After debuting at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show to industry-wide acclaim, the sleek and shining Porsche 918 Spdyer was unleashed to the public through the exhilarating words of enthused automotive journalists.
At 177 total inches, with voluptuous aluminum plastered to a magnesium and aluminum frame with a monocoque construction, the 918 Spyder is the pure definition of automotive beauty.
But rather than a regular gas-swilling supercar rocketing around a racetrack, this independent vehicle proudly defies conventionality. The 918 Spyder shares a power plant normally reserved for “family-friendly” and “value-minded” vehicles. It is a hybrid.
Gear freaks love the 500-hp, 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch manual gearbox. The astronomical 9,200 RPM maximum only inflames the passion. But the love affair does not end with mere crankshafts and pistons. In the trunk rests lithium-ion battery pack, weighing less than 100kg, that connects to three electric motors. The plug-in batteries take two hours to recharge with a phase three generator. This exposition of green muscle lowers carbon dioxide emission to 70g/km. Coupled with four-wheel drive, the 918 Spyder more than matches conventional race cars. But let the numbers speak for themselves.
78 miles per gallon. That is the 918 Spyder’s mpg, as estimated by the European Cycle (typically higher than U.S. EPA estimates). On pure electricity alone, the 918 Spyder can allegedly travel for sixteen miles. What could be more impressive? The 3.2 seconds it takes for the Porsche 918 Spyder to dash to 62-mph. A few more seconds and it tops out at 198 mph. This proves company chairman Michael Macht's statement: “It provides an emphatic answer to whether there can be high-performance supercars in the future. Many have said they are finished. This car shows they are not.”
In line with its green muscle priorities, the 918 Spyder offers four driving modes: all-electric E-drive; Hybrid, which is appropriate for daily commuting; Sport Hybrid, which utilizes both powertrains but focuses on performance; and Racing Hybrid, which focuses on nothing but fast. There is a feature called, “E-boost,” which provides a boost of electric power. Regenerative braking is included. Porsche even adds a range extender, which gives information on fuel efficiency, powertrain performance and trip computation.
What does the future hold for the Porsche 918 Spyder? “There is no one inside Porsche who doesn't want to build this car,” says Macht, who slyly notes that Porsche has never built a concept car that did not eventually become a production-series vehicle. With already 900 interested buyers, Porsche’s development chief, Wolfgang Duerheimer, noted, “I’m confident that we will soon reach the threshold of 1,000. We need 1,000 seriously interested people to make a sound business case.”
Add one more to the list, Mr. Duerheimer.