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Porsche Working On Mid-Level Supercar To Take On Ferrari 458

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On: Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 9:35AM | By: Chris Weiss

Porsche Working On Mid-Level Supercar To Take On Ferrari 458

Not long after Porsche confirmed that it was building the 918 Spyder, rumors about other super-911 plans started flowing. Word was that Porsche was going to build a second supercar to slot between the 918 and the 911. Well, according to Autocar, those plans are alive and well, and Porsche will be positioning the car against the likes of the Ferrari 458 Italia and the McLaren MP4-12C.

Porsche chief Matthias Mueller gave a peek behind the scenes: "We’re looking to extend the range; we’ve got an idea to do another mid-engine model. We’re thinking above the 911 but below the 918 Spyder."

Porsche has indicated in the past that it plans to double current production by 2018—the same year that Volkswagen is looking to take over as the world's largest automaker. Since the 911 is kind of tapped out in terms of special editions and derivatives, new models will play a big role in this goal. Mueller's words indicate that Porsche isn't only concentrating on the low-end of its market with new vehicles like the Cajun and sub-Boxster model, but also at the upper end.

The new, high-end coupe isn't a definite yet, and would need approval by Volkswagen, but if it gets the nod, it is likely to use a big helping of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic to keep weight down. Engine possibilities are pure speculation at this point, but it could get the 3.4-liter RS Spyder V8 used in the 918 Spyder. In the original 918 Spyder, that engine put out 500 horses; in the Spyder RSR shown in Detroit earlier this year, it was tuned up to 555-hp. For the market segment that Porsche is looking at, the new car will need between 550 and 600-hp to compete. Another option is the 3.8-liter V6 used in the 911 range. That engine puts out 620-hp in its top tune.

One option that Autocar doesn't discuss is a hybrid powertrain. Porsche has shown a commitment to hybridizing its line, and has said that it will eventually offer a hybrid version of every model. While cited competitors don't use hybrid systems yet, Ferrari has been developing systems like the HY-KERS it installed on the 599 GTB for last year's Geneva Motor Show, and the HELE (High Emotion Low Emissions) system, which it equipped to the 458 at this year's Geneva show. While the latter isn't a hybrid system, it's a start-stop system designed to cut unnecessary emissions.

Given that the new Porsche will slot in just below the 918 Spyder hybrid, it's foreseeable that Porsche could use a combination of one or two electric motors with its V6 engine to deliver a combination of power and efficiency.

In terms of styling, Porsche is already working on it. Mueller said: "We have ideas on styling and design, which we will continue to develop in the coming months. We’ll also evaluate the economic side and then decide."

Overall, I haven't been particularly into Porsche's expansion over the years. The Cayenne and upcoming Cajun crossover are Porsches that I could live without. But, I have to say; at least Porsche is doing something on the other end. I love that the 918 was confirmed for production, and I like the idea of another car above and beyond the timeless 911. Ever since lusting after the 959 when I was a kid, I've yearned for a Porsche—not a 911 derivative but an actual model—that could compete with Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Now we may have two.


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