Arguably the most spectacular of the three hybrid vehicles it displayed in Geneva, the Porsche 918 Spyder Concept is under serious consideration to move from one-off show car to elite street status. Teaming gasoline and electric power, this mid-engine, all-wheel-drive plug-in supercar is capable of delivering stunning performance and outstanding efficiency. Porsche projects the 918 Spyder will be able to lap the Nürburgring's fabled Nordschleife circuit in less than 7 minutes 30 seconds -- quicker than the Porsche's previous supercar, the Carrera GT -- while still returning up to 78 mpg.
With a motorsport-inspired design that consists of a carbon-fiber/composite tub and aero-tuned bodywork complemented by the extensive use of lightweight alloy chassis and suspension bits, the two-seat Porsche 918 Spyder tips the scales under 3,285 pounds. Nestled amidships is a race-derived 3.4-liter V8 that makes over 500 horsepower paired with electric motor/generators at both the front and rear axles that add another 218 ponies to the mix. Each is fed by a liquid-cooled Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack located behind the passenger cell that can be revitalized using both plug- in and regenerative braking technologies. A seven-speed Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) transmission controls both engine and electric motor power to the rear axle while the front-wheel electric boost heads to the tires via a fixed transmission ratio. The net effect is a car that can reach 60 mph in 3.2-seconds and has a top end of 218 mph.
The Porsche 918 Spyder Concept offers its driver a choice of four unique operating modes, which are selectable by a button on the steering wheel. Toggled into E-Drive, the car can travel up to 16 miles on pure electric power while Hybrid, Sport Hybrid and Race Hybrid modes bring the gasoline engine online and increasing levels of pure performance into play. The Sport Hybrid setting introduces computer-controlled Torque Vectoring into the system and Race Hybrid spec allows a sufficiently charged battery to deliver a quick bit of push-to-pass "E-Boost" that trims overtaking times.
Beyond its expected ultra-supportive sport buckets, the cabin design of the Porsche 918 Spyder Concept introduces a number of driver-centric concepts that will be incorporated into the automaker's future super sports cars. A trio of race-influenced free-standing gauges displays road speed, engine revs and energy management status using color-keyed green-to-red illumination to note the changing intensity status. A multifunction steering wheel affords the driver quick, direct access to varying key operating parameters while a touch screen in the upper center console simplifies ancillary system adjustments and provides a tidier overall look. As a final touch, the Porsche 918 Spyder Concept boasts a Range Manager function that interfaces with its on-board navigation system tographically indicate on a map the remaining distance to empty.