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Auto Show:  2011 Naias

Porsche 918 RSR - 2011 Detroit Auto Show

January 2011 author photo


January 10, 2011

Now that Porsche has become part of Volkswagen, it might not have been unreasonable to think that the sports car company’s big 2011 Detroit auto show news might have been something cheaper than a Boxster (its least expensive two-seater), or some crossover smaller than the Cayenne (both vehicles have been doing the gossip rounds). But no, for the first car to be unveiled at a packed and revitalized North American International Auto Show, Porsche has swung the other way entirely, to the exotic and esoteric.

This is the 918 RSR, a “racing laboratory.” It’s a hybrid motorsport machine. A mid-mounted 3.4-liter V8 makes 563 horsepower at a screaming 10,300 rpm. When the output from the two electric motors (each one driving a front wheel) is added, the total is a mighty 767 hp. The point of the car’s existence is to “explore the potential of new fuel-efficient technologies under extreme conditions.” To quote Porsche’s chairman, Matthias Müller.

Most of its body is made from plastic reinforced with carbon fiber, a common practice for top-level racers because of the material’s low weight. This is something shared with its open-top sibling, the 918 Spyder. The Spyder is a plug-in hybrid supercar that can hit 200 mph yet return 78 miles per gallon. So although Porsche wasn’t giving out any numbers for the RSR, a similar performance isn’t out of the question.

Incidentally, the 918 Spyder will go into limited production and cost around $630,000. No such plans for the RSR yet. Müller did at least hint at more cars for us mortals. He mentioned plans for hybrid and diesel versions of the Panamera sedan, alluded to a smaller crossover SUV and said his engineers had “other surprises up their sleeves.” Next stop, the Geneva show in March.

author photoCOLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Porsche 918 RSR - 2011 Detroit Auto Show - Autotrader