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    Porsche 918 Spyder: What It’s Like To Race In Porsche’s $845,000 Hybrid Hypercar...

     
    (28 December 2012)
     
    The Porsche 918 is still a prototype, but now some outsiders are getting rides. Bob Rouleau got a chance to ride in the car earlier in December...
     
    I was fortunate to be invited to the 918 event at Barber Motorsports Park this past week. The Porsche 918 Spyder is still a prototype but many of the important elements are production ready. Note that a number of things I describe may be tweaked when the production car is finalized. We'll have a wait a while for true specifications to be finalized. So with that in mind here's what I learned.
     
    What is the 918?
     
     
    It's a supercar. It has already done the North Loop in 7:12 seconds from a standing start... in traffic! The car was not being driven by one of the factory hot shoes, rather the guy who tests tires. Speculation is that in the hands of Walter Rohrl we'll see 7:10. That's 20 seconds faster than the Carrera GT!
     
    Beyond being just a Super (duper) car, the 918 is a showcase for Porsche's advanced hybrid technology. When we think of a hybrid, most think Prius and boring. Not this time.
     
    With two electric motors having a combined 275 HP (limited to 245 HP) and 295 lbs/ft of torque and a 4.6 liter V8 derived from the RS Spyder the car has a combined 795 HP. Not a bad start.
     
    One electric motor drives the front wheels, the other the rear in tandem with the V8. The result is all-wheel drive with a desired rear wheel bias. Leaving out an additional drive shaft and the usual center differential reduced weight and enhances the low center of gravity.
     
    The electric motors provide maximum torque at zero RPM so acceleration off the line is breathtaking –- expect a 0-60 time of around 2.8 seconds. Over the rev range of the V8 the electric motors flatten the torque curve for great throttle response.
     
    The technology doesn't end there. In certain modes, the hybrid system is akin to KERS on Formula One car. This is a certainly a by-product of the fabulous GT3 R hybrid race car. More about this in a little bit.
     
    The 918 has a "Map" control on the steering wheel –- Ferrari owners will think of the "Manettino" on the 430 or 458. Unlike the Ferrari, this one has a Push to Pass button! Gotta love it, and I did.
     
     
    In E-mode the car is all electric. It can cover 15 miles without using the gas engine. By the way, this isn't 15 miles of hyper-miling, the car will accelerate to 90 miles per hour on battery alone. I can tell you that acceleration in E-Mode is brisk! In the car, it sounds like you're riding in a turbine powered vehicle. Very cool, think Batmobile sounds.
     
    The battery back is good for 202 Kilowatts and is capable of delivering that power for 160 seconds. That's a bit over 274 HP by the way. And 295 pound feet of torque is available from a dead stop.
     
    The Modes
     
    In Hybrid mode you get both the gas and the electric engine cooperating with a view to maximum efficiency without compromising every-day performance. This is the mode for street and highway driving. Believe it or not you might see something like 70 MPG! In a supercar? And no, that's not a typo.
     
    In Sport Hybrid Mode the gas engine runs all the time for more enthusiastic driving, perhaps best left to race tracks.The battery is charged by regenerative braking as well as the V8.
     
    Race Hybrid Mode (yeah!) the gas engine runs all the time, and continuously charges the battery pack. Throttle response is sharper and PDK shifts are faster.
     
    Hot Lap Mode (yee hah!) here comes push to pass, yes there is a button in the center of the Map switch which gives you the full power of the gas and electric motors combined. Now you understand my prior reference to F1 style KERS!
     
    Having said that, Hot Lap mode can drain the battery back in 160 seconds — which means you would have exceeded 200 MPH long before the battery pack was exhausted — heck you get to 60MPH from a standing start in less than 3 seconds, so you wonder what you do the rest of the time. While we didn't do enough laps to be sure, I suspect that we'd never fully exhaust the battery pack unless we needed push to pass an awful lot.
     
     
    Consider that without using hot lap mode, we recharged the battery to 93 percent in just two laps! That's after having depleted the battery a bit by doing a fast lap in. Do you start to see the resemblance to F1 KERS? Batteries are charged by energy recovery under braking as well as by the gas engine.
     
    Remember, there are few if any road racing circuits which permit full power for more than 50-60 percent of a lap.
     
    Assuming that you drained the battery by using E-Mode (electric only), normal city or highway driving in Hybrid will recharge the battery in only 7 minutes!
     
    While I'm praising Porsche's hybrid advances, know that the 918 is a plug-in. On a regular 120 volt wall outlet full charge takes 5.5 hours. With the optional rapid charger and 220 volt 30 AMP circuit (think electric stove or clothes dryer for example) it takes 2 hours.
     
    Like those annoying commercials, BUT THAT'S NOT ALL. With a 50 AMP circuit it takes about 30 minutes! Now that's a fast charge which will take you to the office without using a drop of gas. FWIW, my Wolf cooktop uses a 220 Volt 50 AMP circuit so this is no big deal for an electrician. Speaking of which, Porsche dealers are certifying a list of electricians capable of installing the rapid chargers up to Porsche quality standards and they'll have 30 minute charging stations at their dealerships. Have a coffee and charge the car. Nice!
     
    How is it on the track?
     
    Sadly we weren't allowed to drive the 918, there are only two prototypes and very few people qualified by PAG to drive them. I rode with Daniel Eastman who will be familiar to anyone who has taken the PSDS course at Barber. As a PCA instructor I couldn't help noticing that Daniel is exceptionally smooth – but you'd expect that. The important thing is that I was totally comfortable in the passenger seat and could concentrate 100 percent on how the car behaved.
     
    Our first lap was in E-mode – totally electric. I was surprised by the acceleration, this was not a Prius or a Chevy Volt! Notwithstanding a full and fast lap using only the battery we still had lots of power for a hot lap using every bit of gas and electric power. And, what a lap that was.
     
    The 918 turns in as if on a mission from God. I watched Daniel's hands, this is no 911 (which does resist turn in a little). In fact he remarked that his first laps in the car had him early to the apex.
     
    The car is amazingly stable -– it there was absolutely no sensation except cornering on rails. This, on both the hairpins and high speed corners.
     
    The car has ideal weight distribution 57 percent in back and 43 in front, like an open wheeler. But, that isn't all. The 918 has 4-wheel steering, At low speeds (think hairpin) the rear wheels counter-steer to help turn-in. On high-speed corners they steer with the front wheels. The net result is to effectively shorten the wheelbase for slow corners and lengthen it for fast sweepers. I can testify that it works!
     
    Body roll was nil. I wondered if it had active roll bars as offered on some other models. To my surprise it did not. The weight has been kept so low that the 918 corners flat without additional heavy components.
     
    The battery pack is mounted dead bottom in the center of the chassis. The V8 engine weighs only 300 lbs. and produces 126 HP per liter –- a record for normally aspirated Porsche engines. With a dry sump it‘s also mounted low in the carbon fiber chassis. Note that the tub and the engine cradle are both carbon fiber.
     
    The brakes are very powerful and considering that the two prototypes were lapping all day, their endurance is without question. I asked Daniel whether the transition from regenerative braking to conventional braking was noticeable. He said that it was subtle, but good drivers would notice it. The transition to conventional brakes only happens after you apply more than 24 lbs of pressure to the brake pedal. This is about 3 times more than on a Prius for instance. His opinion is that the transition was very smooth and a benefit since you can decide to use more progressing braking to recharge the battery more quickly before another banzai run. Very well done.
     
    The hot lap was blindingly fast and this in spite of the fact the V8 was limited to only 6,000 RPM – production will be 9,000 with the power peak at 8,500.
     
    Yet another benefit of the hybrid drive system is the torque from the synchronous AC motors. Combining the two results in much flatter torque curve, not only off the line but anywhere in the power band making the high revving gas engine even more responsive.
     
     
    For a guy who isn't into hybrid cars I have to admit, I liked this system. A lot. Through advanced engineering Porsche has managed to give us a "green" car which uses it's "greenness" to actually enhance performance across the board. In sum, this is my kind of Hybrid and with about 70 MPG in normal driving, the kind of green I could live with!
     
    The 918 is a Spyder with two carbon fiber removable roof panels which fit neatly in the front trunk. With the panels stored there is still room for a soft luggage bag or two. With the panels installed the trunk is similar to a 997 or 991. Not bad for a supercar.
     
    Comparisons to the Carrera GT are inevitable. The 918 is a bit longer and a bit wider due to new safety standards which will be in place by the time deliveries start. It is also about 300 pounds heavier in spite of the increased use of carbon fiber. Again, safety stuff and the battery pack are the culprits. The curb weight is around 3,700 lbs. I've had seat time in the C-GT and there is no doubt that the 918 Spyder is much more stable and confidence inspiring. The Carrera GT is a bit nervous as you approach the limit whereas the 918 inspires confidence.
     
    If you wonder why, consider that it has a lower center of gravity and active aerodynamics. And I don't mean just a wing that extrudes itself over 75 MPH like a 911. Rather the wing can and will adjust its angle depending on speed. Not only that but various flaps including a pair on the front end will open and or close to further increase downforce. In short the car has two aero modes. Low drag for normal driving with best economy and maximum downforce mode for very high speeds. From personal experience on Barber's "technical" (instructor term for scary) high speed 100 MPH plus corners, the car was planted. Period. I mean really planted in a way that even a GT3 cup is not. Oh, this, on street tires which are not the final spec and are expected to have more grip.
     
    Options?
     
    As you'd expect there are a lot of options. You can have your Spyder wrapped in Martini Racing colors or, a Strauss Racing motif. Stunning both, but sure to attract the attention of law enforcement. In addition to "paint to sample" colors, the 918 has two exclusive paint schemes in "Liquid Metal".
     
     
    One is similar to Artic Silver and the other like my favorite Polar Silver, i.e., silver with a nuance of blue. The Liquid metal paint is unique in that the metal particles are aligned as opposed to being random as is typical. It's a ten part process with three iterations of buffing between various coats. It has a subtle 3D effect and it's stunning. Now for the bad news, it costs $63,000 (that is not a typo) extra. I asked, and yes it can be repaired if some idiot dings your door.
     
    If you're one of the 918 buyers, that is Porsche will produce only that many and this is guaranteed by contract, you'll get the benefit of a personal VIP assistant who will inform and help you every step of the way up to and including visiting a Special Wishes Center to customize your car. There are three centers, one at the factory, one in New Jersey (NYC really) and one on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. A 918 buyer also gets first call on any new model Porsche offers in the future.
     
    Speaking of future, the battery pack is attached with 4 bolts and can be easily removed and replaced. It has an eight-year warranty. If battery technology improves, Porsche will supply a compatible pack using the newer technology to ensure that the 918 is as future-proof as possible.
     
    For track drivers an interesting option is the Weissach package. Some painted surfaces are left in polished carbon fiber to save weight, interior leather is swapped out for fire resistant fabric, and AC and the Burmester sound system is left out. Lightweight magnesium wheels reduce unsprung weight and 6 point harnesses come with the car. This trims the weight by 77 lbs. You can put back AC and the radio if you choose at no extra cost.
     
    What didn't I like?
     
     
    The color scheme for the 918 uses "acid green" – a fluorescent green color which I associate with kids and tricked out Hondas. Ugh. It's on the brake calipers and piping on the interior. I hope changing it for a more mature color is a no cost option.
     
    The V8 engine doesn't sound much different from a Corvette or Boss Mustang. To be fair, we were stuck with a 6,000 RPM red line and perhaps it wails appropriately at higher RPM. Porsche is aware of this and promises that the exhaust note will be tuned for production cars. Let's face it the spine tingling sound of a C-GT V10 is a tough act to follow!
     
    I also think that the front-lift option should be standard. Ferrari included it on the (cheaper) Enzo after all. Since the 918 is low the front lift kit is a requirement as far as I'm concerned. Speaking of low, getting in the car is a bit of a shock, you sit very low and it will take a bit of practice to enter and leave the car gracefully. On the other hand the lowness is one of the reasons the car's handling is so good.
     
    Is it worth it?
     
    That depends on your disposable income I suppose. It is an outstanding streetable uber-supercar which can blow by race cars with ease (check the ring time) or, sip fuel as you chose. All in all a technological tour de force!
     

    Porsche 918 Spyder passenger ride at Barber Motorsports Park...

    Porsche 918 Spyder passenger ride -- Video Link

    Smiley SmileySmiley


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    porsche-918-atelier-home.jpg


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    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    Scary picture!!!


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    talking about complexity.....


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    One more....

    pX0xi.jpg


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    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    High res pic's from 918 event at Barber Motorsports Park this past week

    Thank's to Bob Rouleau

    P1000314.jpgP1000317.jpgP1000320.JPG


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    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    I love the front. 


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    SportCarGroup:

    One more....

    pX0xi.jpg


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    Its not a car, its a spaceshipSmiley Amazing level of engineering!


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    sportcars-history.com


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    indeed, looks more like a Nasa lab  angel


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    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    kiss


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    Do they give prospective owners maintenance costs on this car? I know,I know, if you can afford to buy this car maintenance costs are the least of your worries.

     Also, where do they get it serviced? It appears to be a very complex car requiring considerable training for service people. I cannot imagine a dealership selling more than one or two of these cars. The equipment and training of the service tech will be expensive.


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    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    My understanding, after speaking with the service manager at my dealership, is that Porsche dealers are required to provide service for the 918 They will be installing  a charging charging station and much like the Carrera GT,  a dealer  Technician will receive training, plus the dealership  will be required to purchase service tools.  Regardless of whether the dealer  has sold  918s or not, the dealer service organization needs to have service capabilities. 


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    2006 997 C2S Cab, Triple Black,  2006 Cayenne Titanium Iceland Silver Metalic New York


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    The Porsche 918 Spyder in Sweden for cold weather testing!

    m1ny7hbbrb8u.jpgm1ny7hbbss92.jpgm1ny7hbbnq8w.jpgm1ny7hbbpa8v.jpgm1ny7hgbm393.jpgm1ny7hcb0c8y.jpgm1ny7hbblt8x.jpgm1ny7hbbwf90.jpgm1ny7hbbus91.jpg

     


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    Note the above winter testing mules #15 and #16, they are both Weissach Package performance models.. also note how the front hood is covered by camo... so expect some different intake ala race car probably like the GT40 had. Very interesting.


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    It's quite easy to say the price seems reasonable, knowing  one won't be headed my way anytime soon. With stupid money I'd get one & a Gulfstream 650. any guesses as to what the developmental costs of the 918 may add to the cost of other pedestrian Porsches.


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    roadtrip:

    It's quite easy to say the price seems reasonable, knowing  one won't be headed my way anytime soon. With stupid money I'd get one & a Gulfstream 650. any guesses as to what the developmental costs of the 918 may add to the cost of other pedestrian Porsches.

    It wouldn't have been allowed to get this far if it wasn't expected to pay its own way, including its own development costs.    


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    fritz


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    Talking about development costs and comparing them to competition: P1 and F150.... Simply compare amount of prototypes and testing. Porsche has made more than 20 protos. Ferrari - only 3. Mclaren ?


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    sportcars-history.com


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    I am not sure I understand. Are you saying the car will pay for itself based on the price it is being sold at OR the investment in technology will migrate down to other Porsche models thereby saving similar costs? I don't know how many 918's have been sold but a car of this stature would be expensive to develop and you would need to sell many of them to recoup cost.Smiley


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    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    nberry:

    I am not sure I understand. Are you saying the car will pay for itself based on the price it is being sold at OR the investment in technology will migrate down to other Porsche models thereby saving similar costs? I don't know how many 918's have been sold but a car of this stature would be expensive to develop and you would need to sell many of them to recoup cost.Smiley

    ........ or sell a smaller number at a high unit price to recoup the up-front costs (development and tooling). 


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    fritz


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    I am pretty sure that the rumored mid engined Porsche, marketed somewhere between the 991 Turbo and the 918, will be somehow based on 918 development. So I guess fritz is right with his assumption...

    My guess is: The 96x or whatever the name will be, will be a slightly different looking 918 minus that complicated hybrid technology, minus some too expensive lightweight material and a more production series (991 Turbo, etc.) oriented interior design.

    Of course this is a wild guess only but it makes sense.


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    RC (Germany) - Rennteam Editor Porsche Panamera Turbo S, Cayenne GTS (958), BMW X3 35d (2012), Mini Cooper S Countryman All4


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    Apparently, Porsche chose to price the car higher which is fine by me. The technological advances in the 918 will filter down to Porsche cars I can afford or at least deem financially wise to buy.Smiley


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    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    Saw two of the 918's today at the Dubai Autodrome, but did not manage to get any pictures. Cars looked good, but was disappointed with the sounds, though only driving slowly in the paddock area. 

     


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    tso:

    Saw two of the 918's today at the Dubai Autodrome, but did not manage to get any pictures. Cars looked good, but was disappointed with the sounds, though only driving slowly in the paddock area. 

     

    Prototypes or serial editions?


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    sportcars-history.com


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    kudryavchik:
    tso:

    Saw two of the 918's today at the Dubai Autodrome, but did not manage to get any pictures. Cars looked good, but was disappointed with the sounds, though only driving slowly in the paddock area. 

    Prototypes or serial editions?


    I thought so far were only prototypes around? Smiley


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    The secret of life is to admire without desiring.


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    kudryavchik:

    Talking about development costs and comparing them to competition: P1 and F150.... Simply compare amount of prototypes and testing. Porsche has made more than 20 protos. Ferrari - only 3. Mclaren ?

    18 XP P1s are currently running. We should start seeing VPs (Validation Prototype) and PPs (Production Prototype) very soon.


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    kudryavchik:
    tso:

    Saw two of the 918's today at the Dubai Autodrome, but did not manage to get any pictures. Cars looked good, but was disappointed with the sounds, though only driving slowly in the paddock area. 

     

    Prototypes or serial editions?

    Good question. I would say prototype. They were having the numbers we have seen before on the side - 23 / 24, but otherwise just white.

     



    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    Good find and most likely a lot better pictures than I could have taken.

    Reason for not being to interested was mainly that I was unpacking the racecar, and secondly I would never have the money for a 918 Smiley


    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    More from Dubai

    Porsche-918-Spyder-Abu-Dhabi-11-1024x681.jpgPorsche-918-Spyder-Abu-Dhabi-21.jpg


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    Re: 918 latest news Thread Closed

    Dear Porsche - please just give us a GT3RS with that V8 N/A in it producing 580 bhp.  RUF's done it, let's see Porsche's version


     
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