Paris motor show: Porsche and Audi provide the sporting thrills
911 Speedster is the last of the current model, while Audi’s LMS race car closely previews the next-gen R8
Porsche’s new 911 Speedster has a tradition that stretches right the way back to the original 356 Speedster of the 1950s
For those attending the Paris motor show and not looking to get bogged down in the petrol-diesel-hybrid-electric debate, Porsche and Audi happen to be on hand to provide some four-wheeled entertainment of a more traditional kind.
Porsche’s new 911 Speedster has a tradition that stretches right the way back to the original 356 Speedster of the 1950s, and you can think of this new open-top 911 as both a 70th birthday homage to a classic Porsche, and a way of waving good bye to the current 911-edition 911. The new 992 is just around the corner, after all, and will be coming with hybrid power…
Sorry, I said I wasn’t going to mention hybrids here. As with classic Speedster models, the 911 Speedster gets a chopped-down windscreen, and heavily-stylised rear bodywork with distinctive twin humps behind the heads of the occupants. This car comes with blood red paint, and 21-inch cross-spoke black-finished alloy wheels. There’s no roof at all — just a tonneau cover to keep the worst of the weather off. Expect it to be a hit in California.
Mechanically, it’s based on the 911 GT3, so that means a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre engine, with 500hp, and possibly the option of a manual gearbox. Porsche will built just 1,948 examples, by way of marking the company’s 70th anniversary of its founding.
Audi drops hints
Meanwhile, Audi is dropping heavy hints about the look of the next-generation R8 supercar with its R8 LMS racing car. Designed to be raced by customers teams in such series as the Blancpain GT championship, the LMS has heavily revised aerodynamics, and a beefed-up engine and transmission, to make it more reliable when racing.
It also seems to be very much a half-way house between the current R8 and the still-unseen next-generation car. The treatment of the lights, bonnet, and grille seem to be more aggressive than on the current road car (well, this is a racing one we suppose…) and there’s definitely a sense that Audi is laying the groundwork here for its new mid-engined halo model.
Of course, that does drop us right back into the heart of the electrical debate. Last time out, Audi got close enough to putting an all-electric e-Tron R8 into production that some fully-working, fully-styled prototypes were built up. The plug was pulled (‘scuse the pun) at the last minute though, but you can safely expect Audi not to chicken out this time around.