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Future models - Porsche - 918

Insane Porsche 918 Spyder detailed

Eating cake too: Porsche's 918 Spyder plug-in is supercar-fast and hybrid-frugal.

Forthcoming Porsche 918 plug-in hybrid is faster than a Lambo, greener than a Prius

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Porsche logo17 May 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

PORSCHE’S first-ever plug-in hybrid supercar will have the firepower to give other petrol-electric exotica including the LaFerrari and McLaren P1 a run for their money.

That, at least, is according to the raft of information the German company released about the 918 overnight ahead of the car’s full reveal in September.

The hybrid hypercar was designed, developed and produced by Porsche racing engineers to be the fastest and priciest – yet greenest – Porsche road car to date.

Fittingly, only 918 units will be produced, and while its left-hand drive layout doesn’t meet Australian Design Rules meaning it can’t legally drive on our roads, the company says there’s nothing stopping a cashed-up collector grabbing one.

That is as long as they’re willing to fork out an estimated $A1.3 million, including more than $400,000 in Australian taxes. Porsche Australia says it knows of no such people, although reports out of Europe indicate not all cars in the limited run are sold – unlike the rarer LaFerrari.

The third member of an exclusive clique of go-fast greenies – supercars with hybrid drivetrains – is propelled by a combination of a mid-mounted 447kW/530Nm 4.6-litre V8 turbo petrol engine paired with a hybrid module, comprised of a 115kW electric motor on the rear axle and an engine decoupler.

A hardcore version of Porsche’s seven-speed dual-clutch “PDK” automatic sends power from the engine to the rear axle, and can decouple or disengage the larger power sources when the car is in coasting mode, conserving fuel.

Meantime, the front wheels are powered by a smaller 95kW motor mounted on the forward axle, giving the car all-wheel-drive. It also has an electric-only range of about 30km, and a pure electric top speed of 150km/h (340km/h in full flight with the V8 running).

Total combined outputs are listed as 653kW and 800Nm (from a mere 800rpm all the way through to 5300rpm), while the engine can rev out to a high 9150rpm. Top-venting twin exhaust tail pipes – unique to a road car – shed more heat.

This falls short of the LaFerrari (708kW/900Nm) and P1 (673kW/900Nm), however, its zero to 100km/h sprint time of 2.8 seconds matches up to its more muscular rivals.

Despite being faster than a Lamborghini Aventador, the 918’s claimed combined fuel use on the US cycle is just 3.3 litres per 100km with carbon dioxide emissions of just 77 grams per kilometre  making it cleaner and more fuel-efficient than a Toyota Prius.

Electric energy is stored in a 6.8kWh lithium-ion battery with 312 individual cells, liquid-cooled by a dedicated unit. Plugging it into a wall can charge the cells in around four hours.

In order to keep weight down to a respectable 1640kg (not bad considering it has three power supplies), Porsche used a carbonfibre structure. By mounting all components weighing more than 50kg as low and centrally as possible, it has lowered the centre of gravity and biased power delivery to the rear axle with a weight distribution of 57:43.

The motorsport-inspired multilink chassis is paired with an electromechanical steering system at each rear wheel, as well as the fronts, with the back hoops able to turn at up to three degrees in either direction to aid agility.

In September 2012, test mules completed a lap of the famed Nurburgring in Germany in 7 minutes and 14 seconds, in the presence of motoring writers – 10 seconds quicker than a 911 GT2 RS, and a Nissan GT-R.

The 918 has four driving modes, adjusting to help it stick to the road or improve fuel economy. In “Race” mode, the retractable rear wing and two underfloor flaps improve downforce, while in “E-Power” and “Hybrid” modes, they close to reduce drag. “Sport” mode is somewhere in between.

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