Sports Cars

The Porsche 911 will always have a steering wheel

Porsche talks electricity and autonomy while simultaneously teasing the next-gen 911.

Porsche

The refreshed Porsche 911 GT3 RS hasn't even been available for a week, but already it's time to take a peek at the future of Porsche's half-century-old sports car.

The Cayenne, Macan and other cars might keep the lights on, but the 911 is and always will be the automaker's centerpiece. Porsche just published an interview with August Achleitner, the head of the 911 product line, and he discusses current trends and how the 911 will adapt to them in the future.

It's good to know that the 911 will always have a steering wheel. Now, I just need to figure out what bank to rob so I can afford one.

Porsche

The interview also came with camouflaged shots of the next-generation 911 (the 992, if you're a P-car geek), although you won't see anything revelatory in the shots -- the general shape remains the same, and there are no shots of the rear end, which means you can expect most of the changes to take place out back.

When it comes to hopping on new trends like connectivity or electrification, Achleitner says patience is key. "We don't necessarily have to be the first in this regard with the 911," Achleitner said. "What's crucial, rather, is that every innovation be offered in a typical Porsche manifestation." In short, if it doesn't improve the experience for the driver, it's probably not ready for the 911 yet.

When it comes to electricity, "Two years ago I'd have said no way," Achleitner admits. "Today I wouldn't categorically rule it out." After driving the all-electric Mission E, his mind shifted to believing that, when the technology is capable of enhancing the experience, it won't be as obscene as some might think. It won't be coming on the 992 -- the Mission E will carry the banner for an electrified Porsche to start -- but it'd be naïve to think it'll never happen.

The same goes for autonomy and semi-autonomous systems. "[These systems] are convenient and useful things," Achleitner said. "But the customer has to make the choice to use them and, above all, be able to switch them off when they're not desired." He says that the 911 will always have a steering wheel, and if autonomy gains traction sooner than expected, to assume that the 911 will be one of the final holdouts.

The idea of change doesn't sit well with many, especially Porsche fanatics. But even Achleitner has realized that owners and fans alike eventually grow used to these adjustments. Air-cooled engines are gone, naturally aspirated base engines are gone, but the world keeps turning and the 911 remains one of the best driver's cars on the road. Change is coming, and it's not going to hurt as badly as some expect.