Porsche’s New Charge: The 918 Spyder

The 918 Spyder, with its high-tech 887-hp hybrid engine, is setting records and the standard for other manufacturers.

When Porsche first unveiled the concept for its $845,000, range-topping supercar, its level of technological complexity baffled gearheads. A hybrid drivetrain? That seemed more like a science exhibit than a workable blueprint for the future of speed. And wouldn’t the final production model be far too heavy? Four years later, the skeptics are eating their words and choking on a cloud of burning rubber: The Porsche 918 Spyder is here, and the convertible, carbon-fiber hybrid is fast. Ungodly fast. Here’s why: Way before its flat-crank, 4.6-liter V-8 gets a chance to hit its epic 9,150 rpm redline, the 918’s two independent battery-powered motors kick in. The immediate surge they provide teams up with the conventional engine, enabling it to run from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and hit 214 mph. It’s smart, too. Each time it’s braked for a turn, the 918 recaptures lost energy, then unharnesses it as soon as you’re back on the gas. That slingshot effect, along with its other Death Star–worthy digital innovations, recently gave the 887-horsepower Spyder the fastest production time ever at Germany’s Nürburgring track, taking the 12.8-mile run in less than seven minutes. The doubters are now convinced that the 918 points the way forward. But they’d better act fast. Only 918 individual cars are being produced.    

Dialed In

The 918’s instrument panel features five drive modes, from E-Power, which goes on battery power alone, all the way to Hot Lap, which enables “push-to-pass” bursts of speed.    

Racing Cred

The Spyder’smonocoque structure is built from a lightweight, superstiff carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer Porsche developed for its Le Mans racecars.  

Going Topless

Although Ferrari and McLaren recently unleashed similarly speedy hybrids, the Porsche is the only hard- top convertible of the bunch; 214 mph feels faster without a roof. 

Loud and Proud

Two top pipes sitting behind the driver’s and passenger’s heads release the 918’s beastly roar. Sneaking around? E-Power mode is nearly silent.   

Spoiler Alert 

A massive carbon-fiber rear wing adjusts its angle depending on how you’re driving in Race Mode. Maximum downforce keeps you glued to the road. 

Wheel Smart  

Each of the all-wheel-drive 918’s wheels—not just the fronts—contribute to steering. At high speeds, the back wheels provide much-needed stability.