Porsche calls an end to the horsepower arms race

Published: 07 May 2015

► Porsche GT boss on future development
► Next GT3 will prioritise light weight over power
► Expect manual gearbox options alongside PDK

Power corrupts, as the saying goes. How much bhp is too much? When Andreas Preuninger, the head of Porsche’s GT division chatted to CAR’s Ben Barry recently, he hinted that the next generation of Porsche’s hairiest models would make a point by leaving the horsepower arms race behind.

Speaking about the new 911 GT3 RS, and its future successors, he said: ‘I’m not a believer in this horsepower monster, up, up, up, more, more, more. For my personal tastes, around 500bhp is enough, because 700-800bhp calls for bigger brakes, sturdier suspension, it gets heavier and heavier logically.’

He suggests future GT and RS models would prioritise weight-saving over chasing horsepower.

‘I think it’s not my engineering target to get 50bhp more every generation, I’d rather turn it around and make the car lighter again, a specific horsepower per kilo. I think that makes more sense.’

Does that mean the next 911 GT3 RS could actually have less horsepower than the current one?

Unlikely. Preuninger acknowledges that ‘you wouldn’t turn back.’ But equally, it won’t see a big jump in power purely for power’s sake.

‘If I were a customer and the next RS had 20bhp less, I would say, “hey, come on, what’s that?”’ he says. ‘But we have to be more concentrated on the overall package, not just horsepower. This is not a dragster, it’s a track car.

‘There are plenty of dragsters on the market, big V8, twin turbo – boom, off you go. But [they] don’t turn.’

He has strong views on the ongoing Nurburgring Nordschleife production car lap time crusades, too. He suggests that rather than designing a car capable of a headline-grabbing time in the hands of a professional driver, making the chassis confidence-inspiring and fun to drive for mere mortals should be more important.

‘For me it’s important that everyone has fun with the car, can drive fast for his own capabilities, and get better with it. Maybe we could make a 7min 15sec car – it would be relatively easy – but then it would be a dog on the street. It’s about compromise.’

And will the next 911 GT3 go turbocharged?

Doesn’t look like it. While the 911 family as a whole will turn to turbo power, Preuninger reiterated that GT3 versions would stick with natural aspiration.

‘I like atmospherical engines, because they are more linear, better driveability, lighter, more emotional,’ he says.

Good news for manual gearbox fans, too. While the current 911 GT3 and GT3 RS are dual-clutch PDK paddleshift only, Preuninger suggests future models will offer a conventional three-pedal option.

‘This endless discussion about PDK and manual, there’s no wrong, no right. Just differences in mission criteria. In the future, we don’t want to discuss what is better, we just want to offer both, so everybody should make up his mind and choose.’

‘We put a manual in the Cayman GT4 for good reason, to show the people we listened. For people to blip the throttle, it’s satisfying. Why not give the people something to play with if they’re longing for that?’

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator