Swabian rocket science
The second car of Autobau I want to show you is the Porsche 918 Spyder. A supercar like the prancing horse I reported about earlier. Unlike the Ferrari LaFerrari supercar this is a Porsche, a seriously engineered piece of German craftsmanship. The 918 Spyder is taking the reigns of the Carrera GT. After its discontinuation in 2007, Porsche supercar aficionados had to wait six years before the production version of the latest iteration was presented at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.
Unsurprisingly, the 918 is instantly recognizable as a Porsche. The front part actually looks very similar to the famous 1970’s 917 race car of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even though every brand has their own trade marks, their own visual styling queues, the Weissach supercar shares the same type of architecture as the LaFerrari; a carbon fiber monocoque. Yes, there is a front splitter on either side, big air intakes in the front, following air outlets just behind the front wheels. And yes, there is a big rear spoiler and a rear diffusor to keep the massive 21″ Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 wheels on the tarmac, but it doesn’t look as wild as a Pagani or as brutal as a Noble. Long story short, just as in traditional Porsche fashion, the attention to details they have given to it, make the functionality and efficiency look gorgeous.
Under the skin
The 4.6 litre V8 engine mounted between the seats and the rear axle produces 608 hp and 528 Nm of torque. Being a hybrid, it’s completed with a 125 hp electric motor in the front, as well as a 154 hp electric motor in the back. The latter one is coupled to the V8, giving it a total of 887 hp. Porsche claims it can do 0 – 100 km/h in just 2.6 s and reach a top speed of 345 km/h – just a little bit slower than the Ferrari LaFerrari. But than bear in mind that it shows 1’634 kg on the scales. For those of you who are interested in finding out which is faster, why don’t you take a look on what the illustrious Chris Harris has to say about them.
The transmission is a seven speed dual-clutch item, or as Porsche say: PDK, meaning Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (Porsche double clutch transmission). 🙂 The battery that powers the two electric motors is a 6.8 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery installed behind the cockpit. As you can see in the picture above, it is a plug-in hybrid, but the batteries are also charged by regenerative braking or of course by the V8 engine itself. What makes the 918 Spyder special is the fact that it can run on electric power only. This distinguishes it from the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) that regenerates just as well but only stores the electricity to assist the gasoline powered engine when it needs that extra boost.
Inside the cockpit
In a supercar I think it’s save to say that the cabin is not just a cabin but a cockpit, a place where every detail has been thought trough to make the driving experience as precise and thrilling as it can be. The 918 Spyder is no exception on that matter. Believe or not, the most important feature of this car is the little switch positioned on the steering wheel, allowing the driver, or shall I say pilot, to switch between four different driving modes that radically transform the car’s personality:
- E-Power: This is the default mode of the car upon firing it up. When fully charged, it can drive up to 31 km on electric power only and reach a top speed of 150 km/h. The gasoline powered V8 only kicks in when needed.
- Hybrid: In this mode the car uses both, gasoline engine and electric motors to drive as fuel efficiently as possible.
- Sport-Hybrid: In the sport mode, the gasoline engine is always on. The electric motors are only punctually used to give the car some extra boost.
- Race-Hybrid: This is basically a more performance oriented mode of the sport-hybrid mode: More boost, the batteries are charged faster and the gear changes are quicker.
That’s the ticket
What about the price? 847’000 $. Sure, a lot of green bills, but still a lot less than the Ferrari LaFerrari (I daren’t use the word cheap^^), but then Porsche also made a total of 918 of them and by December 2014 every single one of them was sold out.