Haig Haleblian, patrick morgan, Porsche, Porsche 911, porsche 911 speedster, Porsche Speedster, Speedster, Stan Townes, Vehicle Profiles

The real deal: The Townes Speedster | ClassicCars.com Journal


The Townes 911 Speedster | Patrick Morgan photo

The 11th time’s a charm, at least it was for Stan Townes. Eleven windscreens were used in the process of making this car, but that’s not the only interesting aspect of his Porsche 911 Speedster’s 51-year history.

The sleek lines and cut down windshield added an appeal that a traditional convertible couldn’t touch. After it was clear Porsche would not be making a Speedster 911, Townes sketched his own idea down. It wouldn’t be until 1967 that Townes was able to source a damaged 911 to build his own open-top 911.

A rolled 911 coupe made the prefect candidate, with the roof section no longer needed. Having suffered a soft roll, the donor 911 would very quickly be chopped up, with some parts from a Porsche Targa added for stiffness. A 1958 Speedster donated its rear cowl and that was grafted into the back end.

Townes removed all the brightwork and smoothed everything over until the car resembled the bumper-less Speedster’s lines he admired so much. Unlike the Speedsters of years past, however, wider flares and wells with a new radius were made for wide wheels and tires. Door handles were shaved. The interior kept the original 911 S gauges, though the steering wheel was updated to one taken from a 914-6.

American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels were used. Width was staggered — 7-inch up front, 8.5 out back.

Power came from Porsche’s 2.0 liter flat-6 engine, and rumors still swirl as to whether or not it had a hot cam. During the build, Townes had Porsche mechanic Paul Lang take care of the mechanical aspects of the car. Access to lightly used Porsche performance parts meant Lang could have installed a camshaft, but Townes never confirmed this with Lang. What he did want from Lang was the addition of chrome. After all, it was a show car and chrome was the hot-ticket item in the early 70’s as the car was nearing completion. Combined with painted engine parts, it makes for a great show when you open the engine cover. Inside, things aren’t too flashy.

Townes first show with the car is now infamous. The finished Speedster debuted at the 1971 Oakland Roadster Show and promptly earned a gold medal in its class. This feat was repeated at over a dozen shows thereafter, though Townes ended up selling the car in 1972. Fate wouldn’t be so kind to the new owner, as the car was damaged shortly after the sale. Though it was considered a total loss, it was re-built. Several owners had placed their small tweaks on the car since 1972. The Speedster’s current owner purchased the car in 2009 and proceeded to return it to the specifications it once had at the 1971 Oakland Roadster Show.

Haig Haleblian had known about this car for decades, but he came across the opportunity to purchase it by chance. As a vendor selling watches at a Porsche show, a friend of Haleblian’s asked which Porsche he would have if he could have any on the world. Without hesitation Haleblian replied, “the Stan Townes Speedster.”
That car was not present at the show, but Haleblian’s friend happened to recall the Stan Townes Speedster had been for sale in a Los Angeles classified. A promise to get Haleblian the contact info for the owner was made, and a new chapter in the Speedster’s history would soon begin.

Numerous attempts were made to contact the owner, but the phone calls were not being returned. Haleblian gave one final call. This time the seller answered.

Having friends in convenient places, Haleblian had some Porsche friends check the car out to verify it was the real deal and not a replica. Upon confirmation, a deal was made and a transport truck immediately was sent to pick the car up and take it to Illinois. Although the title was still being located, Haleblian had his car.

The car’s condition was a bit neglected, but not rough. It needed some refreshing but not a total rebuild.
Townes was contacted during the process to provide insight into the light restoration and to dispel some rumors about the car. For instance, the windshield frame was indeed all one piece, and not welded from sections. As well, 11 windscreens were used by Townes, only because cutting down a 911 windscreen was tricky. Though it originally had no side mirrors, a clip-on mirror was added for convenience.

Carpets were replaced, and keen eyed viewers will note that 911 sport seats were replaced with newer reupholstered seats from a 911 R.
Somewhere along this car’s journey to Haleblian, the original American Racing mag wheels went missing, so Fuchs were first used until replica mags were found. Haleblian also said that while some think the car’s stripe may have originally been dark blue, that’s not the case. Townes assured Haleblian that it had always been black with a white outline.

Haleblian understands the provenance of this car. After all, it’s not often a car is so impactful on the automotive community at large that a scale model of it is made. When Townes finally completed his Speedster in 1971, little did he know that it would take another 18 years before they finally built a factory version of their own in 1989.
Perhaps as a nod to the Stan Townes Speedster, the last 991 ever built was also a Speedster, in a very familiar shade of silver. But as it sits, this gorgeous one-of-one custom is in safe and caring hands.

Haleblian is an enthusiast and believes cars should be driven. If the weather’s good, he won’t be bashful about driving it. It is at shows often, and he says he is constantly amazed at how people will go crazy overseeing the car.
“They know exactly what it is, so when they see it for the first time in person, they are elated,” he said. “A lot have assumed it was lost to history after the crash in ’72.”

Is it for sale? Haleblian didn’t say it was but, with a wink, he did say every car has a certain price.

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Cars, International News, Porsche

992 Porsche 911 Belgian Legend Edition – just 75 units


This is the Porsche 911 Belgian Legend Edition, and it is the first special edition of the latest 992-generation 911 that celebrates one of the company’s most prolific racing drivers. The Belgian legend in question is none other than Jacky Ickx, who recently turned 75 years old at the start of 2020 (January 1).

A true motorsport icon, Ickx has competed in a variety of racing disciplines from Formula 1 to rallying, with a number of victories under his belt. However, it’s his success in endurance racing, particularly at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, that cemented his status as a legend. Of the six wins he notched up in France, four of them were in a Porsche.

As a special birthday gift to mark the maestro’s 75th anniversary, Porsche began planning the Belgian Legend Edition in 2018, turning to the talents of its Exclusive Manufaktur division, with input from Style Porsche and the Belgian Porsche importer D’Ieteren.

Based on a Carrera 4S, the special edition featured a variety of unique touches that paid fitting homage to the racing driver, starting with a bespoke “X Blue” exterior finish, which is based on the design of Ickx’s trademark blue and white helmet.

The colour is also applied on the Carrera Classic wheels (20-inch front and 21-inch rear), with laser engraved white accents laser that reference the white line around the helmet’s visor. Others touches include a badge bearing the Belgian flag and Ickx’s signature on the driver-side B-pillar.

Inside, the cabin is trimmed in black leather with Pebble Grey stitching on the dashboard, door panels and rear trim, all of which are applied by hand. The “X” shape of the stitching is a deliberate choice as a subtle reference to the man of the moment.

The sports seats also sport Pebble Grey piping and “911” lettering on the headrest – something that isn’t available on a normal Carrera 4S – and have seat backs finished in leather. Porsche even went the extra mile to feature Ickx’s signature on the centre armrest and colour-matched key fob, as well as install “Belgian Legend Edition” carbon door sill guards.

Unfortunately, only 75 units of the Belgian Legend Edition will be produced – one for each year since Ickx’s birth – and all of them will only be sold in Belgium.

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Audi, BMW, Cars, Feature Stories, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Porsche, Volvo

2019 year in review and what’s to come in 2020 – tough year for Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but Volvo soars


Having looked at how the national carmakers and Japanese brands fared in 2019, we continue on the year that was with the premium brands. It was a mixed year for players in the segment, with most of the activity coming from the German marques, as expected. The usual duo led the way in with the introductions this year, but it was a bumper year for the four rings as well.

Things were however a whole lot quieter for many players, and although this will change in 2020 for some, it doesn’t look rosy for at least one.

A slew of Audis. Really?

The brand that has always played bridesmaid to the two other Germans made a real go of it this year, introducing no less than 10 models in 2019. Amazing, really, when you consider how quiet it has been in recent years, with only the occasional low-key introduction to signal that it was still around.

The action started in March with the debut of four vehicles, three of which were new. The Q7 received a specification update, but it was the Q2, Q5 and Q8 that made for the news, with their arrival significantly bumping up the Audi SUV count in the country at a go. The second-gen Q3, meanwhile, joined the party late in the year.

Sedans – and fastbacks – were not forgotten in the rare Audi blitz. April saw the introduction of the A3 Sedan, with the C8-generation A6 and D5 A8L entering the showrooms in June before making their working debut in August. Elsewhere, the second-gen F5 A5 Sportback and the C8 A7 Sportback went on preview for a bit before they made they were officially launched.

That’s quite a haul from Ingolstadt. Whether Euromobil continues to play aggressive in 2020 remains to be seen, but Audi fans surely won’t complain if it does. In terms of what’s coming, the facelifted B9 A4 should be one of the highlights next year.

Monthly debuts from BMW

BMW Malaysia started out their campaign in January with two M Performance Editions, which essentially signed out the F30 330e and F15 X5 xDrive40e, and these were each limited to 300 units. Next up, the G20 3 Series, which arrived as a CBU 330i in March, and its debut also saw a full catalogue of M Performance parts being introduced.

The same month saw the debut of the G15 8 Series, and a month later, to show that the G30 5 Series wasn’t forgotten, the company brought the 520i Luxury and 530e M Sport variants into the market. The all-electric i3s was also launched in April, but final pricing was only announced in August.

In May, the G02 X4 M Sport went the CKD route (pricing revealed in June), and the G05 X5 and F39 X2 M35i went on preview, ahead of their official pricing being announced in July. The F87 M2 Competition was next up to bat in June, making its debut in Sepang, and this was followed by the X7 SUV in July.

The month also saw the G29 Z4 sDrive 30i and facelifted G12 7 Series being announced, the latter continuing on with a 740Le xDrive badge designation. In September, another variant was added to the G01 X3 range in the form of an xDrive30i M Sport model, and the G20 3 Series went the CKD route, retaining the 330i variant.

Models to look forward to in 2020 are likely to include the F40 1 Series, the F48 X1 facelift, G06 X6 and Munich’s answer to the CLA, the F44 2 Series Gran Coupe. The G20 3 Series range will also expand with the upcoming 320i, although there’s still no word on when the 330e plug-in hybrid will arrive, or whether it is even coming. Guess we’ll know in 2020.

Lexus rolls on, while Infiniti stalls

It wasn’t until June that Lexus Malaysia got into the swing of things with the refreshed NX 300, in three variant forms (Urban, Premium and F Sport). The facelift has been around since 2018, but the latest update adds on kit such as Lexus Safety System + while lowering prices.

The seventh-generation ES sedan made its debut as an ES 250 model in September, in two trim levels, Premium and Luxury. The same month saw the RX facelift making its way to Malaysia, with the RX 300 going on sale in Premium, Luxury and F Sport guise.

The coming year will see the introduction of the UX, which was first seen here in 2018 when it was previewed at KLIMS. At that point Lexus Malaysia said there were no plans to bring it in, but it looks like that has changed, and the SUV is slated for our market.

No cheer however for its fellow automaker Infiniti. With the brand languishing globally and in the midst of a restructuring (which will see it exit Europe completely and focus on the United States and China), it’s no surprise that the turnout of new models this year locally was zilch. The brand remains in the country, but with the KL showroom having closed (operations have been moved back to Edaran Tan Chong Motor premises), one wonders how long before the carmaker calls it quits in Malaysia.

The tristar juggernaut chugs along

As 2019 draws to a close, and unless something dramatic takes place in the sales charts, it looks like Mercedes-Benz Malaysia will still hold on to its best-seller title for another year, edging out BMW once more. However, this year won’t be like 2018, because the overall numbers are down for both – up to November, MAA figures reveal that Mercedes sales are down by 24% and BMW, down by 19.6%, year-on-year.

It hasn’t been for a lack of trying or products, with the introduction of new cards at every opportunity continuing to be very much the game plan. The ball started rolling with the introduction of the W213 E350, equipped with the automaker’s new M264 engine, in March. The E200 Sportstyle and E300 Exclusive, bearing new engines and kit, were also launched at that point. The same month also saw the pre-facelift C253 GLC 300 making its debut.

Next to arrive was the V177 A-Class Sedan in A200 and A250 forms. This was followed by the Mercedes-AMG C63S Sedan and Coupe facelifts, along with the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, which went on sale here in GT 43, GT 53 and GT 63S 4Matic+ forms. Then, the W222 S 560 e PHEV came along in June at the same evebt that gave the all-electric EQC its ASEAN debut.

The AMG A35 Sedan was introduced in September, and October was a busy month for the brand, with the W247 B-Class, C190 Mercedes-AMG GT R and GT C facelifts and X156 GLA 200 Style being introduced to the market. Rounding off the new product list for 2019 was the X253 GLC and C253 GLC Coupe facelifts, which were launched earlier this month. The refreshed SUVs also debuted Mercedes me connect, which will make its way on to upcoming models.

Expect no let-up in the introductions in 2020. Among these will be the second-gen C118 CLA, H247 GLA, X247 GLB, C167 GLE Coupe and the W213 E-Class facelift. The EQC is also slated to arrive in 2020.

MINI adventures continue

The brand’s first product introduction this year was the F60 Cooper S Countryman Pure in April. This was followed by the F57 Cooper S Convertible in July. The latter was a small scale outing, with a run limited to only 20 units.

Nothing like a commemorative edition to evoke nostalgia (and add to sales), and that was certainly the case when the 60 Years Edition popped up in August. The model is a 60-unit limited-edition offering based on the Cooper S 3 Door hatch.

Elsewhere, the F54 Clubman facelift premiered in November, going on sale here in sole Cooper S form. The John Cooper Works Clubman and Countryman were also unveiled at the same time. The next year should see the MINI Electric among the new introductions heading to our shores.

Short but Swede

There were only two new Volvos coming our way this year, and both arrived towards the tail-end of it, but despite this the Swedish brand has been gaining traction – up to November, it sold 1,691 cars, 32% up from the 1,279 units it had achieved by the same time last year. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that the German brands will sell less this year than in 2018, it’s a big plus on the brand’s report card.

The much-awaited third-generation S60 finally made its way here in October, going on sale in solitary T8 R-Design guise. While initial units are fully imported (CBU), local assembly is set to start later on, with no changes expected in the specifications when CKD production begins.

The XC90 facelift was the other, the refresh bringing about minor design tweaks, new kit and a bigger battery for the T8 Twin Engine, which increases the pure electric driving range, all accomplished without raising the price from before. The brand also introduced a leather dashboard for the T8 versions of the S90, XC60 and pre-facelift XC90 in August.

No new cats, nothing roving on the ground either

With no new product introductions in the past 12 months, Jaguar Land Rover Malaysia continued to sell what it had in 2019, but there should be a fair bit of activity next year. On the Jaguar front, while the I-Pace has been teased on the local website, it surely won’t be the next in.

That honour should go to the E-Pace – the SUV, first seen locally at our PACE 2018 event, was sighted in the country earlier this month, so it shouldn’t be long before it finally makes its long-awaited local debut. It will be joined by the second-gen Range Rover Evoque, which was previewed at PACE 2019, and was spotted this month undergoing vehicle type approval (VTA).

As for the new Land Rover Defender, don’t hold your breath too long waiting for it to show up that fast – any sign of it will likely be well into the second half of the year at the earliest, given that Australia only gets it in June. High right-hand drive demand might also delay timelines.

Taycan get it out fast enough

No shortage of ground activities – and customer engagement – in Sepang this year for Porsche, but in terms of product launches things were rather on the quiet side. The biggest bang was the introduction of the 992-generation 911 in July, the eighth-gen making its local debut in Carrera S and 4S guise.

Two versions of the Macan facelift were also introduced, the base 2.0 litre in June and the Macan S in August. Earlier in the year, Sime Darby Auto Performance revealed a 15-unit, limited-run 718 Cayman SportDesign edition for the Malaysian market.

Models due next year should include the Cayenne Coupe, but all eyes are of course on the new all-electric Taycan. We do know its set to arrive in 2020, but now we know around when – it’s due in around eight months. According to the folks at Porsche Asia Pacific, the first examples for Malaysia are due sometime in August, and we’ll be getting the Turbo and Turbo S first, well ahead of the entry-level 4S.

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Car News, chevrolet blazer, electric cars, electric trucks, Ford Ranger, General Chat, Mazda, mazda cx-5, mazda3, Mustang mach e, New Cars, Nissan, Porsche, subaru outback, Tech + Cars, Tesla, toyota supra, United States

CarGurus: Our Automotive Highlights of 2019 – The CarGurus Blog


Few could argue that 2019 has been a fascinating year in the world of motoring – but what are your automotive highlights of 2019? We’d love for you to tell us in the comments section below this article, or via the CarGurus Facebook page. To get you started, below our writers have put forward their own automotive highlights of 2019, from pickups to Porsches.

Chris Knapman, Editor, CarGurus UK

Will time show that 2019 was the year the electric car broke through? There’s certainly been no shortage of new products using battery power, from the Porsche Taycan and latest Nissan Leaf to the impossible-to-ignore Tesla Cybertruck.

Combine these new cars with an improving charging infrastructure and you’d expect the tide of public opinion might start showing signs of softening towards EVs. That was certainly the case according to our own research, which revealed that the number of consumers who consider themselves as likely to own an EV in the next five years jumped to 26% in 2019, up from 15% in 2018. This is most likely just the start, too: Who would bet against that number having grown significantly by this time next year?

Back in the world of internal combustion, my honorable mention for 2019 must go to the latest generation of Porsche 911, the 992. Not only does it masterfully update the legendary 911 format for this hi-tech age with its fabulous interior and ultra-sleek exterior, but in terms of performance, the 992 moves even the basic, non-GT or Turbo models firmly into supercar territory. In fact, if I had to narrow down my automotive highlights of 2019 into just one, fleeting moment, it’d be the surreal three-point-something seconds it took our four-wheel drive, PDK-equipped 911 test car to fire from 0-62 mph.

Electric vehicles might be coming, but internal combustion is still more than capable of taking your breath away.

Megan Hennessey, Editor, CarGurus US

I’m struck by the number of performance wagons and SUVs we saw introduced in 2019. Fans of the Audi S4 Avant rejoiced when the German automaker revealed it was bringing its RS 6 Avant to North America. It packs a 4.0-liter V8 that makes 591 hp and 590 lb-ft, hits 60 mph in about 3 seconds, and reaches a top speed of 189 mph.

Just as exciting was the introduction of the RS Q8, a performance SUV packing the same power as the RS 6 Avant. We had a chance to take a closer look at the 2020 RS Q8 at the 2019 LA Auto Show, and it adds plenty of features aside from the engine, like 23-inch wheels and an RS-specific gloss-black grille.

And in the EV space, electric trucks took center stage: Bollinger brought us a production-ready version of its B2 electric truck, Tesla unveiled its unique Cybertruck, and Rivian gets closer to its production-ready model of the R1T. But are truck shoppers willing to make the switch from gas-powered to electric? It’s hard to say. In our yearly Truck Sentiment Survey, we found that 70% of shoppers were willing to switch brands, which is good news for these startup truckmakers. However, their high prices may keep shoppers away.

Steve Halloran, Editor, CarGurus US

With one colleague celebrating electric vehicles and another performance wagons and SUVs, I feel obliged to mention one 2019 highlight they didn’t: Ford’s live-streamed debut of the 2021 Mustang Mach-E just before the LA Auto Show. Ford’s decision to put the name and badge of its mighty Mustang on an electric crossover generated controversy, of course, but a pony-equipped vehicle with up to 300 miles of range, usable seating for 5, almost 60 cubic feet of cargo room, and a 0-to-60 time of less than 4 seconds sounds great to me.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

But my 2019 highlights came from two automakers CarGurus has found compelling for years, Mazda and Subaru, in the form of strong new versions of proven models. The redesigned 2019 Mazda3 earned rave reviews from almost everyone who drove it, including George Kennedy, and the updated 2019 CX-5, which we sampled in the snow at the end of last year, also earned praise from a wide variety of reviewers.

2020 Mazda3

A new version of our favorite Subaru model also arrived in 2019. We got a chance to drive the 2020 Subaru Outback back in September and enjoyed it quite a bit. The new edition of this wagon/crossover finally offers a turbocharged engine under its hood, which drivers living at high altitudes should particularly appreciate. Our recently published review of the 2020 Outback found it strong from functionality and cost-effectiveness standpoints, which we consider hallmarks of the Subaru brand.

2020 Subaru Outback

Matt Smith, Editor, CarGurus US

This time of year, everyone’s talking about electrification and progress and the hot new thing. But as anyone with their eyes open can clearly see, 2019 was the year of the throwback.

First, Chevy resurrected the Blazer as a stylish, sharp, and sexy crossover complete with nearly $1,400 worth of 21-inch tires. Sure, the new 2019 Blazer had its detractors, namely those bemoaning its lack of off-road performance, but I, for one, welcome our new crossover overlords.

And it’s not as if 2019 didn’t bring us plenty of rugged capability, either. Carrying on with the throwback theme, both Ford and Jeep returned legendary truck nameplates to the market, with the 2019 Ranger and 2020 Gladiator.

Finally, the highlight of the year for this writer was the long-awaited return of the Toyota Supra. Partnering with BMW gave the new coupe a brilliant Bavarian heart and soul (or engine and chassis, for our more literal readers) to pair with its stunning exterior styling. Sure, the 2020 GR Supra’s interior might feel a bit familiar, and the lack of a manual transmission will cut it off some enthusiasts’ shopping lists, but it’s safe to say that no other car on CarGurus’ 2019 test-drive review roster received as much attention at gas stations, grocery stores, race tracks, or anywhere else we drove it.

For more car news, check out these articles:

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Cars, EVs and Alternative Fuel, Hybrids, International News, Porsche, Technology

Porsche reveals new software-based torque control system for EVs – drive through snow as if on rails!


Porsche Engineering has developed and begun testing a new torque control system for an all-wheel drive electric SUV that will apparently provide maximum stability and safety when driving, all without using additional sensors on board. Instead, everything is software-based (developed in-house), so torque control is purely electronic.

Porsche Engineering (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Porsche) claims that this drive technology was seen only on Mars rovers, so it had to develop one for road-going cars. The division’s team leader for function development, Dr Martin Rezac said: “We had to develop a lot of it from the ground up,” and the system has been calibrated in real-world test drives over two winters. Are you ready for this?

It all starts with the electric SUV prototype, fitted with four electric motors, one in each wheel. This enables all-wheel drive, and Porsche says the system enable extremely variable distribution of power. Imagine having a separate throttle pedal for each individual motor – that’s how Ulf Hintze, an employee Porsche Engineering, puts it.

In a conventional AWD car, there is only one engine at work, and the power is distributed to the axles through a central differential. By way of physics, the torque ratio is fixed, but the ratio can be changed by installing additional mechanical components such as a multi-plate friction clutch. This is sluggish compared to a purely electronically-controlled system, Porsche says.

So fast, in fact, that the software intelligently distribute forces to the wheels every millisecond, ensuring that the car behaves neutrally, all the time. Porsche’s own winter testing showed that the e-SUV could steer confidently into a tight, snow-covered corner at 80 km/h without needing to slow down. In a regular car, the tail could potentially swing out, sending the car into a not-so merry-go-round.

According to Porsche Engineering, the electronic torque control software can be used for different motor configurations for other types of electric vehicle. Generally, development starts with the power distribution software. For example, a 50:50 front-to-rear axle split makes sense for straight-line driving. Under acceleration, the software switches fully to rear-wheel drive, or purely front-wheel drive around a sharp bend.

The next step is to adjust the torque to the wheel speed. The base algorithms are programmed to ensure that all wheels spin at the same speed. On a dry stretch of road, that’s fairly easy to accomplish, but things get considerably trickier when driving on a snowy mountain pass. For instance, if the front wheels drive over an icy patch, they could start spinning and offer no traction in return, especially without mechanical or electronic intervention.

Again, Porsche’s new torque control system detects this and immediately redistributes torque to whichever wheel that spins slower, and thus have more grip. This slip-mitigating torque vectoring function is not new, of course, but the argument is that an electronic system operates far more quickly than the various speed-sensing limited-slip differentials out there today, and does so with virtually no wear.

The third and most vital function of the torque control system is in lateral dynamics control. In short, Porsche says this immediately puts an end to understeering. The underlying mechanics is simple: in a left-hand turn, it would brake the rear left wheel and accelerates the right rear wheel until neutrality is restored.

Similarly, the system also counteracts oversteer, and Porsche says the driver would ideally notice nothing when these interventions occur, because it acts very subtly and quickly. “It feels like driving on rails – an SUV that behaves with the agility of a sports car,” says Hintze when summarising the effect.

There is also a software, called the “observer,” that continuously monitors all driving factors such as steering input, acceleration, and even how much the vehicle is turning around its vertical axis. These data are provided by a yaw sensor, and when understeer or oversteer is detected, the “observer” intervenes. This is much like a regular electronic stability control system, but Porsche says its software can do more.

While a conventional ESP system only brakes, in an EV, the individual wheels can be accelerated as well. This restores neutrality without losing speed, and the intervention is less jerky than a hydraulic ESP system. The typical juddering caused by a regular anti-lock brake system is also effectively omitted.

However, Rezac says the development of the observer was the biggest challenge, because fundamentally, a car knows relatively little about its own state. It doesn’t know its own speed (it can only derive it from the speed in which the wheels spin), which becomes difficult on ice and snow. To compensate, it has to use extra data such as longitudinal and lateral acceleration to estimate its current speed.

Weight distribution can be just as vague. While the suspension captures load data on individual wheels, this merely provides clues than certainty. The shocks simply indicate increased weight on the rear axle, but this could be due to the car being parked on a slope, or rather just heavily loaded with goods.

Remember, Porsche Engineering had to develop this software without using additional sensors, so it’s programmed to estimate the car’s important parameters. Interestingly, the torque control system is able to communicate with a particular sensor that detects the inclination of the car, which is usually used for the auto-levelling headlights system. It’s an unusual data source and seemingly insignificant, but such was the extent of development and calibration.

While the application seems promising (maybe not so much for purists), there were significant hurdles to overcome. For example, the electric motor’s rapid reaction time can sometimes cause undesired effects. “The electric motors respond so quickly that vibrations can occur,” Hintze says, who conducted the winter test drives with his team.

Sometimes, the software distributes torque at increasingly fast intervals, which caused an audible revving of the motors. Also, the individual motors cannot function at full capacity when battery level drops. “The control range collapses in this case,” says Hintze. Instead of 100% torque on one axle, perhaps only 60% may be available. And the torque control has to factor that in as well. But all that said, it’s quite a piece of tech, we think. Wouldn’t you be grateful to be driving through snow as though your car is on rails?

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Cars, Porsche, Spyshots

SPYSHOTS: Porsche Panamera facelift – interior seen


The second-generation Porsche Panamera facelift has been spotted again, and this time we’ve gotten a look at part of its interior; namely, the dashboard. Here, earlier guesses have been confirmed where the revised Panamera is seen here to feature the new steering wheel design from the 992-generation Porsche 911, though most of the dashboard architecture appears carried over from the pre-facelift car.

As such, the centre console with the haptic feedback controls remains, as do the touchscreen display and the driver’s instrumentation set with a central analogue tachometer – of a similar design as the pre-facelift Panamera’s, rather than the vintage-look item in the 992 Neunelfer – flanked by digital displays.

Judged on its exterior, the development car here appears to be the Turbo variant, with twin LED DRLs on each side of the front bumper and a split deployable spoiler on the rear bootlid. Changes for this facelift include the aforementioned front DRLs which are now spaced further apart and a different styling treatment for the top centre of the front bumper where the licence plate resides.

The full-width, three-dimensional tail lamp assembly has also been mildly revised for the update, where a central light strip now appears more integrated with the main tail lamp elements which are now closer to the upper edge, in a fashion similar to that of the Sport Turismo facelift development car sighted earlier.

The Panamera’s powertrain line-up should be similar, if not identical to that for the Panamera Sport Turismo, which is expected to include a mild-hybrid setup pairing a 48-volt electrical architecture with a 2.9 litre biturbo V6 petrol which currently serves in Porsche as well as Audi models. This should augment the 440 hp/550 Nm outputs this produces in ICE-only form, on top of improving emissions and economy.

Transmission can be expected to retain the services of the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic which the Panamera currently uses, as is all-wheel-drive. At the upper end of the Panamera ladder, the firm’s 4.0 litre biturbo V8 petrol can also be expected to continue here, in both ICE-only and plug-in hybrid forms, the latter represented by the 680 hp/850 Nm Turbo S E-hybrid in current guise.

GALLERY: Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo facelift spyshots

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