Following a year of factory-backed “pre-reveal” teases, the absolutely, positively final production form 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder made its triumphant arrival in Frankfurt. As promised, this stunning mid-engine plug-in hybrid rival to cars like the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1 matches a racing-derived 4.6-liter V8 engine that drives 608-horsepower to the rear wheels with a motor on the front axle that adds 127 horsepower to that figure and another at the rear that contributes an additional 154 horsepower to bring the effective total to 887 ponies and raise the collective torque tally to a tarmac-shredding 940 lb-ft. According to Porsche, that’s sufficient muscle to send its Targa-topped, carbon fiber road rocket blasting to 60 mph in less than 2.8 seconds and carry it to an estimated top speed of 214 mph.
Even operating in pure EV mode, the 918 Spyder is no slouch. It can reach the benchmark 60 mph pace in less than 7.0 ticks, top out at 93 mph and travel up to 21 miles on a single charge from its 6.8kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. This revolutionary Porsche also features a special version of the automaker's 7-speed PDK dual-clutch sequential transmission rotated 180 degrees to help lower the center of gravity. It's bolted to the engine/aft hybrid module assembly while the front motor features its own independent electronically controlled gear unit. Capable of enhancing handling via precise torque vectoring, the system features an integral decoupler that pulls it out of the power loop when the road speed exceeds 146 mph to prevent over-revving. Although the 918 Spyder's engine and highly efficient, super-light carbon-ceramic brake system incorporate adaptive energy recovery systems to help replenish its 6.8kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack on the fly, the car also is fitted with a 3.6kW on-board charger.
The Porsche 918 Spyder can operate in any of five distinct modes, all toggled via a switch mounted on the steering wheel that controls the powertrain elements as well as the car’s front/rear/underfloor active aerodynamic devices that consist of auto-adjusting elements ahead of the front axle and around the headlamps as well as an articulated rear spoiler. In addition to the 918 Spyder’s zero-emission "E-power" setting, "Hybrid" tweaks the gas/electric mix to most efficiently match the driving conditions while stepping up to "Sport Hybrid" ensures that the engine is always running and tasked with providing the primary propulsive power. Slipping into "Race Hybrid" mode ups the aggression index to a track-optimized setting where both motors can provide additional max boost for short periods of time but the battery still gets fed by the engine as well as the regenerative-braking systems and on the PDK transmission. For the ultimate in performance, the "Hot Lap" button offers short-term max power by freeing up all electric reserves and running the battery to its fully depleted state.
To ensure that every bit of its performance potential can be enjoyed on demand, Porsche matched the 918 Spyder’s super-rigid composite tub with an equally sophisticated all-alloy suspension inspired by its successful racing vehicles. In addition to Porsche's Active Suspension Management adjustable damping setup, the car features electronically controlled rear-wheel steering to further improve its already brilliant cornering responsiveness and lane-changing capability.
Production of the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder is set to start later this month with deliveries of the first cars due late in the year. Only 918 copies of this stunning green-tinged GT will ever be produced and the price of entry begins at $845,000 -- $84,000 more if you opt for the Weissach Package that adds more superlight components and trims curb weight from 3,715 to 3,616 pounds.
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