Just a few short days before sweeping the top two podium steps at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche posted an interesting photo on its Facebook page, depicting the white No. 19 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid P1 racer sitting next to a mysterious, low-slung sports car with a cover over it. The silhouette doesn’t resemble anything in the current Porsche lineup, and the cover reads “Mission: Future Sportscar.” It’s the third picture in a series that also includes the red 919 next to a red 917 and a black 919 next to a black 918 Spyder — the idea being that the colors represent Porsche’s past, present and future.
So what’s under the cover? In reality, probably just a foam mockup, but it likely represents Porsche’s first hint that the much-rumored 988 supercar is on the way. Porsche boss Matthias Müller announced in 2011 that such a car was in development, and, as far as we know, that’s still the case. We were recently led to believe that progress has been slow, but this photo, along the text on the cover, seems to be tacit confirmation that it’s still very much in Porsche’s product pipeline.
The 988 will be positioned above the 911 in Porsche’s lineup as a German alternative to the 2016 Ferrari 488 GTB and cost significantly less than halo models like the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder and 2004-2007 Porsche Carrera GT. Rumors suggest it will use a new mid-mounted, 4.0-liter, flat-eight engine based on the same architecture as Porsche’s current flat-six. With as many as four turbochargers, the new engine should produce well over 600 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Expect styling to take a page from the 918, as our rendering from 2014 shows. It will initially be available as a hardtop, but a Spyder variant is almost a foregone conclusion.
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It’s looking like Porsche’s Ferrari 458-rivaling supercar may not be as far along as we had initially hoped. Internally designated 988 by Porsche, it’s an enticing prospect. With a mid-mounted, 4.0-liter, eight-cylinder engine producing around 600 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, it would be positioned above the 911, but priced significantly less than halo models like the Carrera GT and 918 Spyder.
But, according to a report from Autocar, the project, which was announced by Porsche boss Matthias Müller way back in 2011, hasn’t progressed passed the feasibility study phase. This doesn’t mean it’s completely off the table, but things seem to be moving very slowly. Instead, as Porsche is focusing on its current core lineup. A new Panamera, due in 2016, is the first order of business, followed by a new Cayenne, and mid-cycle updates for the Boxster, Cayman and 911. New engines and transmissions are also on the to-do list.
That last bit about the engines could be a crucial piece of information. It’s thought that Porsche is expanding its family of horizontally opposed engines. Rumors have been swirling for months now about an entry-level, turbocharged flat-four for the Cayman/Boxster twins. These engines will likely use the same architecture found in the current 911’s flat-six, which could also form the basis for a flat-eight specifically for the 988.
Click past the jump to read more about the rumored Porsche 988.
Get out your salt shakers friends, we have a big bowl of rumor soup that needs some seasoning. Autocar is reporting that Porsche is readying a mid-engined coupe, codenamed 988, with a flat-eight engine as a direct competitor to the Ferrari 458 and Lamborghini Huracan. Autocar is claiming that with the power output of the current flat-six reaching its theoretical maximum, Porsche needs to look to more cylinders to keep pushing performance. With Porsche already using eight cylinders to power its new range topping 918, there is some credence to this claim.
The move makes a certain level of sense. With the 918 being a limited production model that is more a science experiment than a viable long-term model, Porsche will be looking to fill the gap with something that is cheaper to produce. This new model is expected to birth an entirely new era at Porsche with an all-new platform and a new engine architecture that will expand to every mid- and rear-engine car the company makes.
If the claims about this new super Porsche hold true, the world of sports cars is about to get a lot better.
Updated 07/08/2014: We have created a very cool rendering for the future Porsche 988. We hope you like it!
Click past the jump to read more about the 2018 Porsche 988.