The biggest automotive concern on the planet could hardly stay out of a hypercar sparring match on the world stage, and with the Porsche 918 Spyder, VAG emphasized its strongest points in the hybrid against LaFerrari and the McLaren P1.
With the engineering might (and budget) of Porsche behind it, and drawing upon the company’s experience of racing hybrids in endurance racing, the 918 Spyder managed to undercut its rivals on price, while providing arguably the most complete road car package of the holy trinity.
Appropriately, 918 examples of the Spyder were promised, with Porsche digging deep into its motorsport knowledge to produce technology that provided world-beating performance, as well as reducing fuel consumption.
(OK, we’re not going to convince you that the 918 Spyder’s hybrid system was entirely geared at saving fuel, but official tests on the New European Driving Cycle, which includes urban, extra-urban and combined driving cycles, rated this hypercar at an impressive 85mpg and 79 g/km of CO2 emissions – actual results with 887hp at your disposal may vary…)
Design, Styling & Interior
With styling cues from Porsche’s racing heritage – including top-exit exhaust pipes that improve the efficiency of heat dispersion from the mid-mounted 4.6-litre V8 (and that this writer thinks are one of the best car design elements to appear this side of the turn of the century) – and designed around aerodynamic efficiency and a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, which helps lower the centre of gravity and improve the overall rigidity of the car, the 918 has still somehow managed to emerge with a shape that is distinctly Porsche.
Look at a completely shaded silhouette image of this and a Boxster or Cayman side by side, with no other visual hints, and it would take a severely dedicated hypercar enthusiast to tell the pair apart – though of course you’re on this site, which means (ideally) that’s exactly what you are.
Step inside, and you find a cockpit that is better appointed than you might expect given the performance the 918 is capable of. The 918’s interior is lavish, and while carbon fibre still makes an appearance, the remainder of the interior is stunningly trimmed.
Driver and passenger are separated by a centre console that rises from the floor a la the 918’s predecessor – the Carrera GT – while a smaller, 310mm steering wheel debuted on the hypercar that has since been used on other high performance Porsches.
Looking for some wind in your hair? Look no further. The 918’s party piece (well, one of them) is the lift-out roof panel hinted in its name, giving driver and passenger access to miles and miles of sky.
As you’d expect for a top-of-the-range Porsche, the 918 Spyder’s performance is simply blistering. This car is far from all show and no go.
Power comes from a mid-mounted, racecar-derived 4.6-litre, 608hp V8 teamed with two electric motors, with the rear producing the equivalent of 154hp and the front – driving just the front wheels up to 146mph – producing 127hp.
The combined output of the system is somewhere in the region of 887hp.
A seven-speed PDK gearbox drives power to the rear wheels, meaning high-speed drifting is very possible.
0-62 comes up in around 2.8 seconds, with a top speed somewhere north of 211mph.
Being a plug-in hybrid, the 918 Spyder can do all this and run silently in electric-only mode for a quoted range of 18 miles.
Ride & Handling
Ride in any high performance car is a relative thing, and compared with its peers the 918 Spyder returns a comfortable driving experience.
Four-wheel drive, torque vectoring and rear-wheel steering help out in the twisty stuff too, while a multilink rear axle with adaptive electro-mechanical settings allows the car to be set up to the driver’s tastes.
Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) allows each corner to talk to the rest of the car, optimising damping for the driving and road conditions.
Even with its electro-mechanical steering setup, reviews of the 918 Spyder suggest it handles as good as the best from Porsche’s past. It’s as precise as you’d expect a Porsche hypercar to be.
Compared with the lunatic V10 Carrera GT, you could even describe it as civilised.
Prices & Specs
Starting prices for the Porsche 918 were, comparitively for a hypercar from a major manufacturer, cheap.
Entry to the brand-new 918 club started at €781,155, rising to €853,155 for Weissach package cars – for those seeking even greater performance that could do without some of the creature comforts, including comfy seats, sound deadening and about €72,000.
Weissach cars also get extra-lightweight magnesium wheels, reducing the unsprung weight of the car.