New, upgraded Porsche 911 to be unveiled

It’s longer, lower, wider, lighter, more aerodynamic, more powerful and more efficient than the current model, but you won’t mistake the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera for any other car when it is introduced next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

As the German icon enters its 49th year and its seventh generation, it will retain its rear engine configuration and a silhouette similar to the original 911 that first hit the road back in 1963. But that is pretty much where the similarities end.

Little has been left untouched in the the comprehensive upgrade and Porsche has even introduced a touch of “green” to the new coupe’s portfolio.

Two models, no doubt with numerous variations to come over the years, will be shown.

The Porsche 911 Carrera coupe, with a base price of $82,100, gets a new 350-horsepower, 3.4-liter, 6-cylinder boxer engine to replace the current 345-horsepower, 3.6-liter powerplant.

The 911 is marginally quicker to 60 mph than its predecessor, with the sprint taking a few ticks over four seconds,. Track-tested top speed is 179 mph.

The Porsche 911 Carrera S, with a base price of $96,400, retains the 3.8-liter, 6-cylinder boxer engine, but power is increased to 400 from 385. Its 0-60 mph times hover around four seconds. Top speed is 188 mph.

Both cars will come with a choice of the world’s first seven-speed manual transmission or  a twin-clutch auto/manual transmission.

With a tip of the hat to the gas-electric hybrids, the new Porsche features fuel savers such as a start/stop function which turns off and automatically restarts the engine at traffic signals,  electro-mechanical steering, and battery regeneration when coasting and braking.

Models with the auto/manual transmission will be able to “sail” on electrical power alone for short periods of time.

Fuel efficiency will increase approximately 15 percent from the 18-27 mpg rating of the 2011 911 and the 18-26 mpg range of the 911 S..

Although it did not offer precise details of all the changes, Porsche said the new car will feature a wheelbase 3.9 inches longer than the 2011 model, a wider track, a lower roof, and a weight reduction of 100 pounds, thanks to aluminum-steel composite construction. This also gives the 2012 model greater structural rigidity.

A number of upgrades and revisions, including the longer wheelbase, wider track, electro-mechanical steering and a new rear axle, contribute to improved driving dynamics.

Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, an active roll stabilization system which helps to reduce body roll when cornering and helps keep tires positioned for maximum traction, will be available on the 911 S for the first time.

Inside, the new Porsche has been upgraded to look more like the upscale Porsche   GT. The five-gauge instrument cluster is retained but a rising center console and high-mounted shift lever are located closer to the steering wheel.

The new 911s will begin arriving in the United States in February.