There’s no denying the mechanical, aerodynamic, and general automotive excellence of Porsche’s famous 911 sports car, which has elicited rabid fandom since its release in 1963. Since then, more than a million of these beauties have hit the roadways, and when conditions are dry, they perform like a dream.
Unfortunately, this otherwise superior vehicle has one rather glaring flaw. It really can’t handle water. A light drizzle won’t do much harm, but in a downpour, the wide tires and minimal weight that make for exceptional handling on dry roads produce just the opposite effect, and if drivers don’t slow down to compensate, there’s a good chance the vehicle will hydroplane.
While engineers and drivers alike have been aware of this issue for a while, the automaker has traditionally elected to keep the focus on optimizing performance on dry roads, where most owners are likely to put the pedal to the metal. That’s all about to change, though. Along with a variety of other safety and stability upgrades, Porsche has added a “wet mode” to help alleviate the threat of hydroplaning in excessively wet conditions.
What is Porsche’s New “Wet Mode”?
Porsche’s new “wet mode” involves a series of components designed to analyze road conditions, determine if hydroplaning is likely, and adjust to minimize the potential for hydroplaning, or to stabilize the car should it start to hydroplane. The process begins with miniature microphone sensors. When water splashes up into the front wheel arches of the car, these sensors analyze the volume and intensity, compare it to the speed of the vehicle, and determine whether or not the driver should be advised to activate the “wet mode” feature.
What happens next? When “wet mode” is activated, several things occur. First, engine torque buildup decreases and distribution favors the smaller front wheels to increase stability. This is assisted by added downforce when the aero flaps open. Then the PSM (stability management) and PTM (traction management) kick in to lower actuating systems. All of these systems work in concert to stabilize the vehicle and protect against the possibility of hydroplaning.
Why Upgrade Now?
Porsche’s new “wet mode” is part of a larger overall safety system upgrade for the release of the eighth-generation models. It also includes an electronic brake booster, mixed wheels that features larger, 21-inch rims in the back, and continuously adjustable dampers. Interestingly, the general concept isn’t new.
In the ‘90s, Porsche’s European research division launched Prometheus, a program that featured a concept very similar to the current “wet mode”, but it was never implemented. Recently, it was developed for use on higher performance vehicles like the 911 Turbo, but when August Achleitner, the engineer helming the 911 model line, heard about a serious hydroplaning accident in Austria, he decided to implement the safety upgrades across the line.
The truth is that Porsche drivers don’t want to drive in the slow lane every time the skies open up and pour. They want the car to deliver superior performance whether roads are wet or dry, and Porsche finally made it a priority.
Dealers and consumers seeking Porsche models or other luxury vehicles will find all the tools they need to buy, sell, or trade with ease on Dealerstrip.