Porsche Shows Off 918 Spyder Concept at Geneva Show

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Think of the 918 Spyder Concept as a Carrera GT and Tesla Roadster combined, and for image's sake alone a car the iconic sports car maker should build. 

The look would have any Carrera GT owner willing to trade up, as it appears more like an evolution of the storied supercar than anything radically new.  And as far as performance goes, the 918 Spyder leaves nothing on the table with a sprint to 100 km/h in a mere 3.2 seconds and then onward to a terminal velocity of 319 km/h (198 mph), compared to 3.9 seconds to 100 km/h and a top speed of 330 km/h (205 mph) in the Carrera GT. 

If anyone brought up the subject of fuel economy with a car like the Carrera GT, the saying, "Well if you have to ask…" would often follow, with the obvious understanding being that if you can afford the car you can afford the ludicrous amounts of premium unleaded needed to keep one on the road, but the mere price of entry is no longer the issue at hand.  It's all about the environment now, and doing the right thing no matter how much money you have.  Whereas the Carrera GT wasn't too bad at conserving fuel compared to other supercars at 10.0 L/100km in the city and 16.0 on the highway, the new 918 Spyder manages a shocking 3.0 L/100km (78 mph US) and a squeaky clean 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer! 

Under the aerodynamically shaped rear engine cover is a conventional (for a Porsche) 500hp V8, which in output alone is much less than the Carrera GT's 600+hp V12.  The differentiator is an electric motor for each axle, adding 160 kW (218hp) to the final mix. 

Hybrids aren't particularly new to Porsche, as the brand has been preparing a gasoline-electric hybrid drive system for some time now and will introduce it in the all-new 2011 Cayenne that debuts this week at the Geneva auto show, alongside this sports car concept.  While both are parallel hybrids, denoting their ability to run on gasoline, electricity, or both, the 918's drivetrain is a little more advanced than the one featured in the Cayenne.  The sports car's setup features a four-mode hybrid system, which allows for unbelievable efficiency, outrageous performance, or a combination of both depending on your mood. 

Maximum efficiency can be achieved by selecting E-Drive, a mode that will have the 918 Spyder tooling along on pure electric motivation, a feat it can continue for up to 26 km (16 miles).  Hybrid Mode is likely what most owners would use to get to and from the office each day, as it maximizes efficiency while making use of the gasoline engine when needed.  Sport Hybrid mode makes use of both power sources, but like the Lexus "Power" button allows for maximum juice in its vehicles, this mode lets the majority of engine power and electrical power flow through the system without much concern for efficiency.  The most energetic of the 918's modes is Race Hybrid, which means that maximum power flows through both drive systems when called upon to achieve blistering speed.  Porsche is going on record with a 7 minute 30 second lap time for the Nürburgring on its old extended Nordschleife (northern loop) track, driven while in Race Mode.  The German automaker has even included a push-to-pass button that increases power via the electrical system, while a regenerative braking system recoups otherwise spent energy. 
It's difficult to say whether or not Porsche will build the 918 Spyder, but take heed that the automaker doesn't normally spend a lot of money on projects that don't come to life in some shape or form.  The new Cayenne should boost sales significantly, and then if the Panamera sells reasonably well it's entirely possible a new flagship sports car could emerge, but something like the 918 Spyder won't come cheaply. 

On the production side, Porsche makes a note of telling us the 918 Spyder's cabin offers a good indication of the brand's future interiors, so give it a good once over if you want to see what your next Boxster, Cayman or 911 might look like.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Roadster, Hybrid, HEV, Porsche, 2010, 918 Spyder Concept, Hybrid,

Organizations: Porsche

Geographic location: Geneva

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