Porsche’s next hypercar could be poised to feature a 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 hybrid similar to that used in current-era Formula 1 cars, according to a new report. The as-yet unnamed halo model would go up directly against similarly cutting-edge race-inspired hypercars such as the Aston Martin Valkyrie and the Mercedes-AMG One.
The automaker's most recent plans to re-enter Formula 1 might have been aborted, but while the company was warm on the idea, their bid to emerge as both factory team and power unit supplier did bear some deliciously forbidden fruit.
It’s been about 6 years since Porsche debuted their 918 Spyder hybrid hypercar and so far speculation has been swirling that the marque has been ruminating upon the details of its successor, developed to showcase the technological and mechanical direction the company will be taking in the next decade or so. In terms of design, it's fairly established that the car will take many cues from the legendary Porsche 917.
British automotive portal Autocar says that the Zuffenhausen-based carmaker is mulling over their choices of potential powertrains with a 1.6-litre V6 turbo being a front-running option. The green light is contingent upon the Porsche’s board members, who are also weighing it against a fully electric alternative.
However, though this EV solution could theoretically outperform Porsche’s 99X Formula E racer by a significant margin, sources indicate that favour for this option has dropped following an internal study that concluded the potentially revolutionary solid state battery tech still proved unviable in their current state.
Should Porsche pursue the petrol-electric hybrid option, this unit would also support plug-in charging unlike the F1 cars the power unit was first developed for. Furthermore, it could open new avenues for the company’s motorsport arm to repurpose the driveline package to qualify for the new WEC Hypercar and the IMSA DPi class regulations.
It was revealed that in 2017, approximately 2 years after production ceased on the 918 Spyder, Porsche Motorsport tasked a 40-person team of engineers to the research and development of a next-generation six-cylinder hybrid powertrain with a displacement of around 2.0-litres to replace the V4 unit used in their Le Mans-winning 919 LMP1 racer.
Some time during that program, however, focus was shifted to a 1.6-litre unit to match the regulations set for Formula 1 cars. Most interestingly, work apparently has not ceased until today. Though their F1 ambitions have tempered, Porsche has been working to adapt the F1-inspired power unit for road use, particularly surrounding its long term durability, omitting the complex heat energy recuperation system in the process.
Mercedes-AMG, on the other hand, was first to announce that they were at work on a crowning hypercar of their own; one that would use a hybrid powertrain nearly identical to the ones used in the W09 EQ Power+ that won them the Formula 1 constructor’s championship in 2018 as well as the driver’s world championship for Lewis Hamilton.
However, progress on the AMG One hypercar is rumoured to have hit a few snags as the F1-spec power unit is proving to be much too fragile and high-strung to be used anywhere but on a race track. Even then, just like in Formula 1, it would need to be taken apart and rebuilt to properly maintain it. In this case, the upcoming road car's powerplant is rated for 50,000km between tear downs.
Hopefully, Porsche’s engineers can circumvent that issue entirely while still offering performance on par with the pinnacle of open-wheel racing.