The age of hybrid supercars is upon us, with even Ferrari getting into the act of pairing electric propulsion with traditional gas-fired internal combustion engines to produce fabulous horsepower alongside at least token levels of environmental awareness. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder is at the forefront of the hybrid supercar movement, which is only natural given the industrial might behind Porsche's corporate parent (Volkswagen) and its ability to spread out development costs across a lineup of vehicles that can benefit from trickle-down technologies.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder.
01. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Is An All-New Design
While there are certainly styling call-outs to models from Porsche's past - particularly the Carrera GT - the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder rides on its own unique platform. Featuring a monocoque design constructed out of plastic that has been reinforced with carbon fiber, and a removable roof panel that gives proof to the Porsche 918's 'Spyder' moniker, the supercar's elongated wheelbase instantly identifies it as something unusual from the factory at Stuttgart. Needless to say, the 918 Spyder offers a two-seat roadster arrangement that precludes taking on any more passengers than are absolutely necessarily as you blast around a race track.
02. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Features A Hybrid Drivetrain
The most unusual aspect of the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder is the fact that it makes use of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, making it the first supercar from Porsche to go 'green.' We put 'green' in quotation marks because there's no question that the pair of electric motors offered with the Porsche 918 Spyder are there to improve performance, not help the car sip gas. Combined with the vehicle's 4.6-liter V-8 engine (which itself produces 608 horsepower), the hybrid system produces a total of 887 horses and 944 lb-ft of torque. This is an absolutely mammoth amount of power, and it is managed by a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.
03. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Comes With All-Wheel Drive
As you might have guess, the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder makes use of an all-wheel drive system (popular amongst Porsche's top-tier models) in order to maximize traction in the face of such overwhelming engine output. This is no ordinary four-wheel drive, however: while one of the Porsche 918 Spyder's electric motors sits between the eight-cylinder gas mill and the vehicle's transmission, the other is positioned at the front of the car in order to motivate the forward wheels. There's another trick up the 918 Spyder's sleeve, too - the front motor is only capable of spinning up to 16,000 rpm, which means that past 165 miles per hour the axle disengages from the motor so as not to damage the hybrid system.
04. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Offers Five Drive Modes
One thing that the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder shares with other, more modest hybrid designs is the availability of multiple drive modes. You might be surprised to find out that the Porsche 918 Spyder is capable of operating on battery power alone for short distances, but that's exactly what E-Drive mode enables it to do. In fact, it can even accelerate to just over 90-mph in E-Drive, although with a maximum range of 20 miles the thrill of silent speed will be brief. Hybrid mode attempts to balance efficiency with power, while Sport provides better throttle response and power for on-road driving. Race mode is the hairiest of the five, and includes a 'push-to-pass' button that delivers a concentrated burst of battery-sourced power for maximum acceleration.
05. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Makes Use Of Regenerative Braking
Performance is obviously the watchword with the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder, but there's still a need to balance that with the requirements of a hybrid drivetrain. This explains the presence of a regenerative braking system that is designed to recapture the kinetic energy that is produced while the vehicle is being halted. In order to avoid the mushy feel that often comes with this type of braking system, the Porsche 918 Spyder only activates its regenerative feature at braking below 0.5g. Ultra-grippy carbon ceramic rotors help ensure maximum stopping power at all times.
06. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Is Incredibly Quick
As you might have gathered from its engine specs and drivetrain design, the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder is a very, very fast automobile. Thanks to the grip offered by its all-wheel drive system, Porsche claims that the 918 Spyder can reach 60-mph from a standing start in just 2.6 seconds, which makes it one of the fastest cars in the known universe. The 918 Spyder is more than just quick in a straight line, however - the car can reach a maximum speed of 211-mph, which puts it in an elite club that few other cars - super or not - can touch.
07. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Set A Nurburgring Record
When it comes to putting it all together - the speed, the handling, and the engineering - it's hard to fault the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder's choice of venue. Porsche's design team took the 918 Spyder to Germany's famed Nurburgring Nordschleife race course, which consists of 12.8 miles of unforgiving corners and extreme high velocity straight-aways, to see what the supercar could do. The end result was a new world record for a production car: 6 minutes and 57 seconds, which is faster than any other globally-marketed automobile that can be just as easily driven to the mall.
08. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Delivers A Luxury Cockpit
Performance is great, but modern supercars also have to deliver in the comfort department if they hope to snag well-heeled buyers. The cabin of the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder is replete with luxury features, including a rising center console that features an open-air pass-through area underneath in order to combat the snug sports car feeling inherent in these types of vehicles, as well as beautiful aluminum trim, and leather seating. An unusual aspect of the Porsche 918 Spyder's interior is its 'writing tablet,' a touchscreen that can interpret 'handwriting' inputted by swiping one's finger across the surface. Probably not the easiest task to accomplish while traveling at hyperspeed, but an intriguing feature nonetheless.
09. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Is Incredibly Expensive
How much would you pay for a car with the over-the-top capabilities of the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder? If I told you the answer to that question was $847,975, would you immediately pass out as all of the blood left your brain, or would you nod knowingly given the already-stratospheric price tags associated with similar supercars from Ferrari and Bugatti? Regardless of your reaction, the Porsche 918 Spyder is by far the most expensive vehicle in the German automaker's lineup, by a significant margin, and one of the priciest hybrid vehicles in the world.
10. The 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Has Had Trouble Finding An Audience
Given its exorbitant cost, it's perhaps not surprising that Porsche has had trouble selling the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder. Only 918 examples of the Porsche 918 Spyder will be produced, which is a limited run, but still higher than the total cars built by other exotic competitors (particularly the Italians and British rival McLaren). The lack of exclusivity could be working together with the hesitance of moneyed high performance automobile fans to fork over so much green for a hybrid, which is still in many respects a novelty in the supercar universe.