The ‘new 928’ will be a fifth model line.

Get ready for a blast from Porsche’s past! The German firm is developing a luxurious, front-engined grand tourer – a spiritual successor to the 928 built between 1977 and 1995. The ‘new 928’ will be a fifth model line, and is designed to sit above the sportier 911 in the range.

With the compact Boxster and Cayman, the 911, the Cayenne SUV and four-door Panamera, Porsche would appear to have most bases covered. But it’s notable for its absence in the front-engined GT segment. The newcomer will allow the brand to take on rivals such as the Ferrari 599 GTB, Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9. And our exclusive pictures show exactly why the curvy, Panamera-based coupé is set to stun the competition.

Essentially it’s a two-door, short-wheelbase version of the Panamera, which will help to spread the £1.1billion development costs of that model. Its front-engined layout has a number of inherent benefits, too.

A rear-engined 911 has barely more than 100 litres of luggage space, but a similarly sized GT with its motor up front would offer a useful 320 litres – a vital attribute if the new 928 is to be taken seriously as a grand tourer.

While the nose is virtually identical to the Panamera, the shortened wheelbase and 2+2 layout mean the 928 features far smoother lines at the back. One of the major criticisms levelled at the four-door Panamera was its bloated rear, but this model’s muscular haunches and neater proportions should attract a new wave of style-conscious customers.

As you’d expect from Porsche, though, driver appeal remains a top priority. The engine line-up will mirror that of the Panamera, so a 4.8-litre V8, with or without a turbocharger, producing 500bhp or 400bhp, will be available. The naturally aspirated variant is set to come with four or rear-wheel drive, while the range-topping turbo model will be 4WD only.

Thirsty V8s aren’t the only power units on the agenda. The Cayenne SUV hybrid is ready to go on sale next year, with a petrol-electric version of the Panamera following closely behind. As the new 928 shares the latter’s platform, it’s sure to get the hybrid drivetrain, too.

An Audi S4-sourced 369bhp 3.0-litre supercharged V6, coupled to a 38kW electric motor, will give the hybrid 928 fuel economy that breaks the 30mpg barrier. That will make it the most frugal petrol-powered Porsche ever, while still providing hair-raising performance.

The 928 will slot into Porsche’s pricing line-up somewhere between the 911 and Panamera. The four-door ranges from £70,000-£95,000, while the 911 starts a little lower, at just over £60,000, but stretches to £128,000 for the GT2.

With this is mind, expect the 928 to be pitched between £65,000 and £90,000 – enough to safely undercut its Ferrari and Aston rivals when it goes on sale in 2012.

Porsche 918 Hybrid driven

Porsche 918 Hybrid

We sample the world’s greenest, meanest, most eagerly awaited supercar!

Porsche stunned everyone when it introduced the hybrid 918 Spyder at theGeneva Motor Showearlier this year, but nobody has been able to experience the eco-friendly hypercar first hand… until now.

We were invited by Porsche to take a world exclusive passenger ride in its latest concept, and jumped at the opportunity – as the 918 Spyder is more than just a jaw-dropping show car. Following overwhelming public reaction, bosses have given it

the green light for production.

Our drive didn’t get off to the most exciting start. Prioritising the car’s eco credentials, Porsche chose to show off the electric-only mode first. And while the range of 16 emissions-free miles is a very impressive trick for a performance car, from the passenger seat, it’s not the most spectacular experience.

In fact, the whining sound from the electric motors is rather uninspiring.

Factor in the on-board petrol engine, however, and things start to get a whole lot more exciting. The mid-mounted 493bhp 3.4-litre V8 comes from the company’s Spyder race car, although the red line is dropped from 11,000rpm to 9,200rpm
to ensure better reliability.

Three electric motors – two on the front axle, one at the rear – add 215bhp, while power is fed to the wheels through a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox.

The results are astonishing.

With its total output of 718bhp and 1,490kg kerbweight – thanks largely to using the Carrera GT’s carbon tub – the car sprints from 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and hits a 198mph top speed. Computer simulations have also calculated that it would be able to lap the Nürburgring in under seven-and-a-half minutes – faster than the V10-powered Carrera GT.

But the truly remarkable figures are the combined fuel economy of 94mpg and CO2 emissions of 70g/km. Four driving modes – E-Drive (electric), Hybrid, Sport and Race – help strike a balance between flat-out performance and maximum efficiency.

While we didn’t get the chance to verify these figures, our brief encounter was certainly thrilling. The V8 fires up with a deafening roar from the side-exit exhausts, and there’s a frightening surge of acceleration with every prod of the throttle. It could be up to four years before customers have the finished product on their driveways – engineers estimate the development cost for this car is 10 times higher than for the Carrera GT. However, a model with such monstrous pace and angelic emissions should be well worth the wait.