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Porsche 918 Spyder Represents the "Gene Pool" for Future Porsches

Porsche 918 Spyder Represents the "Gene Pool" for Future Porsches

By Jeff Youngs, May 21, 2013
Porsche has revealed details and specifications for the 918 Spyder, the automaker's new plug-in parallel hybrid sports car. The 3,715-pound, all-wheel-drive, 2-seat vehicle delivers 887 combined horsepower and 787 combined lb.-ft. of torque, good for acceleration to 60 mph in less than 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 211 mph, according to the automaker. As Porsche states in the press release for the new model: "In short, the 918 Spyder will act as the gene pool for the Porsche sports cars of the future."

The 918 Spyder is constructed around a new Porsche hybrid drive powertrain, one that combines a rear-mounted, 4.6-liter gasoline V-8 engine with front and rear electric assist motors. As a parallel hybrid, the 918 Spyder can be operated solely using the gasoline V-8 engine or solely on electricity, sourcing power only from the rear wheels or from all four wheels as the driver chooses.

Equipped with a 9,150-rpm redline, the Porsche 918 Spyder's 608-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 engine features dry-sump lubrication via a separate oil tank and oil extraction system. Viewed from the rear, the 918 Spyder's top pipes exhaust system dominates the design, terminating above the rear-mounted V-8 engine with outlets embedded in the left and right roof fairings. Porsche says the top pipes design helps to quickly remove heat and gives the car a unique, signature sound.

Electric motors provide electric vehicle (EV) operation for up to 18 miles at speeds up to 93 mph, and serve as power booster when used in tandem with the gasoline V-8 engine. A 115-kW electric motor is employed at the rear axle, while a 95-kW electric motor serves duty up front. A liquid-cooled Lithium-ion battery powers the electric motors, and is protected by a 7-year warranty. Using the charge port located in the passenger-side B-pillar, the battery recharges in 7 hours using a standard 110-volt household outlet, according to Porsche. Use a 240-volt power source and the battery recharges in only 2 hours. Porsche will also offer an optional Porsche Speed Charging Station with a 400-volt outlet that can recharge the car in 25 minutes, Porsche claims.

A 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission is standard, delivering power to the rear axle, and is completely redesigned for use in the 918 Spyder. The car is also equipped with standard automatic start/stop technology.

Porsche provides five operating modes for the 918 Spyder's parallel hybrid powertrain. E-Power is the default setting, if the battery is sufficiently charged to operate as an EV. In this mode, the 918 Spyder can travel 18 miles running purely on electricity. Porsche says the car accelerates to 60 mph in 7 seconds when running in "E-Power" mode, and can achieve a top speed of 93 mph.

When the battery reaches a minimum state of charge, the car automatically switches to Hybrid mode. In Hybrid mode, the 918 Spyder employs both its gasoline V-8 engine and its electric motors to maximize efficiency while driving.

When greater levels of performance are preferable, the 918 Spyder's driver can switch into Sport Hybrid mode. In Sport Hybrid mode, the gasoline engine is the primary propulsion source, operating on a continuous basis, with the electric motors serving as power boosters. The 918 Spyder achieves its top speed of 211 mph in this mode.

Race Hybrid mode is designed to deliver maximum performance. In this mode, the V-8 engine is used to recharge the battery whenever it is not providing maximum motive force, and the electric motors are calibrated to deliver improved "boosting." A revised PDK shift strategy is also a part of the Race Hybrid mode, and when the 918 Spyder is placed in this mode, a Hot Lap button draws maximum battery power to assist the V-8 engine in providing maximum speed for a few fast laps of a race track.

In addition to its parallel hybrid powertrain, the Porsche 918 Spyder is equipped with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive shock absorbers, an electro-pneumatic lift system in front, electric steering, and a high-performance braking system with ceramic internally ventilated and perforated front discs. The sports car rides on 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels, shod with P265/35ZR20 tires in front and P325/30ZR21 tires in back.

The new Porsche 918 Spyder is also equipped with speed-sensitive rear-axle steering, offering up to 3 degrees of steering angle. At low speeds, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction of the front wheels to improve maneuverability, and at high speeds the rear wheels steer in the same direction as the front wheels to provide faster, more direct steering response.

This hardware package, in combination with a vehicle structure made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer, a center of gravity roughly equal to the height of the 918 Spyder's wheel hubs, and a 43/57 front-to-rear weight distribution, produce what Porsche calls "no-compromise driving dynamics." In fact, Porsche claims the 918 Spyder circles the northern loop of the Nurburgring racing circuit in Germany in 7 minutes and 14 seconds, a full 20 seconds faster than a Carrera GT.

One reason for this is the standard Porsche Active Aerodynamic system with E, Sport and Race settings. These driver-controlled settings provide maximum aerodynamic benefits to increase the car's efficiency, top speed, and downforce levels, as circumstances require. Porsche Active Aerodynamic is comprised of a retractable rear wing, rear spoiler, and adjustable underbody air flaps.

Inside, the new 918 Spyder is decked out in leather and aluminum, with three primary gauge displays and critical driving controls clustered around a multi-function steering wheel. An infotainment block sits on the rising center console, and contains an automatic climate control system, Burmeister premium audio system, Porsche Communication Management (PCM), and multi-touch black-panel technology.

Performance purists might wish to consider the optional Weissach package. So equipped, the 918 Spyder is dressed in a choice between unique colors and designs based on legendary Porsche racing cars. All Porsche 918 Spyders equipped with the Weissach package feature visible carbon fiber elements on the outside, carbon fiber interior trim rather than aluminum, and Alcantara upholstery instead of leather. This model also has 6-point front seat belts, a reduced amount of sound insulation material, and lightweight magnesium wheels. All told, the 918 Spyder Weissach Edition weighs 77 pounds less than the standard model.

Wondering what all of this might cost? $845,000.

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