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2011-03-22 08:18

KEEPING IT ORIGINAL: Homologation sketches released by Porsche showcase a car which is very close to the original concept shown at Geneva a year ago.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Porsche
Model 918 Spyder
Engine 3.4-litre V8, dual electric
Power 368kW (160kW electric)
Transmission Seven-speed PDK
Zero To Hundred 3.2 sec
Top Speed 320km/h
When Porsche stunned all present at the 2010 Geneva auto show with its 918 Spyder hybrid supercar few could have envisaged a production version a mere year later.

At the time Porsche said the 918 Spyder was simply a technology showcase and, at best, some interior design features would migrate to the 911 range in the fullness of time.

Four months after its Geneva debut Porsche altered its original position by saying that if there were sufficient demand, it could (possibly) consider manufacturing the 918.

Well, thanks to (very) strong interest from customers, Porsche has announced it will build a production run of 918 cars, each priced at a rather dear R7-million.

Engineers are finalising the 918’s last few electro-mechanical details with production scheduled to begin on September 18, 2013. The first customers should receive their car by November 2013 and, truth be told, disappointment will simply not be part of the equation – on any level.


The production 918 Spyder should retain most of its auto show concept’s Carrera GT-inspired styling with the addition of a removable targa roof panel pandering to requirements of customers keen to operate their cars in all weather.

Beyond the striking styling 918’s 3.4-litre V8 petrol engine (capable of 920rpm) powers up to 368kW, supported by an additional 160kW from two electric motors, one on each axle. Performance is plainly astounding... Porsche claims 0-100km/h is achievable in 3.2 seconds and if you happen upon a quiet enough piece of autobahn the 918 is good for 320km/h.

Adding to its billing as the greatest road-going performance car Porsche has yet built, the 918 Spyder has managed a lap of the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife in seven minutes and 20 seconds – beating Porsche’s legendary Carrera GT by an unbelievable 19 seconds.

If you think the performance figures are startling, brace yourself for the fuel economy and emissions numbers. Porsche's new supercar should return three litres/100km while emitting only 70g of CO2/km. Range on pure electric drive is around 25km but it takes only three hours to recharge the lithium-ion battery pack from a conventional wall socket.

Although purists might scoff at the 918’s all-wheel drive torque distribution, primary drive remains biased to the rear wheels through the company’s excellent seven-speed PDK transmission. The 918’s front wheels are driven by a fixed-ratio gear and the powertrain’s electric motors.

SENSIBLE SUPERCAR: With the company’s circuit certified V8 racing engine and sophisticated contemporary lithium-ion battery technology, 918 Spyder is very much a 21st century supercar…

Porsche engineered three selectable drive modes into the 918’s drivetrain, too. Hybrid mode fires up the 3.4 V8, yet remains economy minded; Sport Hybrid is pretty self-explanatory and there's a Race Hybrid mode for track days that has a push-to-pass E-Boost button.

Despite having a sophisticated double electric motor set-up and generous battery capacity, the 918 manages to avert the problem of other hybrids by not exacting a significant weight penalty due to the presence of electric-drive hardware - which usually adversely influences dynamics and handling fluidity.

The 918, though, thanks to its light monocoque body and a magnesium/aluminium chassis, tips the scales at only 1490kg – appreciably less than a 911…


When Porsche’s Carrera GT production ended late in 2006 few thought the company would ever build another supercar other than its headline 911 turbo derivatives. Fortunately the talents of Zuffehausen’s engineers have not been reined in.

With Mercedes-Benz having electrified its SLS and Audi tinkering with its E-tron, the German automotive industry is light years ahead of its European, American and Asian competitors with regards to environmentally friendly, high-performance supercars.

Interestingly, despite the rampant customer demand that prompted Porsche to allow its 918 to germinate from concept to production. it will not build cars for speculative buyers.

Dealers can only secure a car by proving true customer intent in the form of a half down-payment (R3.5m) exactly a year before said 918 is built.

If the price is too high and waiting until 2013 is simply intolerable for you, Porsche - always the master marketers – has released a 911 Turbo S "Edition 918 Spyder" which is available now, trimmed with all manner of styling trinkets and cabin embellishments to celebrate this rather historic chapter in the company’s history.

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