By Tony West
For those with a love for sports cars but still want to save on fuel costs, the new Porsche 918 Spyder is an exciting hybrid. The 2014 918 Spyder is a 608 horsepower race-inspired whip with a powerful V8 engine and 2 electric motors that add 279 horsepower.
For once, powertrain and a slick design aren’t the most impressive traits on a new Porsche. The lighter Porsche 918 saves 77 lbs with many of its engine components using visible carbon instead of aluminum. And further weight is reduced with the use of magnesium wheels, enhancing an already great performance.
The design of the 2013 Porsche 918 Spyder takes inspiration from production vehicles for last week’s 24-Hour race in Le Mans. One major component is the CFRP monocouque. The rolling chassis is made of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) and can be driven by itself with no body. This makes the 918 Spyder rigid, agile, and near indestructible. CFRP also comprises components like the oil tank, air filter box, air inductions and the entire load bearing structure of the 918 Spyder.
Porsche says that the 2014 918 Spyder is the best manifestation of their goal to combine racing technology with everyday driving- marrying maximum performance with minimum consumption. Advance hybrid technology on a striking new sports car is a great attempt at a harmonious marriage.
The Porsche 918 Spyder takes hybrid technology to a level I never seen before. A 4.6 liter V8 is coupled to the hybrid module. The parallel hybrid all-wheel-drive system is composed of an 115k/ 154 hp electric motor that powers the rear axle and acts as the main generator, and another 93kW/125 hp electric motor that powers the front axle. The engine and total hybrid system has a combined 887 horsepower and 940 lb-ft of torque, 390 lb-ft of torque from the 8-cylinder engine.
The Porsche 918 Spyder has a top speed of 211 mph and 93mph on pure electric, and goes from 0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds (0-62mph in 7 seconds on pure electric). Such staggering powertrain figures make the 918 Spyder one of the most exciting and most efficient new Porsche whips I’ve seen. In addition, aerodynamics is adjusted with 3 drive modes. “Race” mode is when the retractable rear wing is at a steep angle, spoiler extended, and two air flaps opened in the underfloor in the front axle. In “Sport” mode, the rear wing angle is reduced and air flaps closed in the underfloor. And in “E” mode rear wing and spoiler are retracted and underfloor flaps closed.
Along with the aerodynamics system, the Porsche 918 Spyder has 5 driving modes adjustable from the steering wheel which optimize power: E Power, Hybrid, Sport Hybrid, Race Hybrid, and Normal. And there’s a “Hot Lap” button in the middle of the map switch that pushes the battery to its limits for a fast ½ mile or two. A 7-speed PDK dual clutch transmission puts its sportiest rendition in the 2014 918 Spyder. The 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder can run 18 miles on pure electric, and could be charged with a conventional 120 volt home wall unit in 7 hours. Or a universal charger can be installed in the home or garage and charge the 918 Spyder fully in 2 hours.
The leather interior of the Porsche 918 Spyder is designed with race luxury in mind. Standard is leather interior with multifunction controls at the steering wheel, a configurable instrument cluster, infotainment console, and the Burmester sound system. The Weissach Package adds Alcantra to the interior with visible carbon accents.