It's been close to 20 years since Porsche last unveiled a "concept car" (the Boxster at the 1993 Detroit Auto Show). Given all that time, it should come as no surprise that their latest concept is unlike anything before it. Using the Geneva Motor Show as a launching pad, Porsche unveiled their third design in a series of uncompromising hybrid drive vehicles that would have both "Doc Brown" and "Marty McFly" a little green with envy. Taking pole position in the grid with the new Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid and GT3 R Hybrid race car is the Porsche 918 Concept.
The Porsche 918 Spyder concept combines high-tech racing features with electric-mobility to offer a fascinating range of qualities. Faster than a Porsche Carrera GT, it offers the performance of a super sports car with acceleration from a standstill to 60 mph in under 3.2 seconds, top speed of 198, and a lap time on the Nordschleife of Nürburgring in less than 7:30 minutes. At the same time, planned emission levels of just 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer on fuel consumption of approximately 78 mpg U.S., is off the charts, and better by far than today's ultra-compact city cars and hybrids.
Innovative Powertrain Combines Race-Bred V8 Engine with Electric Drive
This open two-seater is powered by a high-revving V8 developing more than 500 horsepower and a maximum engine speed of 9,200 rpm – as well as electric motors on the front and rear axle with overall mechanical output of 218 horsepower (160 kW).
The V8 combustion engine is the next step in the evolution of the highly successful 3.4-liter power unit already featured in the RS Spyder racing car and positioned mid-ship, in front of the rear axle, giving the car excellent balance and the right set-up for supreme performance on the race track.
Power is transmitted to the wheels by a seven-speed Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) transmission that feeds the power of the electric drive system to the rear axle. The front-wheel electric drive powers the wheels through a fixed transmission ratio.
The energy reservoir is a fluid-cooled lithium-ion battery positioned behind the passenger cell. The big advantage of a plug-in hybrid is that the battery can be charged on the regular electrical network. A further point is that the car’s kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy fed into the battery when applying the brakes, thus providing additional energy for fast and dynamic acceleration.
Four Distinct Driving Modes
A button on the steering wheel allows the driver to choose among four different running modes: The E-Drive mode is for running the car under electric power alone, with a range of up to 25 km or 16 miles. In the Hybrid mode, the 918 Spyder uses both the electric motors and the combustion engine as a function of driving conditions and requirements, offering a range from particularly fuel-efficient all the way to extra-powerful.
The Sport Hybrid mode uses both drive systems, but with the focus on performance. Most of the drive power goes to the rear wheels, with Torque Vectoring serving to additionally improve the car’s driving dynamics.
In the Race Hybrid mode the drive systems are focused on pure performance with the highest standard of driving dynamics on the track, running at the limit to their power and dynamic output. With the battery sufficiently charged, a push-to-pass button feeds in additional electrical power (E-Boost), when overtaking or for even better performance.
With the hybrid drive system offering this wide range of individual modes and applications, the 918 Spyder is able either to achieve lap times comparable to those of a thoroughbred racing car, or the extremely low emissions and high fuel economy figures of a plug-in hybrid.
Advanced body structure and design offer more than just good looks
Like the drivetrain, the lightweight body structure of the Porsche 918 Spyder also bears out the car’s DNA carried over directly from motorsport: The modular structure with its monocoque bodyshell made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFP) and liberal use of magnesium and aluminum not only reduce weight to below 1,490 kg, or 3,285 lb, but also ensure supreme driving precision thanks to a high level of torsional stiffness.
Reminiscent of highly successful, legendary racing cars such as the Porsche 917 and the current Porsche RS Spyder, the 918 Spyder, with its design concept so typical of Porsche arouses powerful emotions. The combination of racing car dimensions, clearly structured design with perfectly balanced surfaces, and innovative details throughout, creates an ideal synthesis of form and function – following Porsche’s design DNA.
The smooth balance of tradition and progress gives the car a powerful stance on the road. Variable aerodynamics, typical of Porsche, ensures both visionary and traditional highlights especially around the rear spoiler. The striking rear hoods extending out of the headrests, in turn, not only fulfill an aerodynamic function on the 918 Spyder, but also accommodate retractable air intakes with a ram air function.
High-tech Interior Provides Glimpse into the Future
The driver and passenger are not only embedded in contoured sports bucket seats but also form part of the cockpit, which provides a synthesis of efficient functionality and ergonomic high-tech operation. Additionally, the cockpit offers a glimpse at the potential interior architecture of future Porsche super sports cars. The three free-standing circular dials for road speed (left), engine speed (middle) and energy management (right) would appear to come directly from a racing car in the ‘60s, bearing out that unique philosophy of driver orientation so characteristic of Porsche.
The center console rises up towards the front in the 918 Spyder and houses a touch screen for intuitive control of the car’s functions, serving to reduce the number of visible controls and maintain the principle of direct operation.
The control units relevant to the driver are mainly concentrated on the three-spoke multifunction sports steering wheel, while the variable driving modes are supplemented by a switch enabling the driver to call up various drive programs and serving as the push-to-pass button for E-boosting. Instrument illumination, finally, varies from green for the consumption-oriented running modes to red for the performance-oriented driving programs.
The Porsche 918 Spyder concept also comes with further innovative functions such as the Range Manager. After being activated in the Center Display, the Range Manager uses the map in the navigation system to present the remaining range the car is able to cover, naturally allowing the driver to influence that range through the appropriate choice of power and performance. In cities with environmental alert areas the Range Manager also states whether the driver is able to reach a certain destination on electric power alone.
Applying this information and using further info on the availability and location of special energy filling stations, the driver is then able to choose his personal style of driving as well as the right battery charge and filling strategy.
Offering a unique combination of extremely low fuel consumption, supreme performance and long electric range, the Porsche 918 Spyder concept represents an essential milestone in Porsche’s strategy on the way to genuine electric-mobility.
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