They pulled it off in the 911 RSR, and that may be a sign of what’s to come.
Last LA Auto Show we saw the track-only Porsche 911 RSR make its debut where it stunned the world, not with the fact that it does nifty and authentic race car things such as leave its seat intact and adjust the pedals and steering wheel around the driver in order to keep weight distributed evenly throughout the car, but because it completely altered the 911’s classical rear-engine recipe by shifting the lump in front of the rear axle. Now, according to Car and Driver, we may see this change manifest in the next 911.
That tale was a bit vague when it escaped the lips of Porsche’s GT model line director, Andreas Preuninger, who only mentioned that a mid-engine placement for the next generation 911 was “absolutely” a possibility. Unfortunately, Preuninger also mentioned that the move is “not something that’s in the making at the moment.” That’s because Porsche isn’t contemplating the shift to throw off lifelong fans and squeeze a quicker lap time. Rather, it’s influenced by current racing rules that place an advantage on mid-engine cars. If these rules continue to shape Porsche race cars into the future, the mid-engine orientation will eventually trickle down into production models and change the 911 as we know it.
We have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the mid-engine placement is the most natural and is responsible for some of the best handling cars on the market. On the other, it’s been a Porsche staple to take the laws of physics and walk all over them with a pair of dirty German work boots, proving time and time again that it’s possible to make a great car, nay, one of the world’s best, even when the deck is stacked against you in the form of a rear engine that's cursed by Newton's laws. For now, all of Preuninger’s talk may as well be wisps of smoke, but at least it’ll keep our minds busy so we don’t have to think about the fact that the next generation 911 GT3 RS won’t get a manual transmission.