Porsche Goes Electric
The No Substitute carmaker unveils an impressive hybrid concept, as well as the all-new 2011 Cayenne and several 911 variants.
Porsche made the first big splash at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show here in Switzerland by unveiling a whopping three world debuts — one of which is an amazing concept that might just be the highlight of the show.
The Porsche 918 Spyder is one of the most stunning supercar concepts we've ever seen. Vaguely Carrera GT-esque in its basic look, the 918 Spyder is something radically different — not just for Porsche but for supercars in general. And though it's officially a concept, you have to wonder if Porsche is testing the water.
A plug-in hybrid, the 918 Spyder can run for 16 miles on electric power alone. But it's also good for sub 7 minute 30 second laps of the famed Nurburgring track — take that Nissan Nissan GT-R — and, according to the German sports car maker, it will do 94 mpg while emitting just 70g/km of CO2 (that's quite clean, considering).
The 918 Spyder is powered by a race-derived 3.4-liter V8 engine that produces more than 500 horsepower, which is coupled to twin electric motors - one at the front, one at the rear - that provide an additional 218 horses. That means this ferocious machine will develop more than 718 horsepower altogether.
The result is zero-to-62-mph sprints in less than 3.2 seconds, and a top speed in excess of 198 mph. The engine drives the car via Porsche's 7-speed Doppelkupplungsgetrieb (PDK) twin-clutch transmission.
The electric power can not only be harnessed for eco-urban driving; a Race Hybrid mode includes a push-to-pass button that provides instant overtaking thrust whenever the battery is fully charged.
Featuring a body sculpted with carbon fiber, aluminum and magnesium, the Porsche 918 Spyder weighs just 3,285 pounds. The interior features include touch- sensitive controls and Range Manager integrated into the satellite navigation system.
Back in reality, the German sports car builder unveiled the second generation of the machine that makes Porsche most of its money: the all-new 2011 Porsche Cayenne.
As with the old model, the new Cayenne shares its platform with the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg, which also makes its debut here in Geneva.
The new Cayenne is nearly 400 pounds lighter, more powerful and 23 percent more economical than the outgoing model. It has a new 4-wheel-drive system and a new 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox. However, the biggest news is the hybrid technology, also shared with the Volkswagen Touareg.
The Cayenne S Hybrid combines a 333 horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine with a 47-horse electric motor to give high performance throughout the rev range and the possibility of electric-only running up to 40 mph.
Total power output is 380 horsepower, and peak torque is 427 lb-ft at just 1000 rpm, yet the Cayenne S Hybrid becomes the cleanest Porsche in the range, emitting 193g/km CO2 and returning 34.4 mpg.
We're particularly taken with the Sailing Mode, which disengages the engine from the drivetrain at speeds up to 97 mph when no additional power is required to cruise.
Fuel economy improves throughout the new Cayenne range as well. The entry-level 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine can achieve up to 28.5 mpg, while the 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel is able to realize 38.2 mpg — both 20 percent improvements over previous models. The Cayenne S 4.8-liter V8 now outputs 400 horsepower - 15 ponies more than last year's model - and returns 26.9 mpg. And the Cayenne Turbo's 500-horse twin-turbo version of the same V8 returns 27.6 mpg. That's a 23 percent increase, in both cases, over outgoing models.
The new Cayenne's reduced weight and 8-speed gearbox are the major contributing factors to the improvements in fuel efficiency. The new car is also 48 millimeters longer with a 40-millimeter increased wheelbase for improved space and comfort.
You can make up your own mind about the looks. Prices start at around $62,000, with the S Hybrid from $86,100 and the top spec Turbo around $122,000.
So what about the 911?
Surely there's no hybrid version of that? Oh yes, there is. The 911 GT3 R Hybrid uses KERS technology developed by the Williams F1 team to electrify this mean machine. Instead of heavy batteries, it relies on a flywheel generator to power two 81-horsepower electric assist motors. When in operation, they boost the power output from the 480 ponies already available from the flat-six engine to an impressive 642 horses for bursts of six to eight seconds, according to Porsche engineers.
Lovers of "proper" Porsches needn't feel totally marginalized, though. A new 530 horsepower Turbo S — 30 ponies more powerful than the standard Turbo — will also be available, proving core Porsche values haven't been overlooked. It's bonkers fast, too, racing from zero to 62 mph in an astonishing 3.3 seconds en route to a max of 197 mph. Asking price starts at $184,300 — or $195,600 if you want a Cabriolet.