Rumors of a gasoline-electric Porsche 911 have been circulating around the auto industry for years, and a report coming out of Australia indicates that they will materialize before the end of the decade.
The first plug-in hybrid 911 will be the next-generation Carrera 4. It’s still at the embryonic stage of development but sources close to Porsche told Australian website Motoring that the drivetrain will likely be made up of a naturally-aspirated flat-six engine out back, one or two electric motors up front and a high-capacity lithium-ion battery pack mounted low in order to drop the center of gravity.
The flat-six will power the Carrera 4 in normal driving conditions and the electric motors will kick in when a power boost is needed, such as when coming out of a sharp bend. The driver will be able to select from several driving modes (including two- and four-wheel drive) but whether the hybrid Carrera 4 will be able to operate on electricity alone is an open question.
Dr. Frank-Stefan Walliser, the head of Porsche’s successful motorsport department, explains that going hybrid is all but necessary in order to comply with the strict emissions regulations that will come into effect in the United States, in China, and across Europe. The weight added by the hybrid system will be kept in check because the Carrera 4 will not use a central differential and it will not be fitted with a turbo.
The next Carrera 4 will consequently be a lot more efficient than today’s model, and the executive says it will also be faster and more fun to drive.
“Most people believe hybrid is [Toyota] Prius. And slow and no fun to drive. Porsche is different. I love hybrids – if they are powerful,” said Walliser.
Related: Back-to-the-basics 911 in the works?
If the rumor ultimately turns out to be true, the gasoline-electric Porsche 911 Carrera 4 will make its public debut in 2018 at the earliest and will go on sale approximately a year later. Purists will scoff, but it sounds like they’ll have to get used to a hybrid Porsche because Walliser expects that, in the medium-term future, every member of the Porsche family will be available with a plug-in drivetrain.