2015 Porsche 918 Spyder first drive
The hybrid that’s a true supercar
Valencia, Spain – Everyone wants to know how fast Porsche's new 918 is. It's a fair question, what with the new super-hybrid — the 918 is powered by a racing-inspired 4.6-litre V8 and no less than two electric motors — boasting no less than 887 horsepower. Even in this age of inflated, indeed turbocharged, horsepower claims, 887 still stands tall.
And so do the rest of the 918's numbers. According to Porsche, the Weissach edition (41 kilograms lighter and US$84,000 more expensive than the US$845,000 "basic" 918) accelerates to 100 km/h in 2.6 seconds, to 200 km/h in a short 7.2 ticks of a Rolex and to 300 in just 19.9 tick-tocks. It will also, given more room than the kilometre-long front straight at the Ricardo Tormo racetrack in Valencia, Spain, hit 345 km/h.
Yes, I hear you saying, I can read the spec sheet too. But does it feel fast?
There’s fast …
Well, then, I will try to add a little context. If you delve into those numbers a little further, you'll see that up to 200 km/h, the 918 Spyder is as fast or faster than a Bugatti Veyron Gran Sport. Yes, the full-fat 1,200-hp version. And, indeed, rocketing down the aforementioned straightaway at the Circuit de Valencia, it certainly felt faster than the Grand Sport I drove, which, until now has been credited with being the fastest production car (sort of) available to the public.
Naysayers will note that the 918's zero-to-300 km/h is actually behind the Bugatti's (and McLaren's as-yet-untested P1). I have no reason to doubt the veracity of those claims, though the one thing I can assure you of is that, when you're bombing down Ricardo Tormo's back straight at 285 km/h about to miss your brake marker, the last thing you're wishing for is more speed.
… and then there’s fast
And one final bit of perspective regarding the 918's turn of speed. I can't be absolutely sure, but I think the electrified Porsche is faster than the only Formula One car I have tested, Damon's Hill's 1997 Arrows A18. Of course, F1 cars don't have speedos so any comparison is guesswork, but I don't remember being this frightened braking into turn one (that may be because the F1 car's brakes were so phenomenal) while testing the Arrows at this very same racetrack. And by point of disclosure, the A18 had been detuned with an 'everyday' Cosworth V8 filling in for the rare-as-hen's-teeth Yamaha V10.
Nonetheless, driving a production car (Porsche has promised to build 918, er, 918s) faster than even an admittedly slow Formula One racer is over-the-top impressive. Indeed, those looking for gut-level context, know this: Every time I hit the 918's loud pedal, it felt like I was caught in one of those cartoonish escape scenes with the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. That the 918 is also a four-wheel drive, plug-in electric hybrid that purports to superior fuel efficiency — Porsche claims a thoroughly outlandish 3.0 L/100 kilometres, for gosh sake — just makes its speed all the more outlandish.
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