When people think of Porsche, the first thing that comes to mind is often the silhouette of the 911 – and the flat engine. These engines are very close to every Porsche devotee’s heart. But what is so special about this particular design principle for an internal combustion engine?
The air-cooled flat engine has a special place in the hearts of its fans. But emotions only tell half the story. As well as revving its way into the affections of many, the flat engine has many interesting features that give it the edge from a design point of view. Its history dates back 122 years to 1896, when Carl Benz invented the flat engine. He called it the contra engine because its two cylinders worked in opposition to one another. This first boxer engine was intended to have a displacement of over 1.7 litres and deliver 5 hp. Its underlying design principle – both then and now – is that the cylinders should lie flat and slightly offset to each other, on opposite sides of the crankshaft.
The Porsche family tree of flat engines can be traced back to the VW Beetle. Its 1.1-litre, four-cylinder engine delivering 26 kW (35 hp) was installed by Ferry Porsche in his 356-001. Further engines followed, all of which were air-cooled until the 911 Type 993. In the top-of-the-range 911 Carrera RS, the 3.8-litre air-cooled flat engine achieved 221 kW (300 hp) without turbocharging. Two turbochargers boosted performance to 331 kW (450 hp).
The ideal choice for sports cars
The air-cooled flat engine is lightweight and flat, making it the ideal choice for sports cars, and particularly low designs are possible as the cylinders are lying flat. This lowers the centre of gravity, allowing for a sportier and more dynamic style of driving – and not just when cornering. If the flat engine is installed at the rear as in Porsche vehicles, traction is improved because the weight of the engine rests on the drive axle. Until all-wheel drive vehicles conquered the roads, Beetle and Porsche drivers agreed that a car with a rear-mounted engine was by far the best choice for winter conditions. The opposite is also true: When braking, the weight of a rear-mounted engine allows more braking force to be transferred to the rear wheels.
The flat engine – and especially its six-cylinder variant – is particularly smooth-running, with no free moments or free forces. The crank mechanism is ideally balanced, allowing short-stroke sports engines to cruise along at high speeds without excessive strain.
The 3.8-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo boxer engine of the 911 GT2 RS
One of the most characteristic features of the Porsche six-cylinder flat engines is the drop in fuel consumption as engine power increases. The concept underlying the flat engine involves a consistent lightweight construction, a low centre of gravity, outstanding revving ability and a high specific output thanks to advantageous charge cycles. All 911 engines need to be sporty as well as suitable for everyday use.
As a basic rule, it takes more effort to manufacture a flat engine than an in-line engine because a greater number of parts are needed. The flat engine needs two banks of cylinders with a valve train, plus cooling or injection. The flat engine is a particularly good candidate for air cooling because the individual cylinders are located far apart from each other and can therefore benefit from a direct flow of cooling air. The fact that the 911 flat engines have been water-cooled since the 996 model series is primarily a result of the four-valve technology. Four valves are a prerequisite for cutting fuel consumption and exhaust emissions while also boosting performance.
But this is only a point of interest for fans of water-cooled flat engines. No club with this name exists yet, but it surely will one day, when these engines stop being the latest technology and become part of history.
Real-time remote assistance improves efficiency and can reduce service resolution time by up to 40 percent. Use of augmented reality in technical services for an even better service quality and customer experience
Atlanta, Georgia. Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA) today announced the introduction of "Tech Live Look," an Augmented Reality (AR) technology designed to improve technical services at Porsche dealerships in the United States.
"Tech Live Look" uses the AiR Enterprise™ software platform from Atheer, Inc., a leading provider of AR solutions, in conjunction with lightweight smart glasses. These high-tech spectacles feature the latest in projection technology and come equipped with a high-resolution, auto focus camera that shows even fine details such as threading on screws. The glasses include a powerful LED to illuminate dark spaces in the engine compartment or under the car.
How does this technology work? When a service technician at a dealership in Los Angeles dons this specialized eyewear and connects through the software with the Atlanta-based Porsche technical support team 2,200 miles away, it allows the support team to see exactly what he is seeing, in real time. This "see what I see" video-conferencing capability with instant access to remote experts allows both parties to quickly identify and resolve technical issues. It can also help decrease service resolution time by up to 40 percent, based on the findings of a pilot program undertaken in July 2017 at eight Porsche dealerships in California, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, and Washington, along with one in Canada.
"Tech Live Look" can do much more than just provide real-time video capability. It allows the technical support team to take screen shots or send technical bulletins and instructions onto the projection surface of the glasses while the service technician is working on the vehicle. This type of information exchange is far more efficient than sending emails and photos or explaining complex technical issues over the phone.
"Our main goal is to provide a better overall experience for our customers. Tech Live Look allows us to be more efficient and helps get vehicles back in the hands of our customers faster, all while still delivering exceptional service quality" explained Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of PCNA.
"Tech Live Look" will officially launch in dealerships in North America in 2018.
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Atlanta, Georgia. The 911 GT3 with Touring Package will be unveiled at the 67th International Motor Show (IAA), which will take place from September 12 to 24, 2017, in Frankfurt. Instead of the fixed rear wing, when equipped with the optional Touring Package, the GT3 will have an adaptive rear spoiler similar to that of the 911 Carrera models. Beneath its understated exterior is pure motorsport-derived technology: The four-liter naturally aspirated flat-six engine develops 500 horsepower and generates 339 lb.-ft. of torque. The 911 GT3 with Touring Package sprints from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds and reaches a top track speed of 196 miles per hour. The Touring Package will be available exclusively in combination with the six-speed manual transmission.
The name "Touring Package" harkens back to a variant of the 911 Carrera RS from 1973. The very pure 911 design and classic interior features were key elements of this model. The new 911 GT3 when equipped with the Touring Package follows the same concept, and retains the two-seater arrangement of the 911 GT3. Apart from certain Alcantara®-covered interior fittings, almost all 911 GT3 options are also available in combination with the Touring Package. This includes all available exterior colors, wheel choices, the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system, the front axle lift system, LED headlights, three seat options, and the Sport Chrono Package.
A high-performance sports car in every aspect
With the exception of the rear spoiler treatment, the body of the GT3 with the optional Touring Package remains unchanged. Like the other GT3 models, it is based upon the body of the 911 Carrera 4 model, which is 1.7 inches (44 millimeters) wider at the rear wheel arches. It sits about one inch (25 millimeters) lower than the 911 Carrera S. It also has large air intakes in the specially designed front fascia, as well as the air intake that is typical of the 911 GT3 model, located in front of the luggage compartment lid. In contrast to the other GT3 models, the front turn signal lenses and the taillights are not tinted. The 911 GT3 with Touring Package sits on forged center lock alloy wheels. At the front, 245/35 ZR 20 tires are fitted on nine-inch wide wheels, while at the rear 305/30 ZR 20 tires are mounted on twelve-inch wide wheels.
Sporty aerodynamics: Rear spoiler with additional gurney flap
The subtle differences in the Porsche GT3 model when it is equipped with the Touring Package are primarily visible at the rear. The automatically extending rear spoiler from the 911 Carrera models is equipped with an aerodynamic lip ("Gurney Flap") finished in body color. The specially designed rear decklid grille bears a new "GT3 touring" logo. Other distinguishing features include side window surrounds, Sport Exhaust tailpipes, and headlight washer system covers which are finished in silver, as well as the Porsche logo at the rear. With the further available "Touring Package - Exterior in Black" option, these elements are finished in black, as on other 911 GT3 models. In this case, the front turn signal lenses and the taillights are tinted.
The interior creates the feel of a classic sports car with a manual transmission. In line with the character of a GT car, leather is prevalent rather than Alcantara®, which is used in other GT3 models. The steering wheel rim with twelve o'clock marker, shift lever, door panel armrests, center console storage compartment lid and interior door handles are upholstered in smooth-finish leather. The seat centers are made of black fabric. The headrests feature embossed Porsche crests and all seams in the partial leather interior are sewn in black thread. The finishing touch to the interior is black brushed aluminum trim.
Powerful six-cylinder naturally aspirated engine from Porsche's motorsport heritage
The powertrain and chassis are identical on all 911 GT3 vehicles with manual transmission, including models equipped with the Touring Package. The naturally aspirated four-liter flat-six engine is taken from the 911 RSR and 911 GT3 Cup race cars. It is the most powerful naturally aspirated flat-six direct-injection engine that Porsche has ever developed for a street-legal car. The engine is characterized by its high-revving nature. The crankshaft spins at up to 9,000 revolutions per minute, which is truly extraordinary, even for a sports car engine.
The gear ratios of the six gears are precisely tuned to the power delivery and torque curve of the engine and offer particularly sporty shifting characteristics. An automatic rev-match feature delivers an exciting sound on downshifts. This function is activated via the "Sport" button on the center console, which enables a faster synchronization of the gears. The GT Sport manual transmission transfers the power to a mechanical rear differential lock with brake-based torque vectoring (PTV).
Fast in the corners, secure on the straights: Rigid chassis with rear-axle steering
The chassis of the 911 GT3 is a testament to Porsche's experience in motorsport. In addition to the basic layout, the chassis also boasts superior handling characteristics, thanks predominantly to the standard active rear-axle steering. Depending upon the vehicle's speed, it steers either in the opposite or the same direction as the front wheels, thereby improving the vehicle's agility or stability. The size of the tires on both axles promote strong braking, sharp turn-in, and excellent traction.
Porsche Track Precision app as standard
In addition to Porsche Communication Management (PCM), including an online navigation module with real-time traffic information, every 911 GT3 model includes as standard equipment the Connect Plus module and the Porsche Track Precision app. This app enables the driver to display, record, and analyze detailed driving data on their smartphone.
Pricing and availability
The Touring Package option is now available to order and is expected to reach U.S. dealers in early 2018. Like other 911 GT3 models, the version with Touring Package costs $143,600, excluding any available options and the $1,050 delivery, processing, and handling fee.
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Images and photos copyright Porsche Cars North America, Inc., or Porsche Roslyn
Images and photos copyright Porsche Cars North America, Inc., or Porsche Roslyn