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Porsche gives shape to 918 Spyder

Hitting the road: A lightly disguised Porsche 918 Spyder in tarmac testing.

Blistering plug-in hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder appears in advanced prototype form

Porsche logo16 May 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

PORSCHE is putting the final touches to the 918 Spyder plug-in range-extender supercar before production begins at the end of September next year, after unveiling the most advanced prototype to date.

Official images released today show a lightly-camouflaged car in circuit testing, giving the clearest indication yet of the final design of the limited-edition model.

The test car features a black and white striped paint scheme that pays homage to the iconic red and white 917 racer that won the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hour.

The images also clearly show the 918’s unique “top-pipe” arrangement, with a pair of exhaust manifolds mounted on either side of the rear-mounted engine and twin pipes directly behind both front seats.

The latest images come just six weeks after the German car-maker displayed a test ‘mule’ in development at the Nardo circuit in Italy while cloaked in a mix of 911 panels and other makeshift pieces.

Porsche claims that the 918’s combination of a race-bred 4.6-litre V8 petrol engine and electric motors on each axle produce combined power of 566kW, giving the car a projected zero to 100km/h sprint time of below three seconds.

The German car-maker previously predicted that this powertrain would propel the car around the Nurburgring in less than 7:22 minutes – at least 10 seconds faster than the legendary Carrera GT.

25 center imageThis blistering performance is said to be coupled with fuel economy “in the region of” 3.0-litres per 100km – close to 25 per cent better than a Toyota Prius.

In a statement accompanying the latest images, Porsche said that initial results from the driving trials “were in line with the high expectations placed in the 918 Spyder”.

Porsche will build just 918 examples of the ultra-exclusive car, all in left-hand drive, priced from €645,000 ($A866,000) in Europe, with the first customers to receive their car before the end of 2013.

This will blow out to around $1.3 million in Australia if someone wants one for their garage collection and is willing to pay a whopping $420,000 tax bill to get it.

The production 918 will feature a full carbon fibre reinforced monocoque, adaptive rear-axle steering and “fully adaptive” aerodynamics.

The two-seater is fitted with two electric motors – an 80kW unit driving the front wheels and a 90kW unit situated between the mid-mounted 425kW V8 engine and dual-clutch transmission sending power through the rear wheels.

The pair of motors source power from a 6.8kWh lithium-ion battery that is liquid-cooled and can be charged from a power point for a full-charge electric-only range of about 25km.

Top speed is said to be 325km/h, or 150km/h on electric power alone.

A new-generation regenerative braking system – in which both electric motors apply stopping force through all four wheels – is paired with high-performance ceramic disc brakes.

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