2015 Porsche 918 Spyder

The ultra-quick and ultra-expensive Porsche 918 Spyder is a range-topping gasoline-electric hybrid super car that acts as a rolling display of Porsche's engineering know-how. Like the Carrera GT and the iconic 959 before it, the 918 is a limited-edition halo car whose technology will trickle down to all of Porsche's upcoming models over the next decade.

Visually, the 918 Spyder looks like a race car for the road. Its silhouette is characterized by a low front end, heavily sculpted flanks, numerous air vents, a unique "top pipe" exhaust system and 911-inspired tail lamps. Carbon fiber aerodynamic add-ons, a functional air diffuser integrated into the rear bumper and large center-locking wheels mounted on low-profile tires finish off the race-bred look and help give the 918 an inimitable appearance.

Driver-Focused Cockpit
Embellished with abundant carbon fiber and brushed aluminum trim, the 918 Spyder's driver-focused interior is split up into two basic areas: The controls that are essential to how the car drives and the ones that aren't.

Most of the controls that deal with how the car drives are accessible via buttons located on the three-spoke multi-function steering wheel. The driver can configure the thin-film transistor (TFT) screen on the instrument cluster, scroll through menus that provide vital information about the car, switch between the four driver modes using a race-inspired map switch and change gears with a set of shift paddles located behind the steering wheel.

Largely located on the raised center console, the non-essential functions consist of everything related to comfort, convenience and connectivity. The center console features a smartphone-like touch surface that enables the passengers to quickly browse through menus, type in an address or change the air conditioning settings. To make the system as user-friendly as possible, information is entered and displayed in two separate screens.

Touch screen-adverse passengers can navigate the system using three knobs installed on the center console.

Porsche's PCM infotainment system is controlled via an eight-inch touch screen located on the dashboard. It works with smartphones to provide internet connectivity, stream music and access the address book, while a text-to-speech function lets occupants send emails and text messages.

For further integration, a purpose-designed application called Porsche Car Connect instantly provides information such as the car's range or the state of its battery pack.

Porsche's Most Advanced Car
The 918's main source of power is a race-inspired 4.6-liter V8 engine that churns out 608 horsepower at 8,600 rpms and 390 lb-ft. of torque at 6,600 rpms. Interestingly, it does not power any auxiliary accessories such as the alternator or the air conditioning compressor, meaning that it is neatly installed in the engine bay without any belts or pulleys. The aforementioned top pipes replace the traditional exhaust pipes and help route heat away from the lithium-ion battery pack as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The V8 sends power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission mounted upside down to achieve a lower center of gravity.

A 154-horsepower hybrid module installed on the rear axle and a 127-horsepower electric motor located on the front axle are both powered by the aforementioned lithium-ion battery pack. Liquid-cooled, the pack can be fully charged in four hours when plugged into a 230-volt German-spec household outlet, or in 25 minutes using Porsche's Speed Charging Station.

Combined, the three power sources churn out 887 horsepower and over 590 lb-ft. of torque, enabling the 918 to sprint from zero to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and from zero to 124 mph in 7.9 seconds. Top speed is rated at over 211 mph. Alternatively, when driven conservatively the 918 can return up to 91 mpg in a mixed European cycle while emitting around 79 grams of CO2 per kilometer, making the super car cleaner than most economy sub-compacts.

The drivetrain operates in one of five modes that can be activated with a knob on the steering wheel. The default mode is E-Power, which gives the car an electric range of 18 miles at speeds of up to 93 mph. In Hybrid Mode, all three power sources work together to return the best possible fuel economy. Sport Hybrid runs the V8 engine continuously while regularly using the electric motors to provide boost. Race Hybrid changes the gear ratios and runs the electric motors at their maximum power for a short time. The last mode is Hot Lap, which uses all of the available battery power to delivery the drivetrain's full potential.

The 918 packs a four-wheel steering system that turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction as the front wheels at low speeds, and in the same direction at high speeds. Porsche explains the four-wheel steering equates to adding 50 horsepower or removing 220 pounds from the car when it is driven on a track.

The car is also equipped with Porsche's Active Aerodynamic system, a feature that adjusts add-ons such as the rear wing based on driving conditions. It has three modes: Sport, E-Power and Race.

Standard and Optional Equipment
The 918 comes standard with power windows with one-touch operation, a digital radio, a rain-sensing windshield wiper, electric and heated door mirrors, a reverse camera, an 11-speaker Burnmester surround sound system, LED headlights, leather upholstery on the dash, the center console and the door panels and Alcantara upholstery on the headliner.

Surprisingly, the 918 does without Porsche's signature mile-long list of options. The highlights include button-activated front axle lift system that reduces the risk of scraping the car on ramps and driveways, bespoke paint colors, a carbon fiber interior package, carbon floormats with bespoke piping and colored seat belts.

Cup holders, a HomeLink garage opener and a package that reduces glare are no-cost options.

Weissach Package
For an extra $95,000, buyers can order the Weissach Package that lowers the 918's weight to 3,615 pounds thanks to additional carbon fiber parts and special magnesium wheels. The package also adds six-point seatbelts and Alcantanra upholstery instead of leather, and it gives buyers access to special colors inspired by historic Porsche race cars and optional film-coating instead of paint.

Occupant Safety
All 918s are equipped with front, side, thorax and head airbags in addition to Porsche's Stability Management (PSM) system, which groups driving aids such as traction control and stability control. PSM can be deactivated in two stages or set to a sport mode for spirited driving.

A tire repair system with a sealing compound replaces the spare wheel.

Key Competitors
With the Ferrari LaFerrari already sold out, the 918 Spyder's main competitor in terms of price and performance is the 903-horsepower McLaren P1.

918 buyers who want to reach their destination even faster should look at a well-equipped single-engine Cessna TTx airplane.