Pulse rates race

Porsche’s lat­est con­cept car proves a hit, writes Paul Gover in Detroit

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

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.

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