Absolutely blinding if the 911 GT3 R Hybrid that I drove last year is anything to go by. And given that the 918 RSR uses an electro-hybrid flywheel to store the energy developed by its braking system, just like the GT3 R Hybrid does, one would imagine that the effects would be broadly similar on a track. If so, the 756bhp RSR is going to be some weapon, and also some precursor to the road car that’s due to appear sometime during 2012.
The most intriguing thing about the GT3’s hybrid system is that it allows the driver to alter not just the car’s straight line performance but also its handling characteristics and its traction at the press of a button.
The energy stored by the flywheel system goes straight back to the front axle, making the car four-wheel-drive in short eight second bursts, which allows you to dial out understeer in corners where a rear drive GT3 would push wide at the front. It also allows you to carry less fuel in the first place (than a regular GT3 R) because you can generate and then use as you see fit the extra power while on the move.
Better still, it gives a thundering extra burst of acceleration pretty much whenever you want it, which makes passing other cars far less stressful than it is in the regular car. And the thing about the 918 RSR is that it will not only produce way more power from its conventional V8 engine (than the flat six GT3 R Hybrid does) but also have a lot more extra boost available if and when it’s required.
What’s not yet set in stone, as far as I gather, is whether the road car will use a similar system – storing its energy in a flywheel RSR-style – or if it’ll use a bank of batteries to store and then redeploy the energy developed under brakes. As it stands the concept for the road car, the 918 Spyder, uses battery storage, but it’s clear that if it can be packaged correctly the flywheel system is more effective (although just how happy customers will be to sit on top of a flywheel rotating at a not exactly quiet 36,000rpm remains to be seen).
Either way, the 918 – whether it uses battery of flywheel energy storage – is one heck of an exciting prospect. And not merely because it is knee-tremblingly beautiful.