The 2020 Porsche 911 was introduced back in November with a new chassis feature called “Wet Mode,” which Porsche admits was added to help prevent aquaplaning on wet roads because, apparently, 911 drivers tend to drive fast. Who knew?
Aquaplaning, or hydroplaning, occurs when a layer of water begins to build between the tires of the car and the road surface, ultimately reducing traction. It’s more likely to occur on wider wheels and at higher speeds, so considering the new 911 now comes with 21-inch rear wheels, and is faster than ever before, it’s pretty clear that driving in wet conditions could be an issue.
The new 911's “Wet Mode” uses microphone sensors in the car’s fenders which can pick up how wet road conditions are by the amount of water that’s splashing up into the fender. If the system determines a high risk of aquaplaning, it will alert the driver to activate this mode.
Here’s how Automotive News describes how wet mode changes the car:
If activated, the vehicle starts to prepare itself for potential hydroplaning. Engine torque buildup is reduced, its distribution biased to the smaller front wheels for greater stability, and aero flaps open to create greater downforce. Actuating systems for safety features like Porsche stability management (PSM) and Porsche traction management (PTM) are lowered.
The car’s new mode was actually first developed back in the 1990s, according to Automotive News, leading the current head of sports car development at Porsche to wonder why it was never implemented on the car before now.
I wasn’t initially aware that the 911 specifically had issues with maintaining traction in the wet, but looking back on some reviews, like this one from Top Speed, or this video of a 911 almost crashing in the wet, or this UK forum of 911 owners complaining about the issue, it would seem Porsche was justified in trying to do something about it.
Porsche straight up admits to AutoNews that 911 owners simply drive too fast in wet conditions, and it forced the people in charge of the new lineup to ditch plans to only include wet mode on the Turbo, and instead include it on every model.
Better to be safe than sorry.