Concept-Porsche 918 Spyder Preview


Porsche 918 Spyder Concept
  • All-new design and possible successor to the Carrera GT
  • 500-horsepower, 3.4-liter, gasoline V-8 engine
  • Achieves 0-62 mph in 3.2 seconds with 198 mph top speed
  • 7-speed "Doppelkupplungsgetriebe" (PDK) dual-clutch transmission
  • All-wheel drive and 4-mode driving program
  • Likely to see production in a few years
  • "Race Hybrid" mode uses "E-Boost" button to enable additional electrical power for even more acceleration
Green Facts
  • 218-horsepower twin electric motors
  • One electric motor in rear and one up front
  • Front electric motor drives the front wheels independently when needed
  • Estimated 78 mpg


Porsche has an established track record of developing its concept cars into production vehicles-especially when it comes to supercars. In 1983, Porsche introduced the 959 Concept, which went into production in 1986 as the world's first all-wheel-drive turbocharged sports car. In 2001, Porsche displayed a Carrera GT concept. That open-top roadster went into production in 2004 as the company's first 10-cylinder sports car.

For 2010, Porsche has unveiled an all-new flagship coupe concept, named the 918 Spyder (paying homage to the original Porsche 550 Spyder of the 1950s). The 2-door sports car boasts a powertrain-a very unique attribute in a segment full of competitors boasting 10- and 12-cylinder engines.

Serving to demonstrate that hybrid technology can be adopted to meet the needs of driving enthusiasts, this Porsche concept vehicle is fitted with a single gas-powered V-8 engine and two electric motors. The total combined power exceeds 700 horsepower, says the automaker. As an added benefit, thanks to its efficient hybrid powertrain, this sports car can achieve 78 miles per gallon, according to Porsche. If history repeats itself-which is likely-the 918 Spyder may see production within the next three years.


Porsche 918 Spyder ConceptThe DNA of the Porsche 918 Spyder is rooted in the company's motorsports history-the concept bears a striking resemblance to the Porsche RS Spyder currently competing in the American Le Mans Series of races. The body is constructed of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFP), utilized for its strength and lightweight qualities, and much of the structural metals consist of lightweight aluminum and magnesium. Thanks to a design focus on weight management, and even with its battery-based hybrid powertrain, the 918 Spyder tips the scales at a relatively light 3,285 pounds-less than a typical 4-door family sedan.

The cockpit of the 918 Spyder is all business. Both passengers sit in deeply contoured bucket seats with a tall center console between the seats. Three round dials face the driver (measuring road speed, engine speed and energy management) through a 3-spoke steering wheel. The steering wheel is a multi-function design, with buttons for many common driving tasks such as controlling audio settings, vehicle settings and navigation screens-located above and behind the center console. Instrument illumination automatically varies from green (during economical fuel consumption-oriented driving modes) to red (for performance-oriented driving).


Porsche 918 Spyder ConceptThe Porsche 918 Spyder is a mid-engine sports car (the primary powerplant sits behind the driver, but in front of the rear axle). As it is a hybrid design, the Porsche is fitted with dual powerplants (one internal-combustion engine and two electric motors). The gasoline powerplant and one electric motor are in the rear of the vehicle while the second electric motor is located up front.

The primary combustion engine is a 3.4-liter V-8 that uses premium unleaded gasoline. The high-revving engine (redline is 9,200 rpm-most cars hit their maximum engine speed around 6,750 rpm) is rated at more than 500 horsepower, says Porsche. Assisting the engine are two electric motors with a combined mechanical output of 218 horsepower. This brings the Spyder's total system power to more than 700 horsepower.

The standard transmission is Porsche's 7-speed "Doppelkupplungsgetriebe" (PDK) double-clutch automatic sending power to the rear wheels. The 918 Spyder is fitted with permanent all-wheel drive, but it is not your typical setup. Taking advantage of the versatility of electric motors, Porsche has dedicated the motor up front to drive the front wheels independently only when needed.

Enthusiast-oriented performance usually isn't associated with hybrid vehicles, but the 918 Spyder makes an exception. According to the automaker, the Porsche sprints to 62 mph in just 3.2 seconds and doesn't hit its terminal velocity until 198 mph. Furthermore, it reportedly laps the famed N´┐Żrburgring track in Germany in less than 7:30 minutes-faster than the Carrera GT, according to the company. Most impressively, Porsche says the 918 Spyder earns upwards of 78 mpg (with a very low emissions level of 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer).

As expected, the 918 Spyder is fitted with a battery pack for its electric motors. The plug-in system, designed to be charged at home, features liquid-cooled lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries positioned behind the passenger cell. When not plugged in, the batteries are charged by the combustion engine and through regenerative braking (kinetic energy is used to generate electricity). The Porsche is able to run in electric-only mode for up to 16 miles, says the automaker.


Porsche 918 Spyder ConceptPorsche has fitted the 918 Spyder with four distinct driving modes: E-drive, Hybrid, Sport Hybrid and Race Hybrid. Each mode specifies a unique powertrain configuration, based on the driver's demands, and each mode changes the personality of the vehicle from high fuel efficiency to extra-powerful.

The "E-drive" mode is designed to run the 918 Spyder under electric power alone, while the "Hybrid" mode introduces combined efficiency of the combustion engine and the electric motors. The "Sport Hybrid" mode retains both drive systems, but puts a focus on performance over efficiency-most of the power is sent to the rear wheels and torque vectoring (power is sent to a specific wheel based on the corner) improves driving dynamics, the company says. Lastly, in "Race Hybrid" mode, all systems are tuned for maximum performance (at the expense of fuel efficiency) and a unique "E-Boost" push-to-pass button feeds in additional electrical power for even more acceleration.

Porsche says that the four distinct driving modes allow the 918 Spyder to achieve track lap times comparable to a dedicated race car, yet still deliver the fuel economy figures more commonly associated with a plug-in hybrid vehicle.