We first heard that Porsche was considering a new mid-engine supercar to take on the likes of the Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] 458 Italia back in 2011.
No, we’re not talking about the limited edition 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid that recently went on sale, but a more accessible supercar sitting just above the top-end 911 models and serving as a spiritual successor to the legendary 959 of the 1980s. Many are already calling the car the 960, but Porsche is yet to confirm the model for production so right now all we have is the car’s working title: 988.
According to Autocar, the 988 will ride on a new modular sports car platform that Porsche will eventually use for all of its sports cars ranging from the next-generation Boxster right up to the 988. The platform will be capable of mid- and rear-mounted engines, meaning the next 911 will also ride on the flexible architecture. Rear-wheel drive will be standard, but the new modular platform will also be capable of all-wheel drive—both conventional mechanical and ‘through-the-road’ hybrid as seen in the 918 Spyder. It's thought Lamborghini's Aventador successor will also use this platform.
In the 988, a horizontally-opposed, eight-cylinder engine will be featured. Porsche has reportedly reached the limits of its six-cylinder engines, so in order to keep up with rivals such as the aforementioned 458 plus newcomers like the McLaren 650S Porsche will need a bigger engine. A 4.0-liter displacement is expected, initially, with output likely to lie close to 600 horsepower. Turbocharging will almost certainly be employed, with Autocar suggesting that a quad-turbocharging system is being tested.
When might we see the new 988? The reported launch date is 2017. Soon after, we’ll reportedly see the next generation of the Boxster and Cayman launched, and then the next 911. Note, the 988 isn’t the only new sports car line Porsche is expected to introduce. In 2016, the automaker is expected to launch a new lightweight sports car based on the bones of the current Boxster and labeled a 718.