The design of the 918 Spyder borrows more from Porsche’s racing heritage than it does to the brand’s road cars. It has a lean front end with a low-slung hood, rising at exaggerated angles to beautiful curvaceous curves that dip into the door cuts. The sensation is of one body, or powerful muscle, thrusting forward out of another. It’s punctuated by the “top pipe” exhaust system, rising like two mean nostrils directly from the mid-body. The purpose of the unique exhaust is to more optimally remove hot exhaust gases, assisting the liquid-cooling of the battery pack in managing temperature. The targa roof panels can be manually removed to expose a cockpit fitting a fighter-jet. The sweeping lines of the Spyder’s body culminate in the 911-inspired tail lamps at the edges of the broad rounded 959-inspired rear wing. The chassis is a carbon fiber monocoque. The Porsche 918 Spyder is a gorgeous work of engineering and art.
Yes, the Porsche 918 Spyder is a plug-in hybrid, but that doesn’t provide any frame of reference for the car’s otherworldly specs. In EV-only mode, with two electric motors giving 279 horsepower and no assistance at all from the beast of an internal combustion engine, the 918 can travel from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. That's faster than any other electric car (except for the Tesla Model S). The electric motor driving the front axle provides 93 kilowatts of punch. It can be decoupled from the system via an electric clutch. The 115-kW motor in back works in parallel with the main source of motivation—a 4.6 liter 608-horsepower V8 that brings the total output to 887 horsepower. And get this: 944 pound-feet of torque!
Car and Driver clocked a 0-60 mph speed of 2.2 seconds. Both Car and Driver and Motor Trend say the Porsche 918 is the fastest car to 60 mph they ever tested.
Computers and sensors make power delivery and gear shifting accessible to the layperson—with electric-assisted steering providing additional support.
If the 2.2 seconds to 60 didn’t wow you, consider this: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially rates the 918 Spyder at 67 miles per gallon equivalent when running on a combination of electricity and gasoline. After the battery is depleted, the efficiency drops to 22 mpg.
The all-electric range is 12 miles, by virtue of a 6.8-kWh battery pack. One of the 918 Spyder’s running modes is E-Drive, which keeps the car running purely on electricity using both front and rear motors—up to 93 miles per hour. Both engine and motors are used for the best mix of performance and fuel economy in hybrid, sport and race modes. Race mode activates a “push-to-pass” button, which delivers a surge of electrical power on demand.
The total range with a full tank of gasoline and a fully charged battery is 420 miles.
The 918 Spyder comes with a Porsche Universal Charger that can fully replenish the 6.8-kWh battery pack, when plugged into a 240-volt source via the charge port at the passenger-side B-pillar. The onboard charger, situated near the battery, operates at a rate of 3.6 kilowatts. Alternatively, the gas engine can siphon about two liters of gasoline to recharge the batteries without plugging in. (Other performance plug-in hybrids, like the BMW i8, similarly use gasoline to top up batteries—ensuring that electric motors can continue to augment internal combustion for maximum power.)
A Porsche press release claims that a DC “Porsche Speed Charging Station,” available as an option, can “fully charge” the battery of the 918 Spyder in 25 minutes.
While there is no official safety rating, the all-wheel-drive Porsche 918 Spyder uses a stability management system consisting of traction control and stability control. These can be independently deactivated, or entirely removed for sport driving. All 918s are equipped with front, side, body and head airbags.
The base 918 starts at $845,000. The racetrack-oriented Weissach model starts at $929,000.
The 918 comes standard with power windows with one-touch operation, a digital radio, a rain-sensing windshield wiper, electric and heated door mirrors, a reverse camera, an 11-speaker Burnmester surround sound system, LED headlights, leather upholstery on the dash, the center console and the door panels and Alcantara upholstery on the headliner.
The Weissach package adds aerodynamic touches and reduces the weight from 3,715 pounds to 3,616 pounds by using magnesium wheels, lighter brakes, ceramic wheel bearings, and titanium bolts on the chassis. Additional options include a $63,000 specialized exterior pain, $26,000 leather seats, a carbon fiber interior package, carbon floor mats with bespoke piping and colored seat belts, and a button-activated front axle lift system that reduces the risk of scraping the car on ramps and driveways.
The finished price can easily nudge past $1 million.
Comparison to Similar Cars
In addition to the Porsche 918 Spyder, the stratospheric class of hyper cars includes the McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari. Take note: The LaFerrari, which is absolutely a supercar, is not a plug-in and cannot move on electricity alone. Of this set, the 918 Spyder—the least expensive—has the biggest battery pack and the greatest reliance on electric motors and electronic wizardry. As a result, it’s the heaviest, weighing about 440 pounds more than the McLaren P1. The weight from battery and motors provides the 918 Spyder its torque advantage over the other supercars—about 50 percent more axle-twisting power compared to the P1. The 918 Spyder has more bells and whistles in the interior, compared to the more purposeful performance-oriented dash layout of its competitors.
Sales of the 918 Spyder in the United States began in June 2014. By December 2014, it was sold out. Of the total 918 units produced, the most orders came from the United States, where 297 cars were purchased. On occasion, one or two 918 Spyders emerge in exclusive auctions and private sales.