Jason Barlow testdrives and reviews the Porsche 918 Spyder GQ COM (UK)

20 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Jason Barlow testdrives and reviews the Porsche 918 Spyder GQ COM (UK) отключены
Porsche 918 Electric Cars

Along came a Spyder.

With a top speed of 214mph and five driving modes, the new Porsche 918 hypercar’s got bite, says Jason Barlow

There are various ways of working out how fast a car really is. Most obviously, there’s the stopwatch, against which Porsche’s new £715,000 918 Spyder is little short of ballistic. It’ll do 60mph in 2.5 seconds, 124mph in 7.2, 186mph in less than 20, and 214mph flat out.

In all the key increments, it’ll search out the Bugatti Veyron and dismantle its claim to world’s fastest status with pathological attention to detail.

Then there’s the Nürburgring circuit. Now firmly established as the definitive testing — and marketing — battleground for the big players, the 918 has nailed a lap of this near-14-mile pressure cooker in six minutes 57 seconds. That’s an almost cosmically fast time for what is, when all’s said and done, a road car.

And Porsche reckons it can go faster still.

But you know you’re in a car liberally sprinkled with next-level genius when even the company test driver struggles to get away from you. Especially when the driver in question is the legendary Walter Röhrl, a former double world rally champion. Yet even armed with a weapons-grade Porsche 911 Turbo S, Röhrl can’t shake off the 918 as we follow him down the main straight of the Ricardo Tormo Moto GP circuit near Valencia.

Through the fast corners he has the 911 visibly dancing on the limit, where the 918 remains well within itself. Extraordinary.

It’s hard not to come over hyperbolic about this new Porsche hypercar. It arrives at the same time as McLaren’s P1 and Ferrari’s ludicrously named but otherwise mind-blowing LaFerrari. All three can lay claim to changing the game, and there are intriguing philosophical differences that delineate roughly along German, British and Italian lines.

Most significantly, all three are hybrids, at a … permitting that oft-maligned green technology to slough off its Prius piety and show what it can do to enhance performance, as well as reduce emissions. Well, it’s about time.

Porsche has taken the last part of the equation further than its rivals: in the 918, the driver can choose from five different modes, ingeniously tapping into the car’s race-bred 4.6-litre, 608bhp V8 and two electric motors — worth around another 286bhp combined — in a variety of ways. This is how we found ourselves in the midst of a multimillion-pound convoy, tripping silently on zero-emission pure electric power only, through Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela’s suitably trippy City Of Arts And Sciences in Valencia. The 918 can do this for around 25 miles, an unimpeachably cool party trick that also allows Porsche to claim an average fuel economy figure of 94mpg and emissions of 70g/km. Not even the saintliest of drivers will ever get near that in reality, but it’ll still do 30mpg, even when you’re really going for it.


Porsche 918 Electric Cars

And that really is astonishing in the context of its sky-scraping performance.

Despite the all-electric cleverness, however, the 918 remains a fabulous advert for internal combustion. Based on the unit in Porsche’s RS Spyder endurance racer, its 4.6-litre V8 revs to 9,150rpm, and makes a nape-tingling noise while it does it. The V8 is hooked up to an electric motor that sends a mountainous amount of torque to the rear wheels, the electric bit doing its thing at low revs before the petrol engine comes on song further up the rev range.

The second electric motor acts on the front axle, to provide additional traction and effectively turning the 918 into an all-wheel drive car, while even more electronics distribute all this power and energy to the wheels that need it most.

It sounds and is furiously complicated, but at no point on a hot lap — and there’s a red button on the wheel that sets you up for exactly that — does any of it obscure the messages passed to your hands. The 918’s steering and chassis responses are linear and confidence-inspiring, the gear changes on its PDK dual-shift ‘box eye-blink fast, and the whole thing manages to be genuinely electrifying without straining every sinew the driver has, as was so often the way with mid-engined supercars.

Porsche has also gone to the trouble of re-imagining its interior multimedia telematics, and the 918’s controls are arranged in an Ives-esque touchscreen bridge. It’s an easy car to see out of and use, and magnificently well made, all of which lends itself to a remarkably Zen-like driving experience in full-electric mode.

Kick-start that V8, though, and the 918 transcends everything you thought you knew about high-performance cars. Truly, there has never been anything quite like it.

Porsche 918 Electric Cars
Porsche 918 Electric Cars
Porsche 918 Electric Cars
Porsche 918 Electric Cars
Porsche 918 Electric Cars

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