Super Fast & Super Efficient: 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder

Who said ultra high performance and amazing economy can’t co-exist in the same vehicle? The 918 Spyder embodies the essence of the Porsche idea: it combines pedigree motor racing technology with excellent everyday utility, and maximum performance with minimum consumption. The task faced by the development team was to create the super sports car for the next decade with a highly efficient and powerful hybrid drive.

Developing the car from scratch, appropriately beginning with a sheet of white paper, allowed the team to come up with a no-compromise concept. The entire car was designed around the hybrid drive. The 918 Spyder therefore demonstrates the potential of the hybrid drive to a degree never seen before: the parallel improvement of both efficiency and performance without one being at the cost of the other.

The 918 Spyder reveals its close links to motorsport in a variety of ways. It has been designed, developed and produced by Porsche engineers who build race cars, in cooperation with series production specialists. A great deal of insight gained from the development of Porsche race cars for the 24 hours race in Le Mans in 2014 is thus integrated into the 918 Spyder – and vice versa. The structural concept of the 918 Spyder with a rolling chassis as its basis – a basic vehicle that can be driven even without a body – is race car tradition at Porsche. The concept of the V8 engine originates from the LMP2 RS Spyder race car.

A key message of the 918 Spyder is that the hybrid drive from Porsche is a plus for no-compromise driving dynamics. Drivers can experience this thanks to the unique all-wheel drive concept with a combination of a powerful 4.6L V8 gasoline engine and two permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motors – one on each axle. Due to the additional, individually controllable front drive, new driving strategies for extremely high, safe cornering speeds can be implemented.

The core of the 918 Spyder concept is its distribution of propulsive power among the three power units as controlled by an intelligent management system. To best exploit these different approaches, the Porsche developers defined four driving modes that can be activated via a “map switch” on the steering wheel, just like in motorsport cars. On the basis of this pre-selection, the 918 Spyder applies the most suitable operating and boost strategy without driver intervention, thus allowing the driver to concentrate fully on the road.

In ideal conditions, the 918 Spyder can cover approximately 19 miles on purely electric power. Even in pure electric mode, the 918 Spyder accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds and can reach speeds up to 93 mph. If the battery’s charge state drops below a set minimum value, the vehicle automatically switches to hybrid mode.

The red “Hot Lap” button in the middle of the map switch releases the final reserves of the 918 Spyder and can only be activated in “Race Hybrid” mode. Similar to a qualification mode, this pushes the hybrid battery to its maximum power output limits for a few fast laps. This mode uses all of the available energy in the battery. The 918 Spyder’s load-bearing structures, the monocoque and subframe, are made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer. Porsche has many years of experience with this high-strength, lightweight construction material. The multi-link chassis of the Porsche 918 Spyder is inspired by motorsport design, complemented by additional systems such as the PASM adaptive shock-absorber system and rear-axle steering.

Basically, the rear-axle steering system incorporates an electro-mechanical adjustment system at each rear wheel. The adjustment is speed-sensitive and
executes steering angles of up to three degrees in each direction. The rear axle can therefore be steered in the same direction as the front wheels or in opposition to them. At low speeds, the system steers the rear wheels in a direction opposite to that of the front wheels. This makes cornering even more direct, faster and more precise, and it reduces the turning circle. At higher speeds, the system steers the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels. This significantly improves the stability of the rear end when changing lanes quickly. The result is very secure and stable handling.

Dimensions & specifications 
Wheelbase: 107.5; overall length: 182.9; width: 76.4; height: 45.9
All vehicle measurements are in inches.

Engine: 4.6L V8 – 608 hp at 8,700 rpm and 398 lbs-ft of torque at 6,700 rpm; electric motor/rear axle – 156 hp; electric motor/front axle – 129 hp; high performance lithium battery – 230 kW maximum power.
Transmission: 7-speed PDK
EPA Fuel Economy: 67 MPGe

MSRP: $845,000. Destination charges add $2,975.

Ken Chester, Jr. is President & CEO of Motor News Media Corporation – an automotive news service founded in 1989 as The AutoBuyer Plus Corporation. Featured on numerous television and radio programs, viewers, listeners and readers alike relate to Ken's friendly manner and wealth of information about the many vehicles currently for sale in today's complex automotive marketplace.

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