February 10, 2014 — Porsche’s 918 Spyder demonstrates the potential of a plug-in hybrid to a degree never seen before. Utilising state-of-the-art motorsport technologies, it combines the dynamic performance of a super car with low fuel consumption.
February 10, 2014. Copyright 2014, Graphic News. All rights reserved
Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid is fast and frugal
By Neil Winton
LONDON, February 7, Graphic News: Porsche’s new 918 Spyder supercar means you can have your cake and eat it, as long as you can afford some very expensive ingredients.
The Porsche 918 Spyder is not only faster than the average Ferrari, but this plug-in hybrid is more frugal than a famous fuel-sipper like the Toyota Prius, thanks to the combination of a 608hp, V8 petrol engine, and two electric motors which power the front and rear wheels and provide a total of 286hp. The 4.6 litre V8 powers the rear wheels.
And as befits a car which sets all kinds of superlatives, it will set you back close to 620,000 euros ($845,000) for the base model. Add on a few extra goodies and the price will zoom through $1 million.
Performance figures are astonishing for this fastest ever road-going Porsche. It holds the lap record as the quickest road car around the Nurburgring Nordsschleife, of six minutes 57 seconds. Even without help from the V8 engine, the electric motors alone propel the car from rest to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds. Together, they propel the car from a standing start to 100km/h (62mph) in 2.6 seconds.
It’s also kind to the planet. Porsche claims the 918 Spyder will average 3.1-l/100 km (91.1mpg), and travel between 16-32km (10-20 miles) just on battery power. Porsche isn’t investing in this high-technology just to show how green it is. Fuel economy is a matter of life and death for all makers of high-performance cars because European Union rules are forcing car manufacturers to produce ever more frugal vehicles. If they don’t, they will face bankruptcy. In Europe, regulations call for a 5.5-l/km (51.7mpg) fleet average by 2015, and close to 3.9-l/km (72mpg) by 2021.
Porsche has turned to every high-tech trick in the book to save fuel and make the car safe to drive. The 918 Spyder has a carbon fibre body. It has rear-wheel steering and much computer power to keep the use of fuel as efficient as possible, and prevent the driver from losing control. You won’t have to bother with gear-changing, the seven speed automatic takes care of that, in the most economic way possible, until you put your foot down. The hybrid electric power can be recharged by plugging it in to your house, or by using the car’s momentum as it freewheels to recharge the lithium-ion batteries. The roof can be removed if you want a temporary convertible. The cockpit looks a bit short on space. Like a Prius, the car starts in electric mode and moves away silently. But the V8 petrol motor, mounted behind the driver in the centre of the car, will soon kick in and shatter the silence.
Porsche is proud of surmounting seemingly conflicting aims to produce a frugal sports car.
“The 918 Spyder fulfils its claim of being capable of setting records for top racing drivers, while at the same time being an uncomplicated sports car for day-to-day use,” the company said.
It depends really on what you mean by “uncomplicated”.
The car is on sale now in Europe and the United States.
Porsche 918 Spyder
Engine – 4.6 litre V8 petrol
Power – 608hp @ 8,700rpm
Two electric motors – 286hp total @ 6,500
Max torque 1,280 Nm / 917-lb-ft
Electric-only range – up to 32km / 20 miles
Drive – four-wheels
Gearbox – seven-speed automatic
Acceleration – 0-62mph / 100km/h – 2.6 seconds
Top Speed – 214mph / 345km/h (electric only 150km/h)
Fuel consumption – claimed combined – 91.1mpg / 3.1-l/100 km
C02 – 72g/km
Electric range – 10-20 miles / 16-32km
Suspension – double wishbone/multi-link
Warranty – 4 years (battery 7 years)
Length – 4,643mm
Width – 1,940mm
Height – 1,167mm
Wheelbase – 2,730mm
Weight – 1,674kg
Boot capacity – 110 litres
Competition – LaFerrari, Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe electric drive, McLaren P1
Price from 620,000 euros