In particular, the Porsche 911 Carrera is the dream machine for many and, as such, the team at Style Porsche in Weissach, Germany have their work cut out for them with every new model generation.

Balancing innovation with tradition, the challenge is to improve each model while also maintaining the traditional Porsche identity; to evolve with the times while also retaining a sense of familiarity. This is something Style Porsche’s Michael Mauer – who has been head of design since 2004 – and his team of 80 have succeeded exceptionally well in for 2012. As such, they have won the red dot: design team of the year for product design. One of the most renowned design competitions in the world, the award seeks to recognise the best in design in an international context. 

So what does it take to receive this prestigious inter-national honour of which, in the past, the design teams of Apple, Mercedes-Benz and Sony – to name a few – have also shared? For starters, the new Porsche 911 Carrera is more precise, flatter and sportier. The exterior has been completely redesigned, with every single line and radius changed; however, at a glance, the model still remains unmistakably a 911 Carrera.

Designing a new coupé with even more athletic flair started with a 100 millimetre longer wheelbase, wider front track and reduced height combined with the up to 20-inch wheels. Without altering the overall width, the design team developed a new shape with an ideal height-to-width ratio, giving it a more solid stance on the road.

While maintaining Porsche’s trademark features, every angle has been given modern design elements, for a new yet familiar impression. The standard Bi-Xenon headlights, for instance, have been redesigned, while still embodying the traditional, round headlight look of the 911 Carrera. A sleeker and more athletic silhouette is obtained through a light-refracting edge on the adjoining front wings. The lower-set bonnet between the wings references Porsche’s classic topography where the front wings are always higher than the bonnet.

The redesign dispenses with a radiator grille in favour of side air intakes, heralding the higher performance of the new 911 Carrera models. The headlights have been positioned on the outer extremes and wrap around to the sides to emphasise the width of the front end. The narrow headlights include LED direction indicators. The exterior mirrors have been completely redesigned and repositioned: from the mirror triangle to the upper edge of the door. They have a more filigree look without restricting the rear view and accentuate the car’s width and the sporty, low-slung look, while they also reduce wind noise and drag and help to prevent dirt build-up between the exterior mirrors and side windows.

The precision edge on the front wings extends across the entire roofline to the rear. The more convex and flatter windscreen contributes to the flat, fast silhouette. Even more sharply tapered quarter windows are featured, a distinguishing characteristic of the 911 Carrera side window design. This preserves the rear-sloping roofline – the Porsche flyline – which flows into the rear wheels.

The entry-level version of the 911 Carrera comes as standard with 19-inch Carrera wheels, while 20-inch Carrera S wheels in a new, premium-quality finish are standard on the S model. The new coupĂ© models feature the brand name ‘PORSCHE’, and below that a glossy chromeplated ‘911 Carrera’ or ‘911 Carrera S’ logo.

The Style Porsche design team was presented with the ‘Radius’ challenge trophy at the red dot: product design awards night – a gala ceremony at the Aalto Theatre in Essen Germany in July.

Curve caught up with Michael Mauer of Style Porsche to discuss the team, ‘the dream’ and the exciting new 911 Porsche Carrera.

The Porsche 911 remains the ‘car of dreams’ for many people. Why?

The Porsche 911 is unquestionably a design icon – due to its unbelievable success story. Hardly any other car maker has developed a car in nearly 50 years and developed it so cautiously.

There is a team of 80 working at Style Porsche. What are these people working on and what do they do?

Most people think that only designers work in a design department. Our department actually consists of different fields of expertise. So in our design team, called Style Porsche, we have different experts in several special fields – design, engineering, modelling, testing and so on.

How many people in the team worked on the new 911 and how long was the development timeline?

When the project started, nearly 50 per cent of the team worked on the 911 project, as we needed several scale and full-size models to be built at the same time. But after the design decision for one draft was taken, we reduced the 911 design team down to five permanent employees.

The development started in 2007, four years before the world premiere of the new 911 in September 2011.

How often is a new 911 released?

The first Porsche 911 was presented at the Geneva motor show in 1963. As of today, we have released seven generations: the first one was called the 901, then we had the G-Model, the 964, the 993, the 996, the 997 and this actual model; the 991, which was presented last year at the Frankfurt motorshow.

What were the biggest challenges you and the team faced when designing the new 911?

Designing a car means you have to face a lot of challenges every day: legal regulations, technical issues, aerodynamics, the fact the we run between tradition and modernity. But there were no extraordinary challenges in the 911 project apart from the fact that we were working on the core product of our brand that influences our whole design DNA.

We needed to respect the history of the 911 and the whole brand but we were also supposed to bring new ideas to the future. So as we designed the 911 we tried to look back to when special things happened during the 911’s life: for example, the 996 headlamp and the change from the air to the water cooling system. And that was our inspiration.

The 911 exterior has been completely redesigned to be more precise, flatter and sportier. What was the thinking behind this?

We have a very well-defined design process. Our designing procedures differ between proportions, styling and details. Most car makers underestimate the importance of proportions and try to fix it later with styling and details. This is the reason why our first steps always deal with the proportions of the car. We always try to improve the proportions, especially when we design such an emotional car as a sports car. The optimisation of the proportions of our cars is a continuous process we use to express and underscore – the design of every new model. The new 911 shows impressively that we found a few millimetres to even improve the proportions of a 911.

We changed and optimised the pro-portions. The main differences between the new 911 and the six generations before are: the longer wheelbase (100 millimetres), the shorter overhangs, the fact that it’s only 56 millimetres longer overall, larger wheels up to 20 inches, the exterior mirror on the door shoulder, Porsche lettering and model designation ‘911 Carrera’ on the rear, the new rear spoiler concept, and especially the new interior design with the rising centre console, including the new control concept.

What do you enjoy the most about your role at Porsche?

What I really admire most is that I have the ability to work for one of the most exciting brands in the world and to have  the opportunity to influence the design of these products and to drive them every day.

How many of the new version will be produced?

One car less than we can sell. 

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