Mid-engined supercar to slot in above 911; two-seat rival to the Ferrari 458 Italia & McLaren MP4
25 March 2011

Porsche has plans for a new mid-engined supercar that, if approved by bosses at parent company Volkswagen, will take it into direct competition with Ferrari, McLaren and sister firm Lamborghini.

Conceived as a regular model rather than a high-priced, limited-edition production special, the new two-seater is intended to be positioned above the 911 but below the the 918 Spyder. Roadster and coupé versions are being discussed.

This would pitch the new Porsche into the same price territory as the Ferrari 458 Italia, McLaren MP4-12C and Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. The 458 Italia lists at £169,545 in the UK — £59,313 more than Porsche’s most expensive ‘regular’ model, the 911 Turbo.

“We’re looking to extend the range,” Porsche boss Mathias Muller revealed in a recent interview. “We’ve got an idea to do another mid-engined model. We’re thinking above the 911 but below the 918 Spyder.”

Muller suggests that the new supercar has already progressed beyond the initial drawing board stage. “We have ideas on styling and design, which we will continue to develop in the coming months,” he revealed. “We’ll also evaluate the economic side and then decide [whether to push ahead].”

The Boxster, Cayman and 911 use unitary steel construction, but it is believed that Porsche is considering extensive use of carbonfibre-reinforced plastic to reduce weight. Recent low-volume models at Porsche, including the Carrera GT and 911 GT2 RS, have given the firm experience in lightweight construction.

The business case for the new supercar is rumoured to focus on annual global sales of between 2500 and 3000 — around half that of the 911 Turbo and its various derivatives, including the GT2.

An alternative plan to borrow heavily from the second-gen Audi R8’s aluminium spaceframe architecture was never given serious consideration, according to a senior source. The initial proposals for the new Porsche supercar follow a similar parts-sharing strategy to that undertaken with the Boxster/Cayman and 911, which have a 60 per cent commonality.

“It is entirely possible that we could use a front end that’s similar but not necessarily the same as the 911’s, including components such as the axle and suspension,” said our insider. “The rear end wouldn’t be unlike that of the Boxster/Cayman in architectural terms, just bigger to accommodate a larger mid-mounted engine and gearbox installation, while providing greater overall length and width than the 911.”

Engine plans are less clear. But to compete with the 458 Italia, Gallardo LP560-4 and MP4-12C, the new Porsche will need in the region of 550bhp to 600bhp.Options include a version of Porsche’s 3.8-litre flat six, which in its ultimate twin-turbo form, as seen in the GT2 RS, currently kicks out 620bhp.

A production version of the RS Spyder race car’s 3.4-litre V8 is also a possibility. Such a unit is showcased in the 918 Spyder, where it is claimed to produce 555bhp on its own and 756bhp in combination with a 201bhp electric motor.

 

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