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Porsche 911 testing in the extreme: Video

Mon, 05 Dec 2011

The new Porsche Carrera 911 might not look much different from the last-generation car. It might not even look much different from the first generation. That doesn't mean the company just flips a switch and the new version is born. It takes years of research and development, and after that, testing.

Porsche uploaded a 10-minute documentary of the development and testing of the new 911, code-named 991, including extreme-weather exercises in South Africa and the Arctic Circle. The verdict--it takes a small army to make one of the world's greatest sports cars even better.

The video starts on South Africa's Western Cape. Porsche chose this location because of the diversity of the environment. The region has tall mountains arid basins and dust storms gathered by extremely strong winds. At the same time, another team of engineers puts the car through its paces above the 66th parallel north in the Arctic Circle.

Porsche first asks, “Why must a car operate in conditions most owners wouldn't live in, let alone drive in?”

It answers, “The measure of a Porsche is its ability to perform just as well here as it would on the German autobahn, interstate highway in the U.S. or anywhere else its owner might be.”

The video shows engineers in the final days of testing, when even a little glitch could mean big problems. On the ice, the transmission fluid in the seven-speed freezes, making it almost impossible to shift. After the test, testers pour boiling water on freezing-cold headlights to see whether they crack. Each night, they mark the headlight beams on the hotel wal. In the morning, they check again to see whether the auto-leveling system works in the extreme conditions.

The 911 is Porsche's identity. So even when it looks similar on the outside, it's very different. On this new car, 90 percent of the parts are new or fundamentally revised from those of the last-generation car.

The 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera is on sale now and costs $82,100 plus destination and tax.

By Jake Lingeman