Porsche broke with over 50 years of 911 rear-engine tradition when it rolled out the mid-engine 911 RSR race car at the 2016 Los Angeles auto show.
The primary benefit of going with a mid-engine design is weight distribution, since you no longer have the heavy engine behind the rear axle. Keeping the weight closer to the center of car leads to better balance which in turn leads to more stable and predictable handling.
At the reveal of the RSR, Porsche was adamant the mid-engine design was for motorsport only. However, one of its top engineers has since hinted that a mid-engine 911 road car is to be expected.
“There is nothing coming soon, but in the mid-term don’t rule [a mid-engined 911] out,” Andreas Preuninger, lead engineer for the 911, told Autocar at last week’s 2017 Geneva auto show. “I think that adding some excitement to the car in this way wouldn’t be bad.”
It’s likely the mid-engine layout will be used for a specific model in a future 911 lineup—one with only two seats. Porsche’s next 911 will be moving to a modular platform that will support both rear- and mid-engine layouts, so incorporating a mid-engine layout for a specific model shouldn’t be too difficult.
Unfortunately, the arrival of a mid-engine 911 will likely rule out any chance of the oft-rumored 959 successor happening. The last we heard, the mid-engine supercar was put on the backburner to free up resources for the development of electric car technology at Porsche.