Porsche 918: Sexy. Rocket. Science.

After the successful launch of the Carrera GT supercar, Porsche has been painstakingly been working on the successor, call the 918 Spyder. Packed with motor racing technology, Porsche wants the new 918 to be easy to drive everyday, but embody maximum performance with the most minimum consumption of fuel. To do this and meet ever demanding emissions worldwide, the development team was to create a powerplant with an efficient yet powerful hybrid drive. The super sports car was developed from scratch with a blank piece of white paper, which allowed the team to come up with an entirely new car, designed totally around the new hybrid drive.

The 918 Spyder motorsport technology has been designed, developed and produced by Porsche’s racing engineers. As an example, the monocoque and subframe are both made of carbon fibre reinforced polymer, which add to its high-strength, lightweight construction.

A unique all-wheel drive combination was chosen that marries the combustion engine and electric motors on the front and rear axles. This knowledge came from Porsche’s experience with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid in motor racing. Included is the advanced “boost” strategy that manages the energy of the electric drive intelligently so that full power of the 918 Spyder can be tapped into simply pressing the accelerator fully down, allowing for maximum acceleration at any time. What is more impressive is that on September 10, 2013, the Porsche 918 Spyder set a record on the 20.6-kilometre lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife with a 6 minutes and 57 second time. Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche AG Board of Management, Research and Development, said: “We promised a great deal with the 918 Spyder, namely to redefine driving pleasure, efficiency and performance. We have kept our word.” The 918 Spyder is over 20 seconds quicker than the late Porsche Carrera GT. Even more impressive is that the 918 has a combined fuel consumption of 3.3–3.0 l/100 km; combined energy consumption: 12.5–13.0 kWh/100 km; and CO2 emissions: 79–70 g/km.

The main source of power comes from a 4.6-litre, 8 cylinder engine that produces 608 horsepower. To conserve weight, Porsche used components made of carbon fibre reinforced polymer such as the oil tank, the air induction, and air filter box. Weight and performance optimizations have been maximized to achieve a power output of approximately 132 hp/l, which happens to be the highest power output per litre of any naturally aspirated Porsche engine. Compare that with the Carrera GT’s 106 hp/l, the 918 Spyder is a significant improvement.

In the 918, Porsche has introduced a new system called Porsche Active Aerodynamic (PAA). PAA allows the driver to choose from ‘five modes for three motors’ or from ‘comfortable to race-ready’, depending on the driving style or situation. The 918 Spyder’s power it split among the three power units (1 Gas, 2 Electric). The three units are controlled by an intelligent management system. Porsche developers have defined five operating modes that can be activated via a “map switch” on the steering wheel. This ability to pre-select a mode will allow the 918 Spyder to automatically apply the most suitable ‘operating and boost strategy’ without driver intervention, thus allowing the driver to concentrate fully on the task at hand.

 Mode 1 – Quiet and elegant: “E-Power”

The “E-Power” mode is the default operating mode on start up, as long as the battery is sufficiently charged. The 918 Spyder can cover over 30 kilometres on purely electric power in ideal situations. Just in pure electric mode, the 918 Spyder can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds and can reach speeds of up to 150 km/h.


Mode 2 – Efficient and comfortable: “Hybrid”

In “Hybrid” mode the electric motors and combustion engine work in tandem to provide maximum efficiency and minimum fuel consumption. The Hybrid mode would be typically used for achieving the best fuel economy.


Mode 3 – Sporty and dynamic: “Sport Hybrid”

For more spirited driving, the “Sport Hybrid” mode would be chosen for its increased use of all three power sources. The combustion engine would now operate continuously and would provide the main propulsive force with the electric motors providing boosting or when the ‘operating point of the combustion engine can be optimized for greater efficiency’.


Mode 4 – For fast laps: “Race Hybrid”

“Race Hybrid” is the mode for maximum performance. The combustion engine is used to its maximum, and charges the battery when the driver is not utilizing its peak output. The electric motors would continue to provide boosting. The gear-shifting programme is set up for sport driving.


Mode 5 – For pole position: “Hot Lap”

The “Hot Lap” button in the middle of the map switch releases all the final reserves of the 918 Spyder and can only be activated in “Race Hybrid” mode. This pushes the traction battery to its maximum power output limits for a few fast laps and uses all of the available energy in the battery.


With a limit of only 918 units being made available and with a price tag on $845,000 USD, we should see 1 of 3 on order in Canada this far, some time in the summer of 2014.

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