It can’t be easy to redesign a classic like the 911...
There are no other cars in the industry that have this track record, what I call this continuous C.V. It is a little bit tougher; what is the balance between new elements that are taking the car into the future and where are you referring to the past, not to lose the connection to the previous models? This leads to more discussions in the studio but this is natural in the process.
As designers there are always things we would love to have and for certain reasons it doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s not possible to bend the steel the way we would like to have it or we have legal restrictions for example. But on a scale of 0 – 100 per cent of what we are happy with, I would say we are 99 per cent.
Is it more difficult to design the basic Carrera and then create the GT3 and other versions?
If you work at Porsche in design you are used to this since the 911 has a very strong history of these derivatives, so we know from the very beginning that there will be a Turbo version, a GT3, whatever. So sometimes you have an idea for a certain design feature but then you hold it back, maybe use it later on the GT3 or GT3 RS.
This is even more important for the cabrio. The convertible is driving a lot of the package because when the roof is folded down, the package is pretty tight back there, so although the coupé is the first design to come to the market, some of the things we do on the coupé are derived from the convertible.
Basically from the very beginning we have the derivatives in mind and we are working in parallel with them all.
What are the parts of a 911 of that you simply can’t change between generations?
If we start on the technical layout, the 911 has the engine in the back and it drives a lot of the package and the look of the car. When we introduced the last generation I was asked the question “Why not put the engine in the middle or the front” but then it’s not a 911 anymore. So this drives really the proportions of the car and then we have to decide how many new elements do we introduce, how close do we stick to the former generation.
Theoretically you can change everything, but for example if you take the shape of the headlamps, theoretically — and with the generation 996 they have done it — you can change this, but on each and every new generation you have this discussion; how far can you go, is it a 911, just the new 911, or do you not recognise it anymore as a 911?
Which generations of the old models inspired the 992 design?
We look at all the generations but since we wanted a more compact look we went through the history of all the 911s and we saw this first Turbo generation, based on the G model, the 930. There that you still see the small narrow cabin but due to the improved performance they needed wider wheels and this car had a kind of ‘add on’ character — the wheel arches are not blended in. We found that this helps to make the car look smaller and more compact than it really is and that was the inspiration.
What design features were not accepted?
I won’t tell you what I didn’t get! But I will tell you there are two things which I’m very proud of and which we have to fight for. One was the third brake lamp which you can imagine some people asked “Why”. Because it has much more character, it’s a very strong element so I’m very happy that we got this.
On the interior we have the rev counter which is analogue and the screens either side which are digital but free form, resembling the old graphic with the five tubes. So again a long discussion about the ergonmics because it’s so wide — you can’t see everything. But on the old cars you couldn’t see the first and the fifth tube either, and you have to accommodate everyone — from petite ladies, to guys who are two metres tall. There were also some unbelievably good ideas from the design department which did not survive but they are among this 1 per cent of ideas which did not make it.