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2014 Porsche 918 Spyder @ Autobau

Swabian rocket science

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

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.

Outside

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

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

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

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.

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Hybrid: In this mode the car uses both, gasoline engine and electric motors to drive as fuel efficiently as possible.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder

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.

2014 Ferrari LaFerrari @ Autobau

Supercar pickup

2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

Let’s start the Autobau tour with the Ferrari LaFerrari. Many have found it odd to repeat the brand name in the model name and wondered why they didn’t actually name after its project name, the F150. Well, they couldn’t officially name it F150 because Ford has the name rights for that – ever heard of the F150 Pickup truck?! 😉 Anyway, it’s the latest hypercar to come out of Maranello’s factory and replaces the legendary Enzo.

Outside

This exact one is all red as you can see, as opposed to some press cars that have a black roof – classic Ferrari. There are massive air intakes in the front and gills in the hood to give it better downforce. In fact the whole car looks like it’s been shaped by the wind – which it certainly has – in the wind tunnel. The rear view mirrors are pretty far up and away from the side windows, but then the windows are more in the core of the car, instead of being part of the lateral edge.

Under the skin

6.3 litre V12 engine, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
6.3 litre V12 engine, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

The engine is a mid-rear mounted Ferrari V12 with a 6.3 litre displacement producing 800 hp and 700 Nm of torque. Combined with the 163 hp electric motor it reaches a maximum power of 963 hp! Thanks to the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) it manages to store electric energy under braking and storing it in batteries so that it can be used for acceleration. It is the first hybrid Ferrari. You get extra torque while boosting out of a corner and have the power of the engine as it’s revved up.

Charge plug, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Charge plug, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

The rear-wheel drive prancing horse goes from 0-100 km/h in under 3 s, 0-200 km/h in under 7 s, 0-300 km/h in under 15 s and reaches its top speed at over 350 km/h (186 mph). So there we have a car that has a seven speed dual-clutch transmission and is just 37 hp shy of a 1’000 hp! That is not just impressive when you put it into relation with its 1’365 kg dry weight. This is impressive full stop.

Brembo carbon brakes, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Brembo carbon brakes, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

All that make the LaFerrari go like hell! But as Pirelli’s famous slogan stipulates: “power is nothing without control”, the LaFerrari too needs an adaptive rear diffusor that goes up when you hit the carbon brakes before cornering and goes down again upon acceleration in order to constantly have the best grip on the road. I haven’t even mentioned the automatic rear spoiler to further increase the handling performance. In classic Ferrari style, the trunk is made of glass so you can admire the potent and beautiful V12 engine. If you take a close look at the upper right side, you can see a typical 21st century technology item: a charge plug for the hybrid system.

  Inside the cockpit

Monocoque, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Monocoque, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

Inside, well, being part of a private collection it is locked, so there is no way they’d let me in. But I can say this: There are no conventional seats. The driver and the passenger sit directly on the floor itself. In other words, Ferrari just stuck a few pads onto the carbon fiber monocoque and named the result “seats”. Since they cannot be adjusted, the pedal box and steering wheel positions can in order to have an optimal driving position. Most of the inside is made of carbon and the steering wheel is square, which somehow makes it special and more Formula One-like.

That’s the ticket

Price: 1.69 million $ and you have to have owned several other Ferraris before just to be allowed to purchase one. Ferrari made 499 of them. Why did they stop at 499? As Enzo Ferrari used to say: “Always sell one car less than the market demands and maintain the value”. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Exhaust pipes & rear diffusor, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Exhaust pipes & rear diffusor, 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

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