Porsche unveils latest race car and a new Panamera

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Los Angeles — Porsche rocked the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday with the introduction of its new mid-engine Porsche 911 RSR racing car that will do battle against the Corvette C7.R, Ford GT and Ferrari 488 in 2017 in the IMSA Weathertech racing series at tracks like Belle Isle.

The new mid-engine Porsche 911 RSR race car.

Yes, mid-engine.

The iconic 911 is moving its famously rear-mounted engine to the middle in order to better compete in the world GT arms race. The mid-engine Ford GT and Ferrari dominated LeMans last year and the Corvette is reportedly developing its own mid-engine machine.

“Applying all freedoms of the regulations has allowed us to place the engine closer to the middle,” said Porsche sales and marketing executive Detlev Von Platen.

Mid-engine architecture is inherently better-balanced than rear and gives developers more options to add aerodynamic and drivetrain options at the front and rear of the car. In the case of the RSR, Porsche has developed a bigger defuser aft of the engine that helps suck the car to the ground.

The new mid-engine Porsche 911 RSR race car.

The RSR’s debut overshadowed the world premiere of the new Porsche Panamera and its new, turbocharged V-6 engine in L.A. But it’s fitting the RSR stole the show since the marque’s race cars give performance cred to Porsche’s highly profitable line of sedans and SUVs.

“We may not have invented the sedan, but we have made a Porsche out of it,” grinned Porsche Global CEO Oliver Blume.

Panamera Turbo Executive

The base Panamera is the second generation of the four-door sedan — and the first to sport a base, turbocharged six-cylinder. With 330 horsepower, the Panamera gains 20 ponies on the previous generation’s normally aspirated six. The Panamera continues Porsche’s transition to all-turbo engines in order to increase performance and meet increasingly stringent government emissions mandates.

Ridiculed for its awkward, bulbous rear end — critics remarked the sedan looked like a stretched-limo version of the 911 coupe — the Panamera’s new design has a racier, fastback appearance.

The base Panamera is actually not the first sighting of the car: the performance S (440 horses) and Turbo (550 horsepower) models were introduced in Europe earlier this year. The base car was joined onstage in L.A. by the debut of the most opulent Panamera variants: the Executive models.

Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive

With six more inches of wheelbase (the base Panamera is already longer than a Ford Explorer), the all-wheel drive Executive models come in Panamera 4 Executive, Panamera 4S Executive, Panamera Turbo Executive and Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Executive (with 32 miles of all-electric range).

And they are engorged with luxury features.

Porsche Panamera 4S Executive

Standard Executive features include a panoramic roof, adaptive air suspension and a roll-up sunblind behind the rear headrests. The Panamera 4S Executive and Panamera Turbo Executive get even more tricks – like rear-axle steering and soft-close doors.

Perhaps more dramatic than its exterior improvement is an all-new center console with a more integrated screen and control buttons. “Our advanced cockpit is smartphone-like,” said Blume. The long-wheelbase Executive models prioritize rear-seat luxuery with optional, large rear center console equipped with two integrated folding tables. Also available are 10.1-inch entertainment displays integrated in the backrests of the front seats can be detached and used as tablets outside the vehicle.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne.