Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spy Shots : Porsche 911 Turbo

Porsche continues facelift spree with 911

Porsche 911 Turbo: Spy Shots

If there's ever been automotive case for constant evolution, it is the Porsche 911.
It seems like every time a new version of the rear-engined sports car debuts,
Porsche is already hard at work on a facelifted version of it that changes some 
subtle, barely noticeable aspect.  Such is the case with this round of images of a
facelifted 911 Turbo, which was seen undergoing winter testing alongside the 
facelifted, hardtop-version of the 911 Cabriolet we showed you yesterday.
The new,991-based 911 Turbo was just unveiled in May of 2013.

Like the Cabrio from yesterday, both the Turbo and naturally aspirated 

models shown here feature additional slats at the rear of the car, 
right behind the rear wheels. These slats on the standard model 
lend credence to what we learned yesterday - that even the regular 911
models could end up getting turbocharged mills.

The presence of the slats on the 911 Turbo, though, is what's really news. 

While the base car features a pair of vents on each side of its rear fascia,
the 911 Turbo gets three aside. Could it be possible that the 
turbocharged engine will be used across the board, with varying 
states of tune for Carrera, Carrera S and Turbo models? It certainly 
seems possible based on these images. 
Porsche 911 Turbo: Spy Shots

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

If you think your commute stinks, try Cuba.

Crammed bus in Havana, Cuba
Posted Jan 20th 2014 1:01PM

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Inside Porsche's secret museum warehouse

Porsche Museum WarehousePorsche Museum WarehousePorsche Museum WarehousePorsche Museum WarehousePorsche Museum WarehousePorsche Museum WarehousePorsche Museum Warehouse

Clashing patched tile and concrete flooring, mismatched opaque windows, exposed fire suppression systems and heavy-duty industrial shelving is immaterial when you consider that the warehouse is simply a constantly changing holding area for Porsche's retired racecars, show concepts, development mules, prototypes and engineering displays. All told, there are currently 518 vehicles in the museum's collection, but the polished public facility only has room to properly display 85 at any one time. With the exception of the approximately 100 or so vehicles scattered around the world (e.g., special exhibitions, historic races and undergoing restoration), the balance of the collection is stored in the warehouse. My guide said that there were 336 models currently in the building.
Most of the vehicles are in running condition, topped-off with vital fluids and with their batteries kept optimized.
Stepping from a bright and sunny crisp winter afternoon into the naturally lit warehouse was a bit surreal. Various Porsche models, some covered and others not (but none appeared dusty), stretched in all directions. The facility was spotlessly clean, but there was an overpowering smell of used motor oil, rubber and fuel. I questioned a curator and he disclosed that most of the vehicles are in running condition, topped-off with vital fluids and with their batteries kept optimized on a large rack of trickle-chargers.

The variety was astounding; the haphazard placements parked 200-mph GT1 LeMans winners directly across from
field tractors and salvaged Rothman 959 shells next to 986 Boxster show displays. There were 924 models stacked three high in the center of the room, and an orange 934 blocking another aisle. A full-size "Sally" mock-up, built on a chopped 2002 996 for Disney-Pixar's "Cars" movie, sat smiling in one room.

Pulling back a cover revealed the original 959 "Gruppe B" Concept.
While each and every vehicle (whole or part) told a story, there were some that really caught my eye.

Pulling back a cover revealed the original
959 "Gruppe B" Concept (below left), which was unveiled at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show (I actually had a picture of it on my bedroom wall). With the exception of a temporary gold BBS rear wheels, the pearly white car appeared nearly unchanged more than three decades later. It is interesting to note that the show car is missing the tell-tale air vents in front of the front wheels, and the engine intake scoops just aft of the doors, which later distinguished the low-volume production supercar from its standard siblings.

High upon a rack, below the exposed driveline of a 911 Turbo, was the bodytub of a
Volkswagen "Schwimmwagen" (below right). The World War Two amphibious vehicle was based on the civilian Volkswagen Beetle. In fighting trim, the four-wheel-drive vehicle was powered by a four-cylinder engine rated at just 25 horsepower. While it had a retractable screw propeller for water use, the front wheels doubled as rudders, which must have made turning an interesting maneuver. Of the 15,584 examples made during the War, just 1,308 were made by Porsche.

This heavily disguised and completely badge-free prototype gave no hint of what was shoehorned in its tail.
​I found an early predecessor to the Panamera under a rack. The silver four-door 989 Concept was designed in 1988. Face-to-face, the vehicle looked like an awkwardly stretched 996 model (even though that particular model was still a decade in the future). While it appeared to hide an engine under the long rear decklid, the concept was fitted with a front-mounted, water-cooled V8 that was likely borrowed from the 928 of the same era. Slumping sales of the 928 killed the 989 program in the early 1990s, and we had to wait more than another decade for the arrival of Porsche's first four-door sedan.

My favorite hidden jewel was a
matte black hybrid mix of a 993 and a 959, which I spied hidden under a tarp (below left). At first I figured it was some sort of 959 mule, which really sparked my curiosity, but its front clip was too new. I asked a curator who smiled as he opened its rear decklid to reveal a 3.6-liter V8 sourced from a first-generation Audi V8 (below right). Even in the face of those countless rumors of an upcoming V8-powered 911 model that started decades ago, this heavily disguised and completely badge-free prototype gave no hint of what was shoehorned in its tail. (There were two more of the "these-are-not-what-they-appear" vehicles in storage, but we'll post those up on Facebook over the next few days to see if anyone can guess what they really are.)

Even after a couple of hours roaming, I left feeling as if I had only scratched the surface of what's inside the building. I'd estimate that maybe half of the collection is exposed, but there are countless gems hidden beneath each of the cloth car covers that I never had the opportunity to peel back and even view. I need another tour - lasting about a week, next time.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2015 Porsche Macan Turbo

2014 Porsche Macan
2015 Porsche Macan: Deep Dive2015 Porsche Macan: Deep Dive2015 Porsche Macan: Deep Dive2015 Porsche Macan: Deep Dive2015 Porsche Macan: Deep Dive2015 Porsche Macan: Deep Dive2015 Porsche Macan: Deep Dive

Vital Stats

Twin-turbo 3.6L V6
400 HP / 406 LB-FT
7-Speed DCT
0-60 Time:
4.4 Seconds
Top Speed:
165 MPH
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,422 LBS
Base Price:

The misinformation first started back in May of 2007 – more than six years ago – when word came that Porsche was developing a compact utility vehicle to fill out its product line. Rumors swirled that the German automaker's future "Roxster" would be based on the then-upcoming Audi Q5. By September of 2010, the name had changed to "Cajun," but the vehicle was still expected to be "based heavily on the Audi Q5," said reports in the months that followed. One year later, the first test mules were spotted, the mechanics hidden beneath barely disguised Audi sheetmetal, which did nothing to give the upcoming model its own identity. And even afterPorsche announced "Macan" as the vehicle's production name in early 2012, articles stated that it would "arrive on the same chassis as the Audi Q5, though with suspension, brake and engine tweaks suitable to the Porsche range."

It's no wonder that most still consider the all-new Porsche Macan nothing more than a heavily massaged Q5.

To help lift some of the mystery surrounding its latest release, Porsche hosted us in Germany for an in-depth look at its new crossover (while Europeans call it a "sport utility," its car platform allows us to call it a proper CUV). The technology workshop offered us insight to the design and mechanical execution, and it concluded with a short test ride. The trip was both enlightening and educational – and it left us with a whole new perspective on the Macan.

2014 Porsche Macan

The Porsche Macan is built on the Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP) proliferating throughout theVolkswagen Group. It's an architecture currently shared with the Audi A5A6A7A8 and Q5. Its performance-oriented architecture allows a longitudinally mounted engine with a differential in front of the clutch for better weight distribution. While Volkswagen offers its scalable MLP in many lengths, the Macan rides on a 110.5-inch wheelbase, which is identical to the Audi Q5.

The Macan S is about 300 pounds lighter than the SQ5.
Physically speaking, the Macan is nearly two inches shorter in height (63.9 vs. 65.2) but nearly two inches longer in length (184.3 vs. 182.6) than the Audi. Side-by-side, the Porsche has broader shoulders to cover its nearly two-inch-wider track (65.2 vs. 63.7) and in terms of overall mass, the Macan S is about 300 pounds lighter than the SQ5 (4,112 vs. 4,409).

As expected from platform-sharing cousins, the pan (floor stamping) and firewall are common. The basic suspension architecture, power steering unit and rear brakes are also shared, but each has been modified by Porsche for its new role. Aside from those major components, and the standard hidden-from-view electrical and mechanical subsystems shared with other vehicles in the VW Group, nearly everything else on the Macan is unique.

2014 Porsche Macan2014 Porsche Macan

The exterior paints a clear picture of Porsche's crossover design language – it looks like a mini Cayennefrom most angles. The shape is relatively sleek (0.36 coefficient of drag), with side mirrors mounted on the door panels and an integrated rear lip spoiler at the top of the liftgate. Unique side accents – available in carbon fiber or painted – are found low on each door and visually shorten the Macan's overall height. The most fascinating part of the model's styling is its unique front clamshell hood. Its aluminum skin is actually comprised of two panels, sandwiched together, with air passages between them to comprise an integrated duct system that feeds air into the intakes on each side of the engine. The approach is innovative and effective, plus it provides an extra cushion of safety for pedestrians, should they ever meet the Macan head-on. We'd toss a few more points to the Porsche engineers for designing the world's easiest and cleanest one-hand hood release, too.

Porsche chose to raise the Macan's performance envelope by using its lightning-quick, seven-speed PDK.
Despite unconfirmed rumors of a VW-sourced diesel on the horizon, Porsche will initially offer the Macan with two of its own engines, both fitted with turbochargers. The Macan S arrives with a twin-turbocharged, 90-degree, 3.0-liter V6 rated at 340 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque (not to be confused with the supercharged, 60-degree, 3.0-liter V6 in the Audi SQ5). The Macan Turbo gets a twin-turbocharged, 90-degree, 3.6-liter V6 rated at 400 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The direct-injected, all-aluminum engines (467 and 470 pounds, respectively) have integrated dry oil sumps, – a lubrication method that normally appears on high-end sports cars – to provide better oiling during spirited driving. As an added benefit, they allow the engines to be mounted lower in the chassis to improve their center of gravity.

While most in this segment are using eight-speed automatic transmissions, Porsche has chosen to raise the Macan's performance envelope by using its lightning-quick, seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automated gearbox – a first in a utility vehicle. The electronically controlled transmission provides buttery smooth – or rapid-fire – shifting based on its selected drive mode (Sport, Sport Plus and Off-Road). Models with the optional Sport Chrono package will offer launch control.

2014 Porsche Macan2014 Porsche Macan

The performance-based PDK transmission, redesigned to accommodate an integrated front-axle differential, is an integral part of the standard Porsche Traction Management (PTM) permanent all-wheel-drive system. While many systems split their power front-to-rear in preset stages or wait for available traction to dictate their operation, the Macan's AWD provides infinitely variable, on-demand torque distribution between the front and rear axles with a response time of under 100 milliseconds. Even though there is no set split ratio between the axles, Porsche engineers explained that the system has been designed to be heavily rear-biased. After another round of interrogation, and being assured that the all-wheel-drive system is not common with the Cayenne, Porsche revealed that the setup on the Macan is shared with the 911 Carrera 4 – another indication that the automaker has serious performance aspirations for its new compact utility.

The AWD setup on the Macan is shared with the 911 Carrera 4.
Racing the stopwatch, Porsche conservatively says the standard Macan S will accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds (5.0 seconds with the Sport Chrono package) and not run out of steam until it hits an aerodynamic wall at 156 mph. The more powerful Macan Turbo will do the same sprint in 4.6 seconds (4.4 with the Sport Chrono package) and top out at 165 mph. Those figures are segment-leading, all around, and most likely conservative.

Even though the independent suspension is similar in architecture to the Q5, with an aluminum five-arm wishbone setup in the front and a self-tracking trapezoidal link in the rear, Porsche offers its Active Suspension Management (PASM) with air suspension at all four corners. While the pneumatic dampers improve the highway ride and provide chassis load-leveling, they also allow the driver to raise the vehicle for improved off-road prowess, or to drop the chassis to ease loading. From minimum to maximum, there is a 3.5-inch variance in chassis height. Lastly, to improve grip, the rear axle has an electronically controlled differential lock. Optional Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV Plus) is said to improve turn-in and stability when the road gets twisty. No other vehicle in the segment offers an air suspension or torque vectoring.

2014 Porsche Macan2014 Porsche Macan2014 Porsche Macan2014 Porsche Macan

The front brakes are six-piston fixed calipers, sourced from Brembo, clamping down on ventilated iron rotors. The rear calipers are single-piston sliding units, a configuration we cannot recall Porsche using in decades, over a ventilated iron rotor. When asked, an engineer explained, matter-of-factly, that the rear braking system, along with its integrated electric parking brake, was carried over directly from the Audi Q5. Even when upgraded with the optional Porsche Carbon-Ceramic Brakes (PCCB), another first in this segment, there is a single-piston sliding caliper over a ventilated ceramic rotor.

This is the first time that a Porsche SUV has been equipped with an electro-mechanical steering system.
Porsche has been color-coding its brake calipers for years, and the Macan is no exception. Standard models (including the Diesel that is not yet offered in the States) have black calipers, while Macan S models have silver calipers. Red calipers designate the Macan Turbo models, while the yellow calipers are reserved for the PCCB setup.

As mentioned, the electro-mechanical power steering architecture is shared with the Q5, but it has a quicker ratio (14.3:1 compared to 15.9:1) and it has been designed to have a heavier feel from behind the new 918-inspired multi-function steering wheel. This is the first time that a Porsche SUV has been equipped with an electro-mechanical steering system, but the engineers explained that it is optimal for this application, as its self-contained design (the motor is contained within the rack) provides excellent packaging and its active steering capabilities integrate well with the optional Lane Departure System (LDS).

2014 Porsche Macan2014 Porsche Macan

The Macan rides on staggered-size rubber front and rear (all Cayenne applications are "square" setups, meaning all tires are the same size). This configuration, common on the automaker's sports cars, was chosen as it increases traction and enhances stability with the vehicle's unique all-wheel-drive system – remember, the latter was designed for tail-heavy 911s.

There was noticeable body roll, but the AWD system clung to the pavement with tenacity.
The Macan S is fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels as standard (235/60R18 front and 255/55R18 rear), while the Macan Turbo wears 19-inch alloys 235/55R19 front and 255/50R19 rear). Porsche offers a half-dozen other wheel/tire combos, ranging in size from 18 to 21 inches.

The automaker offered us a few short rides in the Macan at a small training center in Grevenbroich, Germany, just southwest of Dusseldorf. We were not allowed behind the wheel – our first drive will happen in a couple of months – but this experience did give us the opportunity to observe the Macan's driving dynamics from the passenger seat.

First up were some high-speed laps around an undulating half-mile road course that was chock full of off-camber turns, hills and dips. It didn't help that the pavement was wet in certain spots. The factory driver pushed the Macan S hard in each of the driving modes, demonstrating how PDK and PTM operated under the different programs. As predicted, the compact CUV lapped with little drama – of course, we didn't expect it to go sailing into the woods. There was noticeable body roll, but the AWD system clung to the pavement with tenacity (the vehicle was fitted with all-season tires) exhibiting little understeer in the process. The most impressive part of our track venture was feeling the Macan soar over a sharp, unsettlingly tall rise in a 65-mph corner, yet completely maintain its composure and quickly recover as the suspension compressed on the other side. Utility vehicles, with their attendant tall centers of gravity, don't typically act like that.

2014 Porsche Macan

It is a sports car trapped in the shell of a crossover.

Porsche admits that the Cayenne is more capable off-road (while simultaneously admitting the Macan is the better track star), but we still went for a ride on a semi-challenging dirt- and rock-strewn loop at the venue. Ride height and suspension articulation weren't an issue, but a very steep climb on a loose surface had PTM clawing ardently for traction. The Macan made it up all of the hills and across the 45-degree slope with dignity (Porsche also showed us a video of it "dune surfing" in the Middle East), but there are better vehicles for the job – most with locking differentials. If we had a Macan in our garage, we'd choose something else for a Moab or Rubicon trip.

Those two quick test rides revealed the true character of the Macan – it is a sports car trapped in the shell of a crossover.

While all of the competition (fingered as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class) remain focused on building smaller versions of their fullsize utilities, Porsche appears to have taken a different approach. The Cayenne remains its family hauler, with towing and off-road capability, while the Macan is a tall, utility-minded sports car that just happens to look like its larger sibling.

After focusing on the engineering, it is hard not to be impressed with the amount of resources Porsche has invested to ensure that its small crossover is unique and very exciting to drive. While we will hold off final judgment on the all-new model until after we get a nice stint behind the wheel, a full day with the automaker's new baby made one thing perfectly clear – dismissing the Macan as a rebadged Q5 reveals nothing but naivety.