Perhaps the only thing worse than a Cayenne for Porschephiles is the impending wave of hybrids the automaker is set to unleash.
There was Porsche President and CEO Michael Macht during Porsche's 2010 Geneva show press conference, decked out in his green tie and kerchief, announcing not one, but three vehicles that signal a huge shift in Stuttgart's future thinking. Macht calls it "a new chapter in the history of the company," and he's not exaggerating.
Porsche's evolving philosophy is called "Porsche Intelligent Performance," and while you can debate the intelligence of the new direction, you can't argue with the performance of the trio of vehicles on the show stand: the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid, the 911 GT3 Hybrid, and the stunning 918 Spyder mid-engine supercar concept. The trick with the next-generation of Porsches will be to make them as sporty and dynamic as ever, while lowering emissions and increasing overall efficiency at the same time.
The Cayenne S Hybrid is Porsche's first series production hybrid, and hits U.S. Porsche showrooms in the fall with the rest of the revamped Cayenne lineup. The Cayenne S Hybrid's full parallel hybrid system combines a 333 horsepower V-6 with a 47-horsepower electric motor. All told, the Cayenne S Hybrid has a total 380 horsepower and according Porsche offers the performance of a V-8 with efficiency of a V-6.
The track-themed hybrid on the stand was the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, a vehicle that employs two electric motors located on the front axle augment the 480 horsepower engine spinning the rear wheels. An electrical flywheel power generator takes the place of a hybrid battery pack and is installed next to the driver delivering energy to the electric motors. Porsche plans to test the 911 GT3 R Hybrid at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in May.
But the unquestioned star of the presentation was the 918 Spyder Concept, which uses plug-in hybrid technology to achieve a claimed 78 mpg (we're a little dubious of that number) while offering stunning performance numbers of 0-62 mph in under 3.2 seconds thanks in large part to a 3.4-liter flat six with 500 horses on tap and supercar-like Nurburgring lap time in the 7 minute, 30 second range. While we'll believe all that when we drive it someday in the future, Porsche has made it clear that it shows concepts with production in mind, so expect to see a version of the Spyder in a couple years time. One thing there's no debating is the 918's style, a magnificent two-seater with clear Porsche DNA that's low, lean and mean without being over-the-top outrageous. It has the supercar looks, we'll see if Porsche can deliver on its eye-popping future propulsion numbers.