Pulse rates race
Porsche’s latest concept car proves a hit, writes Paul Gover in Detroit
THE sales team at Porsche is bracing for another onslaught after unveiling a new-age supercar at the North American International Motor Show.
The last time it went public with a future car — the 918 Spyder — it was hit with more than 2200 cashed-up customers looking to get their hands on a car that was only planned as a show tease.
This time around there is just as much to like, perhaps even more, in the 918 RSR racer.
It’s a two-seater coupe concept loaded with a 3.4-litre V8 racing engine and a flywheel-based kinetic energy recovery system developed by Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The result is a combined power output of 570kWs and up to 150kW that can be directed to the twin electric motors that power the front wheels.
The car is built around an ultralight, carbon fibre-reinforced plastic monocoque and celebrates the 40th anniversary of Porsche’s victory at Le Mans with its original 917 racer.
It is clearly aimed at a return to Le Mans, even though there is no suitable class yet, but Porsche head of research and development Wolfgang Durheimer is not ruling out a production run. ‘‘There is no decision yet. We will see what happens with this car,’’ he says.
The 918 RSR is the first car to be unveiled at the opening of the Detroit show for 2011 and even at 6.30am on a cold morning it draws a huge crowd.
Porsche’s new CEO, Matthias Muller, describes it as a ‘‘race lab’’ and runs enthusiastically through statistics that point to its potential.
Yet Durheimer is even happier to talk about everything from a plug-in electric Boxster he is driving to hybrids in every future Porsche range and the chance of an upcoming compact sports car to sit below the Cayman and Boxster.
‘‘These (customers) are very successful businessmen. They are public leaders and they don’t want to have a bad situation where it has bad consumption or a bad performance level,’’ he says.
Unveiled: the 918 RSR Porsche attracts a big crowd at the North American International Motor Show.