Porsche 918 Spyder

After a prolonged period of teasing and testing, Porsche have finally unveiled the production ready Porsche 918 Spyder at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show 2013. The Porsche 918 Spyder is the latest halo model from the German brand and continues along the lines of previous Porsche supercars such as the Porsche Carrera GT, however, this time, the power comes from a plug-in hybrid drive engine!

The Porsche 918 Spyder comes fitted with a mid-mounted 4.6-litre V8 engine producing 608 bhp independently – the highest specific power of any naturally aspirated Porsche engine. The V8 is then supplemented by a further two electric motors mounted on each axle. The electric motors can either drive the wheels independently or work together with the engine to boost performance. Each motor produces enough power to boost the total figure over 880 bhp. A seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) controls power delivery to the rear wheels.

The 918 Spyder has been greatly influenced by its affiliations with motorsport. A number of the developments to the Porsche race car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2014 were used in the 918 Spyder – and vice versa. It features a carbon fibre monocoque and a multi-link chassis. The chassis is aided by Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive shock-absorber system and rear-axle steering.

The Porsche 918 Spyder gets five operating modes, which can be activated via a map switch in the steering wheel, just like in race cars. The first is “E-Power” which uses the electric motors as much as possible and is engaged from startup. It can cover between 16 and 32 kilometres on purely electric power. In “Hybrid” mode, the electric motors and combustion engine work alternately, focusing on achieving maximum efficiency and minimum fuel consumption.

Porsche 918 Spyder

In “Sport Hybrid” mode. The combustion engine now operates continuously, representing the main propulsive force. The electric motors are activated to support acceleration through the electric boost function, or at points when the operating point of the combustion engine can be optimised for greater efficiency. “Race Hybrid” is the mode for maximum performance. The combustion engine is chiefly used under high load, and charges the battery whenever the driver does not require maximum power. The electric motors provide additional support in the form of boosting in this mode too. PDK also becomes sharper in this mode.

The “Hot Lap” button in the centre of the map switch releases the 918 Spyder’s final reserves and can only be activated in “Race Hybrid” mode. Similar to a qualification mode, “Race Hybrid” mode pushes the traction battery to its maximum power output limits for a few fast laps. This mode uses all of the available energy in the battery.

Porsche 918 Spyder

Customers will be able to order the “Weissach” package. These cars come in special colours and designs inspired by legendary Porsche race cars. The cars will get super lightweight magnesium wheels which reduce the unsprung weight, decreasing the weight by around 35 kg. A six-point seatbelts for the driver and front passenger, an optional film coating instead of a paint finish, plus additional aerodynamic add-on parts in visible carbon fibre are also key features of this option.

The tyres were a particular issue during development. A total of 550 prototype tyres were produced and tested over the course of the testing period. 400 preproduction prototypes and 200 series test specimens were also produced before Porsche gave the final approval for the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres in size 265/35 ZR 20 for the front axle and 325/30 ZR 21 for the rear axle. They are unique to the Porsche 918 Spyder.

Porsche 918 Spyder

The final part of the package is the Porsche Active Aerodynamic (PAA). The system works in three stages, switching automatically between optimum efficiency and maximum downforce. In “Race” mode, the retractable rear wing is set to a steep angle to generate high downforce at the rear axle. The spoiler, which is positioned between the two wing supports at the trailing edge of the airflow, also extends. Two adjustable air flaps are opened in the underbody in front of the front axle, directing some of the air into the diffuser channels of the underbody structure to also produce a “ground effect” at the front axle.

In “Sport” mode, the aerodynamics control system reduces the approach angle of the rear wing slightly, enabling a higher top speed. The spoiler remains extended but the aerodynamic flaps in the underbody close, which also reduces aerodynamic drag and increases the potential vehicle speed. In “E” mode, the system focuses solely on low aerodynamic drag; the rear wing and spoiler are retracted and the underbody flaps are closed. Adjustable air intakes under the main headlights round off the adaptive aerodynamics system. When the vehicle is stationary and in “Race” or “Sport” mode, the intakes are opened to enable maximum cooling. In “E-Power” and “Hybrid” mode, the air intakes close as soon as the vehicle is driven off in order to keep aerodynamic drag to a minimum. They are not opened again until the vehicle reaches speeds of approximately 130 km/h or when cooling requirements are higher.

Porsche 918 Spyder

The Porsche 918 Spyder gets two removable roof panels constructed from carbon fibre and a 100-litre luggage compartment. We’ll take a closer look tomorrow at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show 2013. Until then, enjoy the press photos above!

IAA Frankfurt 2013

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