The mid-engined Porsche 918 Spyder - Highly Efficient and Ultra-Fast: Concept car with plug-in hybrid.
Australia. Porsche’s competence in Hybrid technology was further underlined this week at the Geneva International Motor Show with the reveal of the stunning 918 Spyder concept.
The 918 Spyder prototype combines high-tech racing features and electro-mobility to offer a fascinating range of qualities.
It is a concept that proves that low emissions and high-performance are not mutually exclusive. With emissions of just 70 grams of CO2 per kilometre on fuel consumption of three litres per 100 kms, the 918 Spyder has the frugality of an ultra-compact city car; yet on the other hand it has the performance of a super sports car with acceleration from a standstill to 100 km/h in just under 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 320 km/h.
The 918 Spyder will also have a lap time of less than 7 min 30 secs on the famous Nordschleife of Nürburgring – faster then even the Carrera GT.
In all, three Porsche Hybrids made their world debut at Geneva. The trio – made up of Porsche’s new Cayenne S Hybrid SUV with parallel full-hybrid drive, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid racing car with electric drive on the front axle and a flywheel mass battery, and the two-seater high-performance 918 Spyder mid-engined sports car with plug-in hybrid technology – clearly demonstrates not only the great bandwidth of this new drive technology, but also the innovative power of Porsche as a genuine pioneer in hybrid drive.
The highly innovative 918 Spyder concept car combines Porsche’s Intelligent Performance technology, high-tech in motorsport, and classic but modern design to make a truly convincing statement.
The open two-seater is powered by a high-performance V8 developing more than 368 kW (500 hp) running at maximum engine speed of 9,200 rpm, as well as electric motors on the front and rear axle offering an additional 160 kW.
The V8 is a further development of the highly successful 3.4-litre engine found in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) RS Spyder racer, positioned midship in front of the rear axle, giving the car the right set-up for supreme performance on the race track.
Power is transmitted to the wheels by a seven-speed PDK (Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe) gearbox which also feeds the power of the electric drive system to the rear axle. The front-wheel electric drive powers the front wheels through a locked transmission ratio.
The energy reservoir is a fluid-cooled lithium-ion battery positioned behind the passenger cell. The big advantage of a plug-in hybrid is that the battery can be charged on the regular electrical network. A further point is that the car’s kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy fed into the battery when applying the brakes, thereby providing additional energy for fast and dynamic acceleration.
A button on the steering wheel allows the driver to choose among four different running modes: The E-Drive mode is for running the car under electric power alone, with a range of up to 25 kms. In the Hybrid mode the 918 Spyder uses both the electric motors and the combustion engine as a function of driving conditions and requirements, offering a range from particularly fuel-efficient all the way to extra-powerful.
The Sport Hybrid mode uses both drive systems, but with the focus on performance. Most of the drive power goes to the rear wheels, with Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) serving to additionally improve the car’s driving dynamics.
In the Race Hybrid mode the drive systems are focused on pure performance with the highest standard of driving dynamics on the track, running at the limit to their power and output. With the battery sufficiently charged, a push-to-pass button feeds in additional electrical power (E-Boost), for example when overtaking or for even better performance.
With the hybrid drive system offering this wide range of individual modes and applications, the 918 Spyder is able either to achieve lap times comparable to those of a thoroughbred racing car – such as less than 7 min 30 secs on the Nordschleife of Nürburgring – or, focusing on a more economical style of driving, with a reduction in emissions to just 70 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
Like the drivetrain, the lightweight body structure of the 918 Spyder also bears out the car’s DNA carried over directly from motorsport: The modular structure with its monocoque bodyshell made of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFP) and the appropriate use of magnesium and aluminium not only reduce weight to less than 1,490 kg, but also ensure supreme driving precision thanks to the very high level of torsional stiffness.
Reminiscent of highly successful, legendary racing cars such as the Porsche 917 Le Mans and the current Porsche RS Spyder, the 918 Spyder with its design concept so typical of Porsche arouses powerful emotions. The combination of racing car dimensions, clearly structured design with perfectly balanced surfaces, and innovative details all round creates an overall pattern of aesthetic, perfectly balanced harmony. This is the ideal synthesis of form and function following Porsche’s design DNA.
The smooth balance of tradition and progress gives the car a powerful stance on the road in its combination of dimensions. Variable aerodynamics typical of Porsche ensure both visionary and traditional highlights especially around the rear spoiler. The striking rear body covers extending out of the headrests, in turn, not only fulfil an aerodynamic function on the 918 Spyder, but also accommodate retractable air intakes with a ram air function.
The three free-standing circular dasboard dials for road speed (left), engine speed (middle) and energy management (right) appear to come directly from a racing car in the ‘60s, bearing out that unique philosophy of driver orientation so characteristic of Porsche.
The centre console rising up towards the front in the 918 Spyder houses a touch-sensitive surface for intuitive control of the car’s functions, serving consistently to reduce the number of visible controls and maintain the principle of direct operation.
The control units relevant to the driver are concentrated in particular on the three-spoke multifunction sports steering wheel, while the variable driving modes are supplemented by a map switch enabling the driver to call up various drive programs and serving as the push-to-pass button for E-Boost. Instrument illumination, finally, varies from green for the consumption-oriented running modes to red for the performance-oriented driving programs.
The 918 Spyder also comes with further innovative functions such as the Range Manager. After being activated in the Center Display, the Range Manager uses the map in the navigation system to present the remaining range the car is able to cover, allowing the driver to influence that range through the appropriate choice of power and performance.
In cities with environmental alert areas the Range Manager also states whether the driver is able to reach a certain destination on electric power alone. Applying this information and using further info on the availability and location of special energy filling stations, the driver is then able to choose his personal style of driving as well as the right battery charge and filling strategy.
Offering a unique combination of extremely low fuel consumption, supreme performance and long electric range, the Porsche 918 Spyder represents an essential milestone in Porsche’s strategy on the way to genuine electro-mobility.