If you think the Tesla Model S
is the only heart-stopping high-performance plug-in car, think again, because Porsche is preparing to introduce its 918 Spyder, which jacks everything up to the max. It’s a plug-in hybrid that also claims it can achieve 78 mpg, though obviously not when the big 608-horsepower V-8 is in full cry.
Porsche will make just 918 of these (get it?) and half the production run is already claimed. The car is destined to become as legendary and sought-after as the company’s late '80s 959 (which routinely collects more than $600,000 at auction).
Add in the electric motor and the 918 has a total of 887 horsepower on tap, a steroid boost from the 718 they were talking about three years ago, when the decision to actually produce this beast was made. The price took a leap, too, from the $640,000 they were talking about then to more than $1million now if you opt for the Weissach package (gilding the lily, it adds carbon fiber to reduce weight by 77 pounds and marginally improves performance).
With everything humming, 211 mph is possible. Zero to 125 mph in the Porsche 918 Spyder takes less than eight seconds. The car has 15 to 20 miles of all-electric range, and in that mode it makes 268 horsepower, and zero to 60 in about eight seconds. Charge time for the 6.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is about two hours at 240 volts.
The British "Top Gear" show
got to drive a 918 in Germany (a pleasure denied to me so far), and it’s interesting what they said about driving in battery mode:
As with all electric cars, the poke mostly makes itself felt in low-speed acceleration. Beyond about 60 mph, it's tailing off. Even in e-mode, if you floor the throttle the car assumes you want more, so the V8 instantly starts and chimes in. E-mode is hardly sporty. It’s possible in future it’ll get you into city centers where combustion cars are banned. But basically e-mode is a sideshow, a hack to get headline-grabbing CO2 numbers, and a by-product of having the electric motors on board to improve the car’s dynamics when the V8 is running.
But "Top Gear" doesn’t like electric cars all that much. They memorably trashed the Tesla Roadster, and Elon Musk took the show to court over it. "Top Gear" survived the process to take on the Porsche 918. And so the electric car revolution marches on! Here's a 918 drive on video: