The Porsche 918 Spyder has bowed in Frankfurt, where it is finally shown in full production trim after years of previews and teasers. Amazingly, the real thing has stayed largely true to the first 918 Spyder Concept that debuted in Geneva 2010, right down to the same wheel design.
Porsche claims to have achieved a breakthrough in super sports car design. The 918 Spyder is said to be suitable for everyday use, yet offers impressive dynamic performance combined with the fuel consumption that betters most compact cars.
The production Porsche 918 Spyder (with a removable Targa roof) combines pedigree motor racing technology with everyday suitability, and maximum performance with minimum consumption, forming the company’s genetic blueprint for the future.
Porsche is quick to draw a pretty picture of how the 918 has been greatly influenced by its affiliations with motorsport. A number of the developments on the upcoming Porsche LMP1 race car were used in the 918 Spyder – and vice versa. The V8 engine is based on that of the LMP2 race car, the RS Spyder, and the supporting monocoque structure is made of motorsport-derived carbon-fibre.
The main drive source is a 4.6 litre V8 engine with 608 hp, which rev up to 9,150 rpm. At 132 hp per litre, it has the highest specific power of any naturally aspirated Porsche engine, beating the Carrera GT’s V10 by 26 hp per litre. Unique to it are the ‘top pipes’ – exhausts that terminate directly above the motor through the rear engine cover.
Coupled to engine is a 115 kW parallel hybrid system that runs the rear wheels through a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox. The rear axle can be powered either individually by the combustion engine or the electric motor, or by both motors together.
Despite offering all-wheel drive, the rear setup has no direct mechanical connection to the front wheels. There’s a 95 kW electric motor connected to the fronts that operate independently of the mid-mounted hybrid system.
Drive torque is independently controlled for each axle, creating a very responsive all-wheel drive function with significant potential in terms of traction and dynamic performance. The front motor runs off a fixed gear ratio, which is decoupled beyond 235 km/h.
The two electric motors offer an additional 286 hp, for a total combined output of 887 hp and between 917 to 1,280 Nm or torque (depending on gear). This makes for explosive performance figures: 0-100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 7.7 seconds and 0-300 km/h in 22.0 seconds. Top speed is 345 km/h.
What’s even more impressive is the 918 Spyder’s fuel economy figures. Porsche promises an average fuel consumption of between 29.8 and 32.9 km per litre (3.0-3.3 litres/ per 100 km) on the combined NEDC cycle. CO2 emissions are equally mind-blowing too, at just 70 to 79 grams per kilometre.
All three power units are integrated and controlled via an intelligent management system, and have five operating modes, which can be activated via a switch on the steering wheel. These pre-selected modes apply the most suitable operating and boost strategy without any further intervention from the driver.
Start the car and it defaults to E-Power mode. On electric power alone, the 918 Spyder can get to 100 km/h in under seven seconds, reach a top speed of 150 km/h and cover between 16 to 32 km. It offers virtually silent, emission-free travel of an electric vehicle in this mode.
If the battery runs out, both the motors and combustion engine are used alternately in Hybrid mode, focusing on achieving maximum efficiency and drivability. If more performance is required, the Sport Hybrid mode comes online. The engine now becomes the main propulsive force, with the electric motors providing boosts when necessary.
Go on a race track, and there’s the Race Hybrid mode at your disposal. Both the V8 engine and PDK gearbox are primed for all-out attack in this mode, while the electric motors are used up to the maximum power output limit to deliver the best possible performance.
In contrast to Sport Hybrid mode, the electric motors give it their all for a short period for enhanced boost performance. This increased output is balanced out by the combustion engine pattern that charges the battery more intensively.
While in Race Hybrid mode, a special Hot Lap button can be engaged in the centre of the map switch (watch the video below to see how this works). This releases the final reserves of the 918 Spyder, and pushes the motors to their maximum power output limits for a few fast laps, using all of the available energy in the battery.
Speaking of the battery, it’s a liquid-cooled lithium-ion pack comprising of 312 individual cells. It has a performance-oriented design in terms of both power charging and output to suit the car’s requirements. The global warranty period for the battery is seven years.
It’s also a plug-in system, so you can charge the battery from your main power supply. On German 230 Volt power grid, it can be charged within four hours through the Porsche Universal Charger (AC). A Porsche Speed Charging Station (DC) is available as an option, and will fully charge the high-voltage battery in under 25 minutes.
On the move, the 918 Spyder is complemented by the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive damper system and rear-axle steering, which work on specially designed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres (265/35 ZR 20 for the front axle and 325/30 ZR 21 for the rear axle).
Porsche also offers the Weissach package, with super lightweight magnesium wheels reduce unsprung weight, decreasing the gross weight by around 35 kg. Other additions include six-point harness seat belts, plus additional aerodynamic add-on parts in visible carbon-fibre. Why? Because charging for extras on a 781,155 euro (RM3.386 million) hyper car isn’t a crime.