The 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder will prove that hybrids and ultra high-performance motoring are not mutually exclusive.
Blistering horsepower and acceleration; capable of returning 80 mpg; no more hybrid jokes.
Unless you're a wealthy comedian, talk-show host or oil baron, you're probably not getting one.
The 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder is an all-new model.
Can a hybrid be a supercar? Or vice-versa? Porsche will soon give us an answer. The 2014 Porsche 918 promises to pick up where its predecessor, the Carrera GT, left off. Notably, the 918 will do so with a gasoline/electric powertrain capable of nearly 800 horsepower. It will sprint to 60 mph in about the cycle of a single breath.
The 918 Spyder starts with a one-piece carbon-fiber-reinforced body and frame, covering a 4.6-liter V8 engine mounted behind the cabin. Porsche says it's an entirely new engine with new crankcase and cylinder head design, and lightweight components, capable of delivering 608 horsepower at up to 9,150 rpm. It drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. Two additional electric motors -- one for the rear wheels and one for the front wheels -- provide another 281 hp.
That's a total powertrain output of nearly 900 hp and 940 pound-feet of torque in a package that weighs less than a BMW 5 Series sedan. That should be enough to propel the 918 from zero to 62 in 2.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 211 mph.
Should you still want for a greater performance edge, Porsche will offer an optional Weissach package, which reduces weight by about 77 pounds by stripping some sound insulation, using Alcantara instead of leather for some interior parts, and using magnesium wheels and a carbon-fiber roof and rear wings.
The 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder will be able to operate solely on gas or electricity, or some combination of both. On electrons alone, it can cover 18 miles at speeds of up to 93 mph.
Five driving modes give 918 owners additional control over consumption. "E-Power" mode is fully electric, but kicks on the gas engine if the battery charge falls below a specified amount. "Hybrid" is what it sounds like: both gas engine and electric motors providing the push. "Sport Hybrid" mode prioritizes the gas engine and enlists the electric motors when the driver asks for more power. "Race Hybrid" does much of the same, but allows the battery charge to fluctuate for peak power. Finally, "Hot Lap" is a sub-mode of Race Hybrid and unleashes all of the battery's remaining power for a few fast laps.
Kinetic energy reclaimed during braking will be stored in the 918's liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, but owners will also be able to plug in the 918 to their local power supply. Porsche claims recharging times ranging from 2-6 hours.
Although primarily rear-wheel drive, the 918 Spyder is capable of all-wheel drive depending on which engine/electric motor combination is active. At 146 mph or above, however, electric drive to the front wheels is disengaged to improve high-speed stability.
Unlike the Carrera GT, which used a racecar-like pushrod suspension setup, the 918 Spyder will feature a more conventional front wishbone/rear multilink suspension. The 918 will also feature an adaptive suspension and electrically assisted steering. Porsche purists bemoaned the arrival of electric-assist on the 911, but the new system's quickness and transparency have largely silenced the critics. The 918's system will also provide a small degree of steering angle to the rear wheels, reducing the turning circle at low speeds.
Porsche's stated goal with the 918 Spyder is to redefine driving fun, efficiency and performance. Only oil and Internet tycoons are likely to enjoy this redefinition, though. Porsche plans to start production of the 918 Spyder -- limited to 918 units, naturally -- in September 2013. Projected price is $850,000.
Check back for more information on the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder as it becomes available.
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