Published October 24, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
The Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid is due to begin assembly of a total run of 918 units on 9/18/13 but the German automaker may fall short of a potential trifecta of numeric symbolism considering what its peak horsepower will be. Alas, this plug-in car will not offer 918 bhp, but will manage a gas-plus-electric output of somewhere over 784 bhp, which in any case ought to be enough to get out of its own way.
This unofficial word comes as more leaked info is reportedly being shared online about the $1 million supercar’s technical specifications. These are based on what are represented as a copy of the 918’s sales brochure and possibly also early disclosures to well-heeled potential customers with loose lips – or ready fingers at the keyboard, if you will.
In brief, the 4.6-liter V8 portion of the drivetrain appears to be pegging 572 bhp at a motorcycle-like peak of 9,000 rpm. Torque is said to be 370 pound-feet. Thanks to the electrified part of the drivetrain, between 1,000 and 4,000 rpm, total torque is reported at a tractor-like 569 pound-feet.
The car's two electric motors are stated as delivering a combined total of 241 bhp. The rear motor in the all-wheel-drive car adds 127 bhp. The front adds 114 bhp. As is the case of some hybrids, apparently power peaks are not all available at the same time, so the combined peak horsepower from all three motive sources – which would add to 813 – is not all available at once. Peak power is listed instead as 784 bhp, which still is a healthy bump from 762 bhp previously reported.
Said power is delivered via a seven-speed PDK transmission that comes equipped also with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus and Electric Porsche Traction Management and a “sail mode” which can decouple the engine and transmission for incremental economy gains.
And what does the fast charger cost for a $1 million plug-in hybrid? A proportionately exorbitant $26,409 – yep, for the cost of a new Prius, you could just buy the factory engineered battery charger. Another option in the list is the Weissach package. This package uses extensive magnesium, titanium, ceramic, lighter wheels, eliminates wiring for the external quick-charge system, air-conditioning, sound system and carpets. It is the classic stripped-for-the-track approach Porsche has long been known for, and is the latest twist on when less is more.
The result for the Weissach treatment is a cut in curb weight by 77 pounds and to pay for this check mark on the options list box, buyers will be asked to ante up enough money to buy a Tesla Model S – $93,189.
A pre-production car built to this spec is said to have shaved a couple seconds from the 918’s Nürburgring lap time down to 7m, 14s, and it will add to the exclusivity among the exclusive, no doubt.
For those of you whose view of what constitutes the design and intent of a proper hybrid as being a car that’s inexpensive to buy, frugal to operate, peppy enough, but not capable of setting records at racetracks, this Porsche may well seem an abomination, or at least wretched excess. And to be sure, even if it is capable of boasting impressive mpg and emissions efficiency numbers under light operational loads, when the engine is spinning in the upper stratosphere, you can be sure mpg is nothing to brag about.
Sports cars fans however are salivating for this creation that promises to be Euro-5 compliant, and if driven in a gingerly manner, can deliver unheard of economy – estimated CO2 emissions of 70 g/km, and around 78 mpg. At the same time, it is being touted as the most high-performance road-going Porsche to date.
Our take? No judgments. We won’t blame anyone who disapproves, but as we typically strive to do, we're staying editorially neutral, seeing pros and cons to this and similar developments around the world. If the 918 Spyder, like dedicated track racers do also, generates broader excitement for electrified drivetrains, that is probably a good thing for the industry. The 918 will be limited-production, and supercars are more often used as weekend toys, not daily drivers.