What's New for 2014
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 precursor, 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. It'll also return up to 80 mpg, Porsche says.
The 918 Spyder starts with a one-piece carbon-fiber body, 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 more than 570 hp. 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 218 hp.
Porsche says total powertrain output should reach about 770 hp and 568 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel the 918 from zero to 60 mph in about 3 seconds and on to a top speed of 200 mph.
The 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder will be able to operate solely on gas or electricity, or some combination of both. On electrons alone, it should cover 16 miles at speeds of up to 93 mph. And with a light foot, the 918 will return a claimed 80 mpg on the European fuel economy test cycle. But what fun is that? Porsche says that even when driven hard, the 918 can achieve more than 30 mpg.
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.