Even with its engine in the wrong place, the Porsche 911 has been proving doubters wrong for decades, but it can only do so much. As a result, there’s been fairly large hole in the company’s lineup between fast 911s and halo cars like the Carrera GT and 918 Spyder, but if recent rumors are to be believed, it’s a hole that could be filled very soon.
Thought to be called 960, the new mid-engine model is slated to debut in 2019 and will be positioned directly against the likes of the Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracan and McLaren 650S. Porsche may or may not have teased this very car a few months ago as part of the company’s three-car assault on the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans.
As a complete clean-sheet design, the 960 won’t share an engine or chassis with any other Porsche. The mid-mounted 3.9-liter engine will be the first flat-eight to power a Porsche since the 907 racers of the late 1960s, and could benefit from as many as four turbochargers and a new VarioCom system capable of adjusting the compression ratio via variable length connecting rods. Rumors suggest the new engine has produced as much as 650 horsepower in a Cayman test mule, but expect even more in the production car.
The new engine also represents the continued expansion of Porsche’s flat-engine portfolio, with flat-fours powering the 718 Cayman and Boxster twins, flat-sixes for the 911 (obviously) and the new flat-eight for the 960.
The structure is expected to consist primarily of aluminum, but titanium and carbon fiber will also be used wherever it makes sense. Target weight is rumored to be around 3,330 pounds, which would put it on more-or-less equal footing with its rivals. Expect a 0-60 time of around 2.5 seconds and a top speed approaching 210 mph.
Porsche being Porsche, we can also expect to see myriad 960 variants, including an all-wheel-drive roll-out version, followed by soft-top spyder and a hardcore rear-wheel-drive 960 that could revive the GT1 badge.
Unlike the halo cars, the 960 will be a long-term addition to Porsche’s lineup, meaning it will need to return a profit. That being the case, we can expect a six-year model cycle, during which between 3,000 and 4,000 units will be built. Look for a starting cost of around $280,000.
The 960 is easily one of the most exciting cars currently on the horizon, so watch this space for more.