Porsche 911 taking baby steps toward mid-engine platform


Resident Journalist


Resident Journalist
Jun 7, 2016
Kuala Lumpur
Porsche engineers are some of the most stubborn in the industry. Despite knowing the fact that having a bulk of mass hanging behind the 911’s rear axle is bound to reduce the car’s advantage especially through corners, they keep improving, adding gizmos and bits to compensate with its overall dynamics.

They have been doing it for over 50 years, and that's what makes the 911 a 911, right?

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However, in a recent test at Sebring Raceway, Porsche was caught losing its faith(?) so to speak; putting the engine of 911 RSR, Porsche’s GTE and GTLM-class racer ahead of its rear axle. The outgoing 911 RSR is as rear-engined as any production 911, but this new version hints a few visual clues to question if its engine location still follow the 911’s original principle.

The clues are:

  • Lack of rear window – it is now replaced with a panel full of vents and air intakes. That’s usually the location you want the air to be sucked into the engine if it’s located right behind the driver
  • Lack of rear windscreen – Porsche 911 usually wear transparent rear windscreen (glass on ‘normal’ 911s, polycarbonate plastics on track-oriented 911s), however this 911 RSR test unit gets plastic panel complete with air vents, probably for engine cooling and/or heat dissipation
  • Large rear diffuser – the test unit sports deep and wide rear diffuser. If the engine is still behind its rear axle, the area will be occupied with tightly-packaged 6 horizontal cylinders and its exhaust manifolds

The 3<sup>rd</sup> clue aforementioned might explain the reason behind the relocation of the 911 RSR engine. Since the new regulations allow for a larger rear diffuser, it shows that it is more of an aero-cautious ‘solution’ than a weight distribution one.

Porsche 911 die-hard fans can keep cool now as the decision is mainly for GT racing. If the production version 911 is reconfigured to a midship, it could then clash with the Boxster/Cayman’s livelihood.

I believe Porsche engineers will happily stay true to their roots by retaining the rear-engined recipe, but let's see how the upcoming mid-ship 911 RSR fare in the next season.
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