The mid-engine 918 RSR coupe Porsche unveiled in Detroit today combines the 918 Spyder concept with the brake energy regeneration gear of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid. It's the past, it's the future and it's making us hyperventilate.
Update: We have Porsche 918 RSR live photos right here.
Cards on the table. The 918 RSR is the sexiest thing to come out of Weissach since Herbert Linge, a proper stylistic successor to the glorious 908. It's the kind of race car worth camping out in a Sarthe rainstorm, braving the malodor of sweat and Pernot puke wafting from 150,000 boozy French, just to get a smeared glimpse of a taillight on Tertre Rouge once every four minutes, while shivering under a musty swatch of Gore-Tex the size of a tea apron. Indeed, we are very, very happy with this car.
In shaping the body's monocoque of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, designers aimed their pencils at Porsche racing antecedents like the 908 longtail coupe of 1969 and 917 shorttail coupe of 1971, emphasizing the wheel arches, adopting a multilayered look by carving air intakes into the widened rear, and making sure that telltale fan wheel was positioned between ram air intake tubes and rear spoiler. The silky body color, "liquid metal chrome blue," is accented with stripes (and brake calipers) painted in the same "hybrid orange" as the 911 GT3 R Hybrid. The starting number, 22 recalls the 1971 Le Mans victory of drivers Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep, who set a distance record in their Martini-liveried Porsche 917 shorttail of 3,315.21 miles at an average speed of 138.13 mph. That record took 39 years to beat.
The 918 RSR gets power from a mid-mounted, direct-injection V8 derived from the Porsche RS Spyder race car's 3.4-liter V8, producing 563 hp at 10,300 rpm in the 918 RSR. Horsepower totals 767 hp with all hybrid gear, including two electric motor/generators at the front wheels each contributing 102 hp. Those motors get juice from a flywheel accumulator charged by regenerative braking (more to come on how that works). The electric motors can also provide a torque vectoring function, distributing torque to each front wheel as needed to assist traction. Steering-wheel paddles operate a six-speed racing transmission with straight-cut gears, also based on that in the RS Spyder.
Inside, the 918 RSR is less ornate than the 918 Spyder concept, but more luxe than a standard racing cockpit. The racing-spec steering wheel presides over seats clad in brown leather. A high-style console with a touch-sensitive user interface, culled from the 918 Spyder concept, divides the driver's station from the flywheel accumulator, looking ominously nuclear-reactor-like sitting where the passenger seat should be.
Porsche calls it an "experimental racing laboratory," and it continues the company's research into how to bring sustainability to the race track. We just think it looks like sex. Green sex. Hmm.