‘Change is easy, improvement is far more difficult.’
It would have been wrong to expect a complete revolution for the latest Porsche 911, but when the camouflage finally came off this week (after months of not very subtle public testing) it did feel anti-climactic.
Perhaps this was due to the aforementioned testing phase, which feels like it has been happening for years (perhaps they’ve taken a leaf out of the new Supra’s book?) or simply because we know that huge changes simply aren’t Porsche’s thing when it comes to their most precious model.
In over 50 years there’s only been eight comprehensive revisions to the 911 lineup. From the original air-cooled 911 in 1963 to the introduction of the turbocharged 930 in the 1970s, followed by the 964 and 993 and eventually into the water-cooled era with the 996, 997 and 991.
From the outside at least, it seems the 992 is more 991.3 than an all new Porsche, but perhaps that’s to be commended?
I wrote my thesis in college about planned obsolescence in the motoring industry, and how manufacturers were already working on the next car to tempt you out of your current one, so my senses on this subject are heightened. It’s something which is evident in almost every facet of today’s consumer driven world, where companies want you to ditch your current (and usually perfectly fine) product for the latest and greatest model, only to attempt to do the same again next year.
There are two main approaches to this. The first is when a manufacturer engineers a failure point into a product, so you need to buy a new one (i.e. lightbulbs). The other is when they make the current product seem obsolete by introducing a new design, with the inference that ‘new’ is always ‘better’. At one stage or another, we’ve all fallen for it.
It’s been a driving force in the automotive world since the 1920s, but perhaps became most apparent in the 1950s when Harley Earl’s tail-fins swept across the motoring world. The 1960s, when this craze was at its peak, was when the first 911 was introduced.
The Porsche should also have followed this then proven recipe for success, but it didn’t. It went its own way.
Even 55 years later, the 911 still refuses to follow convention with the 992. Sure, it’s a little bit better here and there than the outgoing 991, but it doesn’t feel like a cynical cash grab or a new model for the sake of a new model.
Current owners of previous generation Porsches won’t feel like they must upgrade, and for the most part will probably remain content by owning a 911 which is part of a clear lineage.
In keeping with almost six decades of tradition, and not attempting to re-invent itself, the 992 is refreshing in an age where ‘new’ feels old.
One has to wonder what Porsche envisions for the future of the 911 and what they themselves would consider to be the perfect 911? It’s telling then, that there won’t be a manual transmission option available for the 992 at launch, although a traditional 7-speed gearbox will be offered later on.
That, however, is a whole other conversation. As is the recent influx of collector orientated models which serve to inflate prices. I’m looking at you, GT2 RS Clubsport.
Well, I guess no one’s perfect after all.
Photography by Porsche