Porsche's 911 boss talks turbos, EVs and the inevitable hybrid Carrera

The new Porsche 911 features turbochargers across the range. What's next? We sit down with Dr. August Achleitner, Product Director of the 911, on what's arrived and what's to come.

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Dr. August Achleitner, Porsche's 911 boss. Porsche

FRANKFURT -- The Porsche 911 is one of the most iconic car models of the last century. As I've recently experienced, a change over to turbocharging hasn't ended that legacy. The new 911 still sounds and feels like it should, only with more urgency, a more complex exhaust note and all the luscious looks we've come to expect from the series. It has lower emissions and better economy, too.

Leading the charge forward is Dr. August Achleitner, Product Director at Porsche. He's basically the guy who holds the keys to the 911, the one who shapes its destiny. He says that decision, to go with a turbocharged engine, was not an easy one: "Everyone at Porsche loves normal aspirated engines, with all the advantages of direct response to what the driver's doing, and there's perfect sound in the interior."

Porsche addressed the first issue with some turbocharging trickery to keep the twin compressors spooled up, maximizing throttle response. It's the second issue, however, that really kept Achleitner up at night.

"Even more important is the interior sound. Nobody buys a 911 because they need a transportation vehicle, a car from A to B. People want a sports car that is emotional and gives a perfect sound and feedback."

The solution is a pair of tubes (fancifully dubbed "sound symposers" by Porsche) that channels some of the new 3-liter engine's song directly into the cabin. In my limited time in the car, I'd say the solution is quite effective. The car sounds great. Different, but great.

The change to turbocharging was done for practical reasons: emissions and economy mostly. In that regard it was a success, with the 911 gaining power and fuel economy in one shot. However, it's safe to assume that this is just the beginning. Future demands will be even higher, requiring even more added tech.

In other words, yes, a hybrid 911 is almost certainly coming -- but not for a few years, at least.

"I can say that it will not take place in this generation. To integrate such a technology you would have to modify the platform, and this would not make sense."

Achleitner says that the current 911, a revision of the 991 platform, doesn't have enough room in the chassis for effective packaging of all the batteries that would be required. After spending a fair bit of time studying a full-sized cut-away model of the car, I can confidently say he has a point. However, it certainly seems like that design consideration will be a factor for the next generation of 911, which is likely four or five years away at this point.

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And an all-electric 911? Achleitner of course wouldn't confirm anything, but he did point to the Mission E concept from this year's show, saying that it's much easier to design a car like that, one powered only by batteries, than it is to develop a hybrid.

Overall Achleitner is proud of the advancements Porsche has brought to the new car, including a hugely improved infotainment system that, for the first time, offers Apple CarPlay. "The use of iPhones is dominant within the community of Porsche owners," he says.

And what about those who worry that a pair of turbochargers have destroyed the 911's character? "Have a test drive." That, I think, is an offer most anyone would gladly accept.