With the new 911, we see two distinct reads: the macro and the micro.
The macro read – when you stand back and drink the car in and understand the core changes to its dimensions and proportions – is largely positive. The 911 has always been a compact car and this new generation introduces quite a big size jump – both in length and width. That might be a big problem for purists, but in design terms it’s not a bad thing. The extra wheelbase length really improves the way the 911 sits when viewed from most angles. The arc of the roof and the flow into the rear deck has extra elegance thanks to this added length. There’s some clever design work to disguise the greater dimensions too, the axel-to-dash has been slightly increased, while the centre point of the base of the screen has been pulled further forward. What you read, however is the (still) relatively upright pillars, and the short distance along the fender tops to the lamps, making the front overhang appear much shorter than it is.
The 911′s core design is never going to overly excite, so befitting of its precision machine status, one expects the details to come up to scratch. However, zoom in and some things go awry. The much more taught, tensioned bone line which flows back off the cant rail becomes a scallop which turns up into the haunches, enveloping the rear lights. It’s thematically well done and one of the more obviously ‘new’ parts of this 911. Yet because there’s a change in angle at the intersection of deck and bumper as you view the car in profile, when viewed from the rear, this line kinks awkwardly as it sweeps around the lamp. All of the 911s on the stand in Frankfurt sit on 20 inch wheels, yet there’s still a rather large gap in the arches – we suspect it’s going to look pretty odd on a standard set of 19 inch wheels. And the much-discussed front appertures, with the running lights sitting offset above them, are messy affairs. The surface which runs below the aperture is worthy of note too, narrowing to a very thin, weak-looking surface, which is the sort of thing you’d don’t expect to find on a premium German car.
Luckily, step in side and there’s a marked upsweep, with the hand of VW group’s perceived quality specialists clear to see. The (now real) aluminium fillet on the upper door replaces the cheap, painted plastic affairs of before. The wrap of the lower door architecture- which forms both the door pull and the forward edge of the door bin, is thematically new and an appropriate design flourish. Meanwhile on the main IP the switchgear is now much improved, and there are further impressive details such as the extruded airvent surrounds at the outer edges of the dash.
Of course, most potential buyers won’t notice or quibble with the odd design detail in the way we will, and overall it’s an impressive step forward for the 911. It’s just that, as Mies Van der Rohe once famously said, ‘god is in the details’. So given that the 911 is revered as a god among cars, we’d just expected its makers to have paid a little more attention to the finer elements of its exterior design.
Posted by Joe Simpson