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The Porsche 918 Spyder is the first in a new wave of eco-conscious supercars. Some even call them hypercars, due to their combination of incredible power and hybrid efficiency. Whatever you call it, however, the Porsche 918 Spyder is sure to impress on the basis of its looks alone.
Styled in the vein of the Carrera GT supercar, the 918 Spyder draws on the best of Porsche's heritage, while keeping both eyes firmly on the present and future. A low-slung stance wrapped in smooth, flowing curves gives the 918 an organic look, while at the same time speaking of its performance potential through muscular fenders and snarling air inlets. Inside, the 918 Spyder is not so different from more attainable Porsche products, with a clearly driver-focused interface and clean, industrial lines. A large, floating, capacitive center stack sets the 918 apart as something more than the usual.
And more than the usual is indeed the story when it comes to the 918 Spyder's drivetrain. Instead of a massive, powerful engine, the 918 uses a combination of a compact and potent 4.6-liter V-8 engine rated at 608 horsepower with a hybrid electric drive system that brings total output to 887 horsepower and 940 pound-feet of torque. Two electric motors are used, one for the front axle and one for the rear; the front axle can drive the Spyder on electric power alone, or contribute to the engine and rear motor's output for a through-the-road hybrid setup. The 918 is a plug-in hybrid, allowing the battery to reach full charge in less than seven hours from a standard 110-volt household socket, or in less than 30 minutes with the optional DC fast charger on an industrial circuit.
In total, five drive modes are available through the steering wheel controls: E-Power, Hybrid, Sport Hybrid, Race Hybrid, and Hot Lap. E-Power mode uses only electricity to power the car, with a range of about 18 miles from its 6.8-kilowatt-hour battery. Even in this limited mode, the 918 Spyder can reach 93 mph top speed and accelerate to 62 mph in about seven seconds. Hybrid and Sport Hybrid modes each provide a degree of mixed propulsion, with economy and sportiness in a progressively more aggressive balance. Race Hybrid mode pushes both the electric drive system and the V-8 engine to maximum capacity, yielding impressive performance. For maximum velocity, however, Hot Lap mode takes the 918 to its extremes, eliminating the recharge cycle on the battery to put the most power possible to the wheels. As the name indicates, Hot Lap mode is only suited to brief runs for top times.
Porsche says the 918 Spyder's Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time is currently at 7 minutes, 14 seconds, but believes it could go faster. Even so, the 918 Spyder is in a very exclusive group under the 7:20 mark. Top speed in its most intense mode is greater than 211 mph, says Porsche, and the 918 can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 2.8 seconds. A seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission sends power to the rear axle; the forward electric motor drives the front wheels at a fixed ratio.
Despite its high-tech drivetrain and abundant equipment, the 918 Spyder weighs in at 3,715 pounds in standard trim, or as little as 3,616 pounds with the optional Weissach package. A carbon fiber reinforced polymer primary structure and extensive use of aluminum and composites throughout the vehicle help the Spyder keep its weight low. Weight distribution--a key attribute in determining handling balance--sits at 57 percent on the rear axle and 43 percent on the front. The 918 Spyder's center of gravity is approximately at the height of the wheel hubs, which should make for truly impressive traction with minimal body roll.
Only 918 examples of the Porsche 918 Spyder will be built for customer purchase, and at a starting price of $845,000, it will be a very exclusive super sports car. The production version of the 918 Spyder was unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt auto show, and is on sale now, with first deliveries in the U.S. expected in early 2014.
- Stunning styling
- Efficient hybrid and electric modes
- Incredible performance
- Advanced technology
- Exorbitant price tag
- Heavier than expected
- Extremely limited availability