Your average electric motor is heavy. It’s all magnets and wire and heat-proof housing. Batteries, too, are full of lead and acid and such, and make good boat anchors door stops training apparatus just recycle them. So we tend to dismiss “performance” hybrids out right. The Honda CR-Z, for example, would be a far better car without all the unnecessary electrics. Hybrids are almost always too complicated, too unproductive, and too gimmicky to be taken seriously.
But Porsche has a new one, and if you’re not even willing to consider the 918 Sypder, we’re taking your gearhead card, because it is the automotive embodiment of beauty.
Before we get to the good part, looks aren’t everything. There’s also power. Thankfully, with this German machine, that’s also a good part. The 4.6 liter V8 makes 570 hp, but with the electric motors engaged (one on the front wheels, the other inside the transmission), it buzzes out over 770 hp. This means a 0-60 run of just under 3 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph, which might make this the first production hybrid to lift the velvet rope outside the 200 mph club.
The 918’s battery can be recharged in 2 hours, though with just the electrics running, that only gets you 16 miles. It seems it wasn’t really designed for efficiency, even though Porsche claims it can get 78 mpg, a figure that has garnered its share of doubt. There is an F1-like Kinetic Energy Recovery System, though we have no word of an open wheel-class “speed boost” button.
It’s constructed, like the Lamborghini Aventador, around a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, though this one is reinforced with plastic. We hope it helped, because the car weighs somewhere around 3700 lbs. Like we said, batteries and motors are heavy.
Now for the good part: the beauty. Porsche released their first photos of the production version of the 918 Spyder last week, saying something about it wearing pre-production camouflage. We’re glad our armed forces don’t have the same camo standards, but we’re not complaining. The 918 is simply stunning, its swooping front wheel arches and notchy back evocative of the timeless 908. It’s a pity F.A. Porsche didn’t survive to see it.
Out front, it screams McLaren MP4-12C. Out back, it has the taillights of a Viper. And of course, this is all very good. But one of the coolest features is the pair of vertical exhaust ports flanking the tiny excuse for a rear windshield. That just doesn’t happen anymore.
The “Spyder” moniker comes with a targa roof, though the CF unibody should help eliminate flex under cornering. The end result is a gorgeous, Le Mans style racer, and we want one. Or several.
We don’t know if that 78 mpg figure is accurate, but if environmentalism powers the green light in the Porsche offices for projects this good looking, we’ll encourage them to keep it plugged in. The 918 Spyder will enter production in September of next year.