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Tuesday 18th October 2011

PH Meets The 911's 'Director Of Emotions'

Q & A: Dr. Bernhard Pfäfflin, and the new 911 Carrera



The launch of a new generation Porsche 911 is always a significant event, and the 991 Carrera - replacing the 997 model and due in UK showrooms this December - is lighter, more powerful, more economical and full of innovative technical features.

Dr. Bernhard Pfäfflin in his office
Dr. Bernhard Pfäfflin in his office
It still looks every inch a 911 (no surprises there), but the new design is centred around a 100mm longer wheelbase compared to its predecessor, and the changes have seen the new 991 in Carrera S guise with all optioned goodies conquer the Nürburgring in 7-minutes 40-seconds; an incredible 14-seconds faster than the equivalent 997.

One of the brains behind the new 911 is 'NVH' man Dr. Bernhard Pfäfflin, and PH bumped into him at a 911 test day at Weissach. (That's 'bumped into' in the Liam Fox sense. Ed.)

Q1. Dr. Bernhard Pfäfflin, is it fair to say you're the Director of Emotions when it comes to Porsche's new 991 Carrera?


BP: (laughs) It's not my official title; I am the General Manager of the Noise and Vibration Department at Porsche, but dealing with some of the emotional elements that come with owning a 911 is part of my job.

Q2. So it is you who has final say on how desirable the 911 sounds is, which we must say, is something rather special.

BP: I do very much love my job, and I'm lucky that I have always loved the sound of the 911 and Porsches in general.

Q3. It is a huge challenge for everyone at Porsche to evolve the 911 with each generation, what have been the biggest steps forward with the new 991?


BP: There are so many important new things in the new car, but for me, I'd say it is the 100mm addition to the wheelbase, which was the start point for the 991's driving dynamics and safety. Also, the weight difference thanks to the aluminium construction (44% of the new 991's body is made of aluminium) means a huge difference over the older 997 model.

Q4: For the first time in the 911's history, engine displacement has gone down in the entry level Carrera (3.6-litres to 3.4-litres). Will 911 fans be surprised or even disappointed by this?

BP: I don't think so. The size of the engine isn't really important, but the improvements are. Yes, it is smaller, but it makes more power than the older 3.6-litre; is stronger and has lower fuel consumption. People will accept this, as after all it's still a six-cylinder boxer. It is most important for customers to drive the new car and feel how good the engines are, especially when compared to the 997's 3.6-litre.


Q5. A car's economy is fundamentally important these days, was it a challenge for this latest 911 to be a true sportscar and economical?

BP: Yes, it's always a big challenge, but it makes the goal for all of us very interesting. It's a traditional car (naturally aspirated petrol engined), so we have to improve its economy in very special ways. We therefore have the weight reduction, a very low drag coefficient, and Porsche Intelligent Performance functions, such as the automatic start-stop and electrical system recuperation.

Q6: The 991 is still unmistakably a 911 in its exterior design, but there have been significant changes to the body, haven't there?


BP: It still looks like a 911 should, and these changes are looking very good. Before we had a very short wheelbase, but the longer wheelbase now I think fits better with the proportions of the vehicle. The windscreen is also much flatter and this makes a big difference to the design and aerodynamics.

Q7: Many 911 purists are worried by the introduction of electro-mechanical power steering in the new 991. Can you assure them the system doesn't compromise the renowned feel 911 owners speak fondly about?

BP: Some of our competitors use only electric power steering, but we have a mechanical system that works with the electrics in the new car. The feeling and feedback is still excellent: it's like before, if not better than before.

Q8. Is there a danger of fitting too much technology in a 911? Certain owners may think some of the new systems are unnecessary in their sportscar...


BP: I think technology is very important for Porsche customers, especially in the 911. Many who will buy the 991 will have owned a 911 before, and they like the technology and want the next thing.

Q9. We're seeing a seven-speed manual gearbox for the first time; this is surely the end isn't it, or will we one day see eight- or nine-speed manuals?

BP: I'd never say never, but you really wouldn't need more than seven with a manual. Importantly with this gearbox, seventh gear is for cruising only and to help economy. The highest speed is reached in sixth gear still, and you'd only use seventh for the motorway, not on the race track.

Q10. You work in the emotions department with the noise and vibration that fills the cabin; do other car companies have such departments?

BP: Other companies have similar, but I don't think they have as many emotions as Porsche. We specialise in sound development, and work hard to get the right noise for the car.


Q11. The new 991 Carrera does sound incredible, so good work there. Is there a car the sounds better in your opinion?

BP: At the moment, I think the sound of this 991 Carrera is the best. I personally like the 997 GT3 sound very much, especially the 997 GT3RS 4.0. They sound nearly like a race car, which I like very much. Every day we hear sound tuning on our race cars, so we know where our normal road cars have to be.

Q12. And a 7-minute 40-seconds lap of the Nürburgring for the Carrera S, was that a surprise?

BP: It was a big surprise, but a very good one! To go 14-seconds faster than the 997 was incredible, a huge amount. Normally we'd only expect improvements in 1/10s of seconds.

Q13: So as and when a 991 GT3 arrives, surely we can expect even more headline grabbing Nürburgring lap times?

BP: At the moment there is no decision that we will develop a 991 GT3. But if we do, it will have the long wheel base and light body, which combined with the other GT3 features, will improve the Nürburgring lap time again.


Q14: And finally, the Porsche 911 is nearly 50 years old as a model. Do you think they'll be made until the end of time, and what can we expect from the 911s in ten years' time?

BP: As long as Porsche is there, there will be a 911. It's the backbone of the company, and for many people, the main reason we are working for Porsche. I think the 911 in 2021 will still have an internal combustion engine, still in the back of the car, and in my opinion, the comfort and sportiness will increase. On one side the likes of engine performance and braking performance will improve, but so also will driving comfort and reduction of background noise. Plus, driver assist and safety systems will increase.





Interview and article by Iain Curry

Chris-R
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Author Discussion

chanjam

Original Poster:

87 posts

113 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
anyone else think it looks like a cross between a panarema and a 599?

BreastofBritish

1,199 posts

107 months

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Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
I think it looks fantastic. Previous 2 models seemed to have something missing for me. But this one looks like the complete package to me. I love what they have done with the front and back - OK onlu subtle changes but for Porsche I think this is commendable because in the past I think they have been guilty of a 'that'll do' kind of attitude whereas they seemed to have given this one lots more thought. This paragraph from the article sums it up for me:

"Before we had a very short wheelbase, but the longer wheelbase now I think fits better with the proportions of the vehicle. The windscreen is also much flatter and this makes a big difference to the design and aerodynamics"

The not so circular lights and the indicators and the new rear lights make a huge difference. I'll have 2 please! biggrin

WCZ

2,422 posts

82 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
"At the moment there is no decision that we will develop a 991 GT3"

lies

AndyCzech

39 posts

46 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
The automotive equivalent of bigger triple-chocolate muffin plus chocolate cream but with 10% less calories.

What is there not to like?

CliveM

413 posts

73 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
It's bigger, inevitably. That alone rules it out for me.


There's a reason the older 911s have such a following - and it's not all to do with air-cooled engines...
Advertisement

stuckmojo

1,038 posts

76 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
I really like the 991, but some of the rear shots do not convince me totally. Especially that wing.

sleep envy

61,949 posts

137 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
Q13: So as and when a 991 GT3 arrives, surely we can expect even more headline grabbing Nürburgring lap times?

BP: At the moment there is no decision that we will develop a 991 GT3.

laugh

funny guy

Zod

27,174 posts

146 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
PH: don't put quotes in thread titles! It makes them inaccessible.

New_Breed

15 posts

92 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
Not to be overly pedantic, but the 911 did already have a reduction in displacement for the base model. the 996 had a 3.4l to the 993s' 3.6, however, since Porsche were clever enough to remove the badging denoting displacement, only people in the know were aware . And since the new engine on this and the previous occasion is more efficient in terms of power and economy, who really gives a damn about the displacement, as long as it's not a downsized turbo (which undoubtedly will be in store for the facelifted version)

nickfrog

3,678 posts

105 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
I find those shots not very flattering to the car for some reason, most others photos have been great so far but those don't (hopefully) do it justice.

TobesH

532 posts

95 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
I like it, would make a nice every day economical and nippy family car.


I'd be dead before you get me in Picasso a Verso or similar cr*p

geoffracing

617 posts

63 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all

Oh! A new 911, like every week!

Insight

601 posts

86 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
chanjam said:
anyone else think it looks like a cross between a panarema and a 599?
That was my initial reaction, something about the extra fat they have put around the rear wheel arch made me think that. Front indicators are gorgeous though, very feline.

cayman-black

3,991 posts

104 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
geoffracing said:
Oh! A new 911, like every week!
Ha ,looks worse than the old one.

j123

881 posts

80 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
"BP: Some of our competitors use only electric power steering, but we have a mechanical system that works with the electrics in the new car. The feeling and feedback is still excellent: it's like before, if not better than before."

The whole interview reads rather like a fully pre-arranged press release. But this part about the steering is simply not true. An electric signal still takes longer than Hydraulic fluid to send messages to the steering wheel of what the front wheels are doing. There is no other way to put it. The only way to make an electric system come close is to fit sensors to the wheels themselves in a fly by wire steering system where the wheels tell the steering exactly how much they are moving and when they are beginning to slide/losing grip. This is press related talk, j

goldy

6 posts

91 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
I wonder if they've managed to fit a RMS that lasts longer than 5 minutes with this car. They couldn't get it right with the 996/997 for the last 13 years!!!!!!

Mermaid

18,637 posts

59 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
goldy said:
I wonder if they've managed to fit a RMS that lasts longer than 5 minutes with this car. They couldn't get it right with the 996/997 for the last 13 years!!!!!!
Has there been a class action against Porsche for this "defect"?

LordGrover

23,129 posts

100 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
That looks like a long 100mm. scratchchin Looks a lot longer in those shots.
Purty though.

Schnellmann

1,707 posts

92 months

[news] 
Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
chanjam said:
anyone else think it looks like a cross between a panarema and a 599?
Not sure about the 599 but agree there are shades of Panamera, which is not good IMO.

Interview sounds like press-speak. I look forward to third party reviews for a more impartial assessment.

Again another new model that is bigger than the last one. Bigger is not better (for a sports car) in my view.

Not sure about the looks. From some angles it looks a bit ungainly.

Raja

5,447 posts

123 months

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Tuesday 18th October 2011 quote quote all
I'm sure it will sell well and all that but for me it just looks too big. Saw a 993 the other day and I though that was perfectly proportioned. The 996 for me was too ugly and I thought the 997 was enough of a step back in the right direction I bought one.

I'll wait to see one in the flesh but for now its not for me.
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