The new Porsche 911 will cost almost 10 per cent more than its predecessor, thanks largely to the Federal Government’s luxury car tax hike. RICHARD BLACKBURN reports.
Porsche is gambling that new technology and more standard equipment will entice fans of its iconic 911 coupe to upgrade to a new model despite price increases of between $18,000 and $25,000.
The German luxury car maker released pricing for its new 911 range yesterday and in the process took a swipe at the Federal Government’s luxury car tax increase, which looks likely to pass through the Senate this week.
The company’s Australian boss Michael Winkler says a large chunk of the 911 range’s price increase, which lifts the cost of the base model 911 Carrera coupe from $201,000 to $219,300, is due to the planned hike in the luxury car tax from 25 per cent to 33 per cent.
He says slightly less than half the 911 price rise is due to the tax, while the rest of the increase is compensated for by extra equipment.
Porsche is looking to maintain 911 sales at their current rates with the new model, although Winkler admits that will be an uphill battle if the luxury car tax goes ahead.
“I think there will be a 15 per cent drop in sales if the tax increase goes through,” he says.
He describes the tax as “a discriminatory import tax on European manufacturers”.
He is more bullish about the economy, though and doesn’t believe that the current economic doom and gloom will affect Porsche sales.
“The current level of economic growth is two-and-a-half per cent, which is very far from a recession,” he says.
Nonetheless, he admits the new 911 model will go on sale with a three-month order bank, while the previous model had six months’ worth of orders when it was released.
Winkler also believes that more Porsche 911 buyers will be paying more for their car, with drivers shifting from the cheaper manual model into the new 911’s PDK double-clutch, automatic transmission – a $7000 option.
In the past, 911 buyers were split 50-50 into manual and automatic cars, but Winkler believes the new PDK transmission, which Porsche claims can change gears quicker than any driver can shift a manual, will claim up to 80 per cent of sales.
The reward for the buyer who selects the automatic transmission is a car that is both faster in the 0-100kmh sprint and more frugal at the petrol pump.
“There is no longer an excuse not to buy the automatic,” Winkler says.
But he denies the growing trend to self-shifting gearboxes means the end of the manual.
“There will always be someone who wants to shift gears themselves,” he says.
According to official Porsche figures, though, those people will be travelling slower than drivers who choose the automatic.
The official 0-100kmh time for the standard Carrera Coupe is 4.9 seconds, while the PDK-equipped model is 4.7sec. In the Carrera S Coupe, the corresponding numbers are 4.7sec and 4.5sec. Launch control, which is part of an optional Sports Plus package, drops the time further to 4.3sec for the Carrera S.
Fuel consumption is also better with the PDK models.
On the 3.6-litre Carrera coupe, fuel consumption is 10.3 litres per 100km for the manual and just 9.8L/100km for the PDK, while on the 3.8-litre Carrera S the manual uses 10.6L/100km and the PDK 10.2L/100km.
Winkler claims the $7000 premium for the PDK transmission won’t deter buyers, as the previous Tiptronic automatic transmission was already a $5600 option.
“We don’t think it will be an issue,” he says.
Apart from the new transmission, Porsche has added a number of features to the base model to compensate for the price increase.
They include bigger 330mm brake rotors and new callipers, an upgraded version of Porsche’s stability control system, bi-xenon headlights and a new version of Porsche’s entertainment/communication system with USB and iPod interfaces.
Prices increases are slightly higher in the more expensive models, with the new Carrera S starting at $248,100 for the manual (up from $227,600) and $255,100 for the PDK model.
Top of the new range is the Carrera 4S Cabriolet, which is $287,400 for the manual (up from $263,200) and $294,400 for the PDK model.
While the new PDK transmission is the headline act of the new 911 Series, the changes to the 3.6- and 3.8-litre six-cylinder engines are substantial, reflecting Porsche’s growing sensitivity to community concerns about the environment.
Improvements in fuel efficiency for both engines outweigh performance gains.
While power on the base model Carrera is up by 6 per cent to 254kW, fuel efficiency has improved by up to 13 per cent.
The story is the same for the Carrera S, where power is up 8.5 per cent to 283kW, while fuel efficiency has improved by up to 13 per cent.
And in a further nod to the environment, Winkler says both engines have been built to be flexible enough to accommodate fewer cylinders, with a turbocharged four-cylinder on the cards if community concerns dictate.
Other changes to the 911 range are more subtle.
They include LED daytime driving lights and bi-xenon headlights on all models, larger front air intakes, new wheels and a revised rear bumper with dual oval exhaust pipes for the Carrera and quad pipes for the Carrera S.
There is also more differentiation for the all-wheel-drive 911s.
They have new silver-coated air intakes, Carrera 4 badging and a reflector strip across the rear end.
Options for the new 911 include: a limited slip differential, active suspension for the cheapest Carrera models (the Carrera S models have the feature as standard), headlights that follow the bend of the road, satellite navigation and a 40-gig hard drive.
The Sports Chrono package is available only on PDK versions of the 911 and includes launch control, an analog and digital stopwatch on the dash, and sports settings for the engine, suspension and transmission. It costs $2980 on PDK models and $2319 on manual models, which don't get the launch control feature.
The new range goes on sale on September 20.