New Porsche hybrid road-racer 10 | 01 | 2011

    PORSCHE HAS taken hybrid technology to a new level by introducing its 756bhp, 918 RSR at the Detroit Motor Show today. Based on the German manufacturer's original 918 Spyder, the V8 produces 555bhp at a heady 10,300rpm, but that's further supplemented by an additional 201bhp produced by a pair of front-mounted electric motors. The result? A monstrous 756bhp.

    Utilising a six-speed paddle-shift transmission, the 555bhp is fed through the rear wheels while the front-mounted electric engines use energy stored during braking in a flywheel spinning at up to 36,000rpm. Their power is called into action manually by the driver simply pushing a button.

    And here's where the technology of the 918 RSR puts battery-powered cars instantly in the shade; the flywheel system — a development of the set-up already used by Porsche’s current hybrid racer, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid — has potential weight benefits over heavy battery cells. And such is the cutting edge of the car that it uses technology commissioned by Porsche and built by a division of the Williams F1 team.

    Not only does the 918 RSR road-racer enjoy up to eight seconds of continuous supply when the system is fully charged, but it offers a torque vectoring ability to improve agility and steering response.

    And when it comes to racing, the electric motors — as proven in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid — guarantees to help reduce fuel consumption. This in turn cuts the number of pitstops required and/or allows the vehicle to run with less fuel on board. Result? A faster car over a race distance.

    As with the original Spyder, the 918 RSR's monocoque chassis is made from carbonfibre-reinforced plastic. It also has a hard-top and doors that open vertically.

    Apart from the huge rear wing, the shape of the RSR is thought to represent that of the eventual 918 production model. In the cabin, the hybrid flywheel replaces the passenger seat, but does looks realistic and luxurious enough to give a pretty significant hint at the eventual 918 production car’s interior.

    Will the 918 RSR actually race? Well don't rule it out. As was the case with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, the newcomer will be used as a testbed for the hybrid systems in motorsport. Summer could — indeed, should — see the 918 RSR make an appearance at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. When the 911 GT3 R Hybrid made its debut in the same race last summer, it led for more than eight hours.

    And if you fancy one, you'd better have quite a stash of dosh. Porsche has still to finalise the price, though the manufacturer is already taking deposits and letters of intent from prospective buyers. Don't expect any change from 500,000 euros, that's about £422,000.

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    Jim McGill

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