New Porsche 911: Completely updated, while maintaining traditional look and feel

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ByDave Kunz via KABC logo
Monday, December 9, 2019
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Porsche has updated some elements of its iconic 911, but is keeping the traditional design that purists love.

Like many car brands, Porsche has diversified over the years.

They now offer two SUVs (the Cayenne and Macan), a large sedan (the Panamera), and smaller sports cars like the mid-engine Cayman and Boxster.

But for some purists, the signature model in the Porsche lineup is the one with a number for a name: 911.

For 2020, there's an all-new 911 to keep up with the times. With a flat-six engine at the rear, this example chassis is very much like every 911 before it, going back to the one in 1965.

The most notable element is the overall shape of the car. Even though the body has evolved over time, it's an iconic design that Porsche knows better than to mess with.

Same goes for the interior. Things like the general layout, and the ignition switch location to the left of the steering column. Even the way the new instruments sit in front of the driver - with the tachometer front and center - pay homage to the past. The design of the gauges mimic the layout of the first 911 models from all those years ago. The 911 is still a driver's car, through-and-through.

And drive it does, balanced like no 911 before. The widened rear is now part of all 911s (previously that was only for the higher-performance variants like the GT and Turbo models), and the car feels planted and secure on a curvy road. If you've ever driven a 911 of any generation in your life, you'll feel right at home behind the wheel of this new one.

If there's one thing Porsche knows, it's how to make its cars run very quickly around even the most challenging race tracks. That's why the standard transmission on the new 911 is Porsche's latest 8-speed PDK automatic, which of course can be shifted manually if the driver desires.

But if there's something else Porsche knows - it's that its customers love tradition. And some like the tradition of a conventional manual transmission with a clutch pedal. So after the initial roll-out of the new cars, they'll begin phasing in a 7-speed manual gearbox as a no-cost option.

But that manual gearbox will be a no-cost option on a fairly expensive car. While you can still get a 911 for just under $100,000, the 911 Carrera S (with more power; 443 horsepower vs. 379 in the base 911) has a base price of $113,000. With some options, the example I tested stickered out at over $125,000.

This car is obviously not for those on a budget. But then again, Porsches never have been. For example, when the 911 first came out in 1965, the sticker price was just over $6,300, just $600 shy of US median household income that year.

So while the auto world is changing, and even fabled Porsche is getting into the electric car business, some things endure. Like the 911, a car that stays true to its roots, even 55 years after the first one debuted.

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