our deliveries will reach the 200,000-vehicle mark. But it is not this number alone that is decisive for us. I have always said that the creation of value is what is important to us – that means long-term and sustainable growth. This is also demonstrated by the fact that we continue to be on target with our operating results with an average operating return on sales of 15 percent and return on investment of 21 percent.

Even more important than the corporate figures are the people who work for Porsche. I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the fact that the number of employees in the Porsche Group has grown by more than 70 percent since 2010 to more than 22,400 today. Last year alone we employed around 3,000 women and men. Can you name another German industrial enterprise of a comparable size that is able to report such recruitment figures? And we will create further jobs to secure our growth. Our target for 2018 is approximately 25,000 employees.

Integrating all these new colleagues in the existing workforce to create a powerful team requires a huge effort. Eventually, we all want to retain the culture of our company and to remain a highly attractive employer in the future.

This is why we will consistently develop our sites and prepare them for the future. This also applies to our main plant in Zuffenhausen where, among other things, in the next few years we will be constructing a new engine plant and a new body shop for a total of more than 600 million euros. The heart of our company is here in Zuffenhausen. From 2016 this is where all our two-door sports cars will be produced – the 911, the Boxster and the Cayman – with maximum production flexibility.

This applies to our development centre in Weissach in which we will continue to invest approximately 100 million euros each year. Even though we do not know which road will lead to the automotive future, we are certain that cars engineered by Porsche will drive on it. This applies equally to our second production site, the plant in Leipzig. There we are further expanding our capacities for more than 500 million euros so that we can produce the entire Panamera in our Saxony plant from 2016. In the course of this year we will start employing and training several hundred new production staff. In addition, we are creating approximately 100 new jobs for engineers.

We are looking forward to the new members of the Porsche team. Because one thing is clear: we will only be able to secure and extend our market leadership if we succeed in attracting and retaining excellent employees in the future.

As you know, I was reappointed Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG for another term of office in January of this year. Furthermore, two weeks ago the Executive Board of Volkswagen AG appointed me to the Group Board of Management. I see it as a great honour and a sign of confidence to be a regular member there. However, I would like to emphasise that this appointment will not affect my work here at Porsche in any way. It goes without saying that I will remain Chairman of the Executive Board here in Zuffenhausen. Together with my colleagues I have lots of plans here.

For example, in the not too distant future we will present a seventh model series. But I am not yet able to tell you exactly when this will happen. There are already promising plans, but no board decision yet. But one thing is clear: there is no urgency whatsoever here. Because we are very successful with our derivative strategy for the existing model series. And we will intensify this strategy. Our derivatives meet the wish of many of our customers to own a vehicle that is as individual as possible. In this respect, this year we have already made people sit up and take notice with the Cayman GT4 and the 911 GT3 RS. And you can expect further highlights from us in the coming months.

There is one thing that I would like to expressly mention today: Le Mans! At the annual press conference last year I told you that for our return to the world’s most famous endurance race our focus was not primarily on “winning” but rather on “keeping up” with the competition. We did more than just keep up. But when you’re thwarted so close to the finishing line as the leader – as we were – then it’s certainly painful! On this day I sympathised with the team and all our fans who followed the race on the track or live here at the museum. But those who know us understand that we love sporty competition and that we are already eagerly anticipating this year’s race in Le Mans. This year we will enter with three teams and an even better 919 Hybrid. And it is no secret when I say that this time we would like to have a place on the podium. All these efforts have an objective that goes far beyond Le Mans. The experience and the knowledge from the high-speed high-tech laboratory of the 919 Hybrid will benefit all our future vehicles and therefore also our customers.

Because today more than ever the principle of “from the racetrack to the road” applies. The advancement of electric mobility is also a focus here. For us the question is not whether a vehicle powered purely by electricity with the performance typical of Porsche will hit the roads, but rather when we will delight our customers with a vehicle like this. Our plug-in hybrids are currently the best conceivable offer. One thing is certain: in the future, too, we will be driven by the perfect synthesis of performance and efficiency. We call this “Intelligent Performance” – and it is typically Porsche.

Porsche has developed successfully and is in a better position today than ever before. We have already achieved major targets of the Porsche Strategy 2018 ahead of time. That was a Herculean task, which called for a huge effort on the part of all those involved. But we can be more than satisfied with what we have achieved so far.

Of course, we are already thinking about setting the strategic course for the future of Porsche far beyond the year 2018. Nevertheless, it is still too early to formulate a new Porsche Strategy 20-X. Our first priority now is to consolidate what we have achieved and secure these achievements in the long term. Against the background of rapid growth in the last four years we need to carefully examine and optimise our processes and adjust them to new requirements if necessary. But despite all the changes one thing is certain: in the future we will continue to delight our customers with exciting sports cars.

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Chris Harris hits the track with the Porsche Cayman GT4

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