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Porsche’s next project might be a Ferrari 458-fighting supercar

Porsche apparently isn’t satisfied with shattering several laws of thermodynamics with the amazing 918 Spyder, they want to do the same in a cheaper car. Well, when I say cheaper I mean Ferrari 458 money, which is still more than most houses.

This rumored new 458 fighter, is thought to be dubbed the 988 and would sit above the 911 Turbo in Porsche’s range. Autocar reports that the new supercar will break with classic Porsche tradition and more strongly resemble the 918 than the classic 911.

This resemblance will be visual as well as technical, with similar engineering giving rise to some of the same styling cues.

For starters the 988 is thought to be mid rather than rear-engined, meaning a cab forward shape with a long rear deck. Moving the engine is good for weight distribution, but perhaps more importantly it will make room for an engine bigger than the classic Porsche flat six-cylinder.

Replacing this icon will be a boxer eight-cylinder powerplant on the same engine architecture as the four-cylinder destined for Porsche’s new range of ‘affordable sports cars.’  With an expected displacement of about 4.0-liters, this new eight-cylinder powerplant should offer all the power the Germans need to take on Ferrari.

There may also be room in the platform for the same type of sport-hybrid powertrain that is destroying physics in the 988’s big brother the 918.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this super car in potentia is the wide reaching implications it has for the Porsche brand.

Porsche hopes to drive sales up to 200,000 or more a year, and as part of that the company apparently plans on using common architecture and components across its whole range of cars. What this means in practice is far from clear, but speculation has it that Porsche will begin using carbon fiber composite as a key structural component, not unlike its corporate siblings at Lamborghini have done with the Huracan.

One advantage of this new platform sharing, will be that Porsche can build in space for hybrid powertrains across the range. For instance, Porsche is rumored to be developing three new front axles in parallel, one for rear drive cars, one for all-wheel drive, and one for hybrids.

Certainty will have to wait though. The makeover of Porsche’s lineup isn’t really expected to take hold until 2017. But 2017 and the years immediately after could see a big shakeup, as Porsche will also be replacing the Boxster, Cayman and 911.

If this turns out to be the case, then it could be the most exciting and eventful year the automotive world has seen for a very, very long time.