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First look: Porsche’s inaugural 911 hybrid

Out there: Wild new GT3 Hybrid R is a rolling testbed for future 911 hybrid road cars.

First petrol-electric 911 emerges as Porsche reveals its GT3 Hybrid R racer

Porsche logo12 Feb 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

PORSCHE has revealed its first ever 911 hybrid – and its first petrol-electric boxer drivetrain – in the 911 GT3 Hybrid R racecar.

Due to make its global public premiere at the Geneva motor show on March 2 before undergoing a race program culminating in the epic Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race on May 15-16, the ground-breaking new car is described as a “racing laboratory that will provide invaluable knowledge and insight on the subsequent use of hybrid technology in road-going Porsche sports cars”.

Porsche’s first ever petrol-electric production vehicle, the all-new Cayenne Hybrid, is expected to debut alongside the hybrid GT3 R racer at Geneva before going on sale in Australia later this year, and the same technology will become available next year in its four-door Panamera grand tourer, which shares its engine line-up with the Cayenne.

But the emergence of the GT3 Hybrid R is the first evidence that Porsche also intends to apply petrol-electric technology to its hallowed 911, which unlike the Cayenne and Panamera employs rear-mounted flat six engines.

25 center imageWhile the GT3 R previews technology that should eventually power its iconic 911 super-coupe, Porsche suggested to GoAuto in October that a production 911 hybrid road car is at least five years away – if at all – ruling out the possibility of a hybrid variant being launched as part of the redesigned 998-series 911 coupe line-up by 2012.

Similarly, it said packaging, weight and range issues are likely to rule out an all-electric version of the 911 for at least a decade.

For now, like Porsche’s five-door models, the hybrid GT3 track model utilises a hybrid drive system to increase both performance and efficiency – this time on the racetrack.

Unlike Porsche’s hybrid road cars, however, the GT3 R’s drivetrain, developed especially for racing, employs two 60kW electric motors to drive the front wheels, leaving the rear wheels powered exclusively by its 353kW 4.0-litre flat six race engine.

Porsche says the all-wheel drive arrangement, which uses an electric flywheel power generator instead of batteries to power the electric motors, delivers greater traction and agility than the non-hybrid GT3 R.

The flywheel generator spins at up to 40,000rpm, storing power mechanically as kinetic energy. Similar to a KERS system in Formula One, braking action charges up the flywheel generator, with the electric motors reversing their function and acting as generators themselves.

The system allows GT3 Hybrid R drivers to call on the extra 120kW of peak power to increase acceleration for between six and eight seconds after a full recharge.

Of course, the extra electric power also doubles as a fuel-saving function, increasing its attraction for both endurance racing and public-road driving.

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All future models

911 pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.