The next chapter in Porsche's legendary supercar saga has moved one step closer to final form with the first street-legal prototype versions of its new high-performance plug-in hybrid, the Porsche 918 Spyder, beginning their intensive real-world evaluation process. Clad in subtle camouflage that recalls a look seen on its classic 917 race machines, the car pictured here in factory-supplied "spy shots" displays a number of subtle styling tweaks compared to the Porsche 918 Spyder Concept that made its debut at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show along with some powertrain revamps. In addition to swapping the original side-exit exhaust outlets for unique upward-venting "top pipe" alternatives atop the engine bay, these latest prototypes in the test fleet also are fitted with two-piece lift-off roof panels.

"What we are doing with the 918 Spyder is redefining driving fun, efficiency and performance," said Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Executive Board Research and Development of Porsche AG. To that end, the production 918 Spyder will feature a megaload of Porsche Intelligent Performance elements including a full Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) monocoque structure, adaptive aerodynamics and adaptive rear-wheel steering.

Motivation for the production Porsche 918 Spyder will come from the combination of a 4.6-liter gasoline V8 engine and a pair of electric motors, one forward to drive the front wheels and the other at the rear packaged with the car's 7-speed transmission Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) transmission. Collectively, they'll give the 918 Spyder over 770 total combined horsepower - sufficient to send it from 0-60 mph in about 3.0-seconds and take it beyond the 200-mph mark.

The lithium-ion battery pack in the 918 Spyder will reportedly allow this revolutionary Porsche to travel over 90 miles on a single charge while helping it return nearly 80 mpg on the Euro driving cycle. Porsche also remains confident that the 918 Spyder will be able to meet or exceed the factory's previously stated performance goal of lapping the Nürburgring's fabled 12.9-mile Nordschleife circuit in less than 7 minutes 30 seconds -- a time that would make it even quicker than the Porsche's most recent supercar offering, the Carrera GT.

Series build of the new 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder will commence in late September 2013, with total production to be capped at 918 units. The first U.S. customer cars are slated for delivery by the end of 2013, and while official pricing has yet to be released, current projections indicate it will start around $850,000.


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