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Porsche 918 Spyder (2013) at Frankfurt motor show

Published: 09 September 2013

This is the new Porsche 918 Spyder, and it’s just been unveiled on the eve of the 2013 Frankfurt motor show. The Porsche 918 Spyder is the successor to the legendary Carrera GT, uses a race-derived engine, hits 62mph in 2.8 seconds, and will reach 214mph.

But the Porsche 918 Spyder is also very different to the Carrera GT, because it’s a hybrid and promises Toyota Prius-like levels of parsimony. The focus on both fuel efficiency and flat-out performance means the 918 Spyder perhaps won’t be quite as potent as LaFerrari and McLaren P1, but the differences will be marginal and only those two rivals and a Bugatti Veyron will keep pace with this new Porsche supercar.

>> Click here for CAR's A-Z guide to the 2013 Frankfurt motor show

What’s the race-derived engine powering the new Porsche 918 Spyder?

The 4.6-litre V8 engine is related to the 3.4-litre V8 that once powered Porsche’s RS Spyder LMP2 racer, but engineered to offer the refinement expected of a road car, and comply with the latest emissions regulations. It produces 599bhp at 8700rpm (a massive 131bhp-per-litre, and the highest of any naturally aspirated Porsche engine), revs to 9150rpm, and drives the rear wheels via a seven-speed twin-clutch PDK gearbox. The V8 is mid-mounted, and its exhausts sprout from atop the engine, venting through the rear deck of the 918 Spyder.

Isn’t the Porsche 918 Spyder a hybrid?

It is, so that V8 engine isn’t the only motor powering this Porsche supercar. There are two additional electric motors, one for each axle, so the 918 is actually four-wheel drive. It’s a parallel hybrid, which means the rear axle can be driven by either the V8 petrol engine, the 115kW (154bhp) electric motor, or both powertrains together; the 95kW (127bhp) motor on the front axle drives the wheels at a fixed gear ratio, but decouples above 147mph. The combined outputs of the hybrid system are 875bhp, and 676-944lb ft depending on the gear.

To take advantage of the electrified powertrain there are five different modes, so you can take full advantage of the performance of all three motors, or use the battery power to achieve some remarkable fuel consumption figures…

E-Power: Full EV mode, with a range of 20 miles, but still able to hit 62mph in less than seven seconds and reach 93mph

Hybrid: Twin electric motors and V8 engine work alternately, to achieve maximum fuel efficiency

Sport Hybrid: V8 operates continuously, with electric motors aiding acceleration

Race Hybrid: Petrol engine and PDK gearbox in maximum attack mode, with e-motors also running at their peak output, and batteries charged more intensively by the V8 whenever maximum power is not required

Hot Lap: Uses all the available energy in the battery

What else do I need to know about the Porsche 918 Spyder?

The torque at each axle can be independently controlled for torque vectoring, the lithium-ion batteries have a 7kWh capacity, plus plug-in capability so they can charge in four hours from Porsche’s Universal Charger or just 25 minutes with its Speed Charging Station.

The chassis is a carbonfibre monocoque with carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) bodywork, there’s a two-piece removable targa roof, plus adaptive dampers, rear-wheel steering, carbon-ceramic brakes, and the same Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres you’ll find on the new Porsche 911 GT3. There’s also active aerodynamics: the E-mode makes the 918 as slippery as possible for optimum fuel efficiency; Sport raises the rear wing; and Race extends the rear wing still further and opens two flaps in the underbody.

Porsche has so far said little about the 918’s interior, but it features a steering wheel that includes a dial that controls the five configurable powertrain modes, and a new touchscreen infotainment system.

Porsche 918 Spyder: the Weissach Package

Not sure your standard Porsche 918 is quick enough to take on LaFerrari and the McLaren P1? Then Porsche offers an optional performance upgrade for the 918 Spyder, the Weissach Package, named after Porsche’s test track. It pushes the 918’s price up from €781,550 to €853,155, for which you get magnesium wheels (they alone save 35kg), six-point race harnesses, carbonfibre aero aids, and the option to have your car wrapped in a lightweight film rather than painted.

Go all out on the Weissach Package and your 918 will weigh in at 1634kg, plus hit 62mph in just 2.8 seconds and reach 214mph flat out. Experiencing that performance will be much more fun than driving the 918 Spyder gently and trying to match Porsche’s claims of 94mpg and 70g/km CO2 in E-Power mode.

Anything else?

Porsche will also officially unveil the new 911 Turbo and Turbo S tomorrow at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show, and a special edition of the Carrera S to celebrate the 911’s 50th anniversary.

>> Click here to read CAR's first drive review of the Porsche 918 Spyder prototype

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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