The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder is nothing less than the plug-in hybrid supercar of tomorrow, available today.
That's because the 918 Spyder's front and rear electric motors can propel it up to 93 mph on battery power alone. At the opposite end of the performance spectrum, when the 918's 4.6-liter V8 comes roaring to life, this Porsche will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in an astonishing 2.6 seconds and top out at a dizzying 214 mph. Impressive performance numbers to be sure, but maybe not all that surprising when you consider that the combined output of these three power sources amounts to 887 hp, just waiting for a liberal application of your right foot.
Of course, any car wearing the Porsche badge is about more than straight-line speed. The 918's handling is equally impressive, thanks in part to the engineers' decision to place the heaviest powertrain components below the car's horizontal centerline to give it an extremely low center of gravity. Add a combination of a racecar-style carbon-fiber chassis, a sophisticated adaptive suspension, communicative electromechanical steering of both the front and rear wheels, massive tires and carbon-ceramic brakes and you have a car that's supremely easy to drive ridiculously fast.
The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder is a two-seat luxury sports car with a two-piece removable roof that's offered in a single well-equipped trim level.
Features include 20-inch front and 21-inch rear alloy wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, an adaptive suspension, automatic LED headlights, an automatic windshield wiper, heated mirrors, automatically adaptive aerodynamic body panels, dual-zone automatic climate control, carbon-fiber sport seats (power driver height adjustment, manual fore/aft), full leather interior trim, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, a trip computer, a 7-inch touchscreen interface, a rearview camera, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an 11-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system with two USB ports, satellite radio, HD radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
The mid engine 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 that puts out 608 hp and 398 pound-feet of torque. It is paired with a 129-hp front electric motor and a 156-hp rear electric motor, both supplied by a 6.8-kWh lithium-ion battery. Total powertrain output is a staggering 887 hp and 944 lb-ft of torque.
A seven-speed PDK automated manual is the only transmission offered. This sophisticated gearbox can shunt power to the front wheels, the rear wheels or all four, depending on conditions and five driver-selectable powertrain mode settings chosen by a rotary dial located on the steering wheel.
These include Electric, where battery power alone drives just the front wheels under light loads. Hybrid mode calls up power from both the electric motors and gasoline engine and sends it to all four wheels, though in a more relaxed state of tune suitable for everyday driving. Dialing up Sport mode also utilizes all power sources, but sharpens throttle response, steering and transmission settings for a decidedly snappier feel.
Race mode takes those improvements to the next level, and makes all 887 hp available. The final setting, called Hot Lap, is designed for use on a racetrack, as it allows the electric motors to run the car's battery pack down beyond normal limits, relaxes stability control settings and sends more torque to the front wheels for improved cornering.
For a car with this level of performance, the 918 Spyder gets impressive EPA fuel economy ratings of 67 MPGe (miles-per-gallon-equivalent) in all-electric mode, and a still respectable 22 mpg on gasoline. The EPA also estimates it can go 12 miles on electricity alone, although that's based on normal driving. Porsche claims recharging the plug-in hybrid's lithium-ion battery pack should take roughly 2.5 hours on a 220-volt home charger.
Safety features on the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder include anti lock carbon-ceramic brakes, stability and traction control, seat-mounted thorax-protecting side airbags and door-mounted head-protecting side airbags.
With five driving modes to choose from, the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder exhibits a distinctly changeable personality. Turn the key in its default all-electric mode and the 918 is ready to cover up to 18 miles in eerie quiet, with the only sounds coming from the wind rushing over the roof and occasional pebbles shed by the massive tires ticking in the fender wells. Mash on the accelerator pedal, however, and the electrons start flying as the front and rear electric motors respond instantly with an entertaining turbine-like whine reminiscent. In terms of performance, those electric motors will take you to a top speed of 93 mph before the gasoline V8 kicks in. In this respect, the experience is a lot like driving any other gasoline-electric hybrid, albeit an insanely fast one. Turning the round knurled knob beneath the right-hand spoke of the steering wheel engages Hybrid mode, which is the most practical setup for everyday driving, as it brings both electric motors and the gasoline engine online, alternately, depending on driving situation. Unlike other hybrids, however, there's no mistaking the moment that this gasoline V8 fires up, thanks to the loud and angry exhaust note that billows from the twin titanium exhausts located atop the rear deck, just inches behind your shoulders. While this mode is still rather sedate by the 918 Spyder's standards, the eager anticipation of things to come it creates is inescapable. Turn the black knurled knob one more notch to engage Sport Hybrid mode. Here the big V8 and electric motors begin working together to propel this 3,700-pound bundle of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic with a still greater degree of urgency. Throttle response and steering feel both get noticeably sharper in this mode as well. For purists who've expressed some concerns over the latter, the electromechanical setup is exceptionally well tuned and feels both precise and nicely weighted. Twist that knob one more time to select Race mode and the powertrain springs to life with all 887 hp at your command. Laying into the accelerator pedal now brings a full-on wail from behind your head that makes the 918 Spyder sound like the road-going racecar it is. Pushing the red center button in this mode calls up the Hot Lap feature that gives you everything the car's got from both the electric and gasoline motors in case you find yourself ever needing to qualify for pole position. Above 165 mph, the front electric motor decouples as the scenery blurs and the car rockets to its claimed top speed of 214 mph.
As you'd expect in Porsche's flagship sports car, the cockpit is designed to be very driver-oriented. Three analog gauges, including a large center-mounted tachometer, display important info with a quick glance. The steering-wheel-mounted drive mode switch and other driving-related controls are placed within easy reach. Carbon-fiber seats feature significant side bolsters for enhanced support in aggressive driving, and only differ from the optional racing seats in the firmness of the side bolster padding. In other words, this is a car that puts the driver first.
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