The eighth-generation Porsche 911 has just been launched in India. We drive it around the Buddh International Circuit and speak with Porsche India’s Pavan Shetty on the German carmaker’s plans
There are very, very few timeless cars. Thanks to advancements in engine technology, demands of luxury and the need for modern safety, a car today looks very different from a car in 1963. But then there is the Porsche 911. If you have ever been to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, which is one of the best automotive museums in the world (alongside the Mercedes-Benz Museum in the same city), you will see an exhibit which is nothing more than line drawings of Porsche’s evolution, from the original Porsche 356 to the latest 911, and you realise that the car’s designers have always followed the mantra of “evolution, not revolution.”
Its engineers, on the other hand, have not, and that is apparent when you get behind the wheel of the latest, eighth-generation iteration of the Porsche 911. This car is technically called the Porsche 992 series to define it as a separate model from the seventh generation, which was the 991 series, and the sixth generation, which was the 997 series, and so on. But place it next to an earlier generation and while the physical similarities are obvious, the differences from the earlier 991 are fairly subtle to the naked eye. On the inside and to drive, however, there is a world of difference. The first is of course the new digital console. The Porsche Communication Management system, which now has a much larger screen and is laid out far straighter than the earlier layout, is a sort of homage to the earlier 911 designs.
The Carrera 2, two-wheel drive variant of the new Porsche 911 that was launched at the BIC, will set you back by Rs 1.82 crore with the Cabriolet, with its fancy multi-panel folding fabric roof costing Rs 17 lakh more. While the cars have a flat six-cylinder twin-turbo-charged engine like its predecessor, the 450 horsepower is 30 horsepower more, and this means it can go from zero to 100 kmph in 3.7 seconds, and even faster if you get the sports chrono package. Try the Launch Control feature and you will feel your spine meld into the seat. But any car can go very fast in a straight line. The beauty of the modern 911 is that the responsive engine not only goes fast around corners, but accelerates like its pants are on fire out of the corner. And despite only rear-wheel drive, and the fact that it has that heavy lump of an engine at the back, the shamanic rituals that the Porsche engineers must have conducted to defy the concepts of inertia and momentum pay off. You do not need to be trained in the dark arts to be able to drive this car, anybody can drive this 911, even though very few can afford it in India.
The 911 though is a small part of Porsche’s sales in India. The bulk of the sales for the sportscar firm are from the big, bruising Cayenne Sports Utility Vehicle, whose third iteration was launched by the carmaker in India last year. The Cayenne, whose diesel-powered model was the company’s bread and butter, lost the oil burner this generation, a direct result of the emissions scandal after which Porsche said that its future was petrol and electric. But despite there not being a diesel option of the new car, the Cayenne was sold out for three months. This, according to Pavan Shetty, Director, Porsche India, is because, “Porsche does not stand for diesel or petrol, or even electric or hybrid. Porsche stands for the promise of the brand. That is performance, that is longevity.” Porsche also showcased the second-generation of their smaller SUV, the Macan. “We will be bringing that to India later this year and it will be competitively priced.”
Shetty, speaking exclusively to The Pioneer, also revealed that Porsche is unveiling a new “digital showroom” in central Delhi. Opening by the end of 2019, here customers and fans alike can not only experience some of Porsche’s products but also have an immersive dive into the brand. “They will be able to digitally configure their cars. Do things like select the colour of the seat belts they want, for example. But we realise that we get a lot of our brand relevance from fans, so yes, we will also welcome fans into this new concept of a showroom.” Delhi will have only the sixth such digital showroom for Porsche in the world.