One of the members of the hybrid performance revolutionizing hypercar holy trinity of the last decade, the Porsche 918 Spyder stands out not only as one of the brand’s most incredible vehicles but one of the most awesome cars of the 2010s. Released in 2013, the 918 Spyder was one of the first three hybrid hypercars and the 3rd road-going supercar in Porsche’s history, picking up where the insane Carrera GT left off when discontinued in 2007. Similar to that spectacular and wild Carrera GT, the 918 Spyder is no mere pure-street performance machine but rather a race-bred beast with lineage and a powerplant derived from genuine Le Mans racecars.
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Also advancing from the hardcore all-analog Carrera GT, the 918 Spyder had a focus on incredibly advanced tech as well, with exhilarating hybrid power being among them. Helping to prove the true potential of a performance-oriented hybrid, the 918 Spyder hit the scene with insane figures, including setting the first production car sub-7 minute lap time on the Nürburgring. Also able to act like a civilized everyday road car, the 918 Spyder is already a classic of the 2010s, still looking beautiful with styling that could be mistaken for a brand new car a whole eight years after its debut and still being a genuine performance threat in spite of further advancements to the paradigm it helped set.
Developed from the start with clear goals in mind, the 918 Spyder was envisioned from the start as a performance plug-in hybrid, as well as the car that would set the groundwork for future Porsche supercars.
Debuting for 2005 in the American Le Mans series, Porsche returned to the LMP class of endurance racing with the RS Spyder after a 6-year hiatus, scoring several class wins across the American and European Le Mans series with this lightweight beast. Powered by a flat-plane crank 3.4 L MR6 V8 explicitly designed for racing, the RS Spyder was phased out of competition in 2011 but would see its purpose-built engine design live on in the 918 Spyder.
Using that engine as a basis, the 918 brought the MR6 V8 up to 4.6 L in displacement alongside other tweaks and sent its power to the rear wheels. As a hybrid, though, the 918 Spyder helped flip the boring economy-focused image on its head by using a unique dual-motor system based on their design for the 997 GT3 R Hybrid racecar. Also built on a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, the 918 packed an awesome amount of race-tech and saw several thousand potential buyers express interest in its concept debut, then three years later, in 2013, the 918 Spyder was released as a production car.
Stunning Design, Wicked Performance
Debuting a month prior to the McLaren P1 and a couple after the LaFerrari, the 918 Spyder’s exterior design, like its rivals, stunned the automotive world with an ultra-sleek and futuristic body made of carbon fiber, setting the tone for current supercars we see today. With its sleek and simple front end that’s unmistakably a Porsche, the 918’s body is incredible, continuing along with gorgeous aero-tuned elements like the side scoops and peaking in the back with its top-exit exhaust pipes and active-aero spoiler.
Mounted in the middle and visible from the top (with a non-opening hood), the RS Spyder derived V8 alone makes as much power as the V10 powered 603 hp Carrera GT did, delivering 608 hp at an insane 8,400 rpm.
But that’s only part of the story, as the plug-in dual-motor electric system uses one motor up front and one in back connecting to the ICE powertrain via flywheels, adding another 279 hp for a combined output of 887 hp and 944 lb-ft of torque. Interestingly enough, that electric drivetrain shuts off at speeds above 165 mph. Managing the power with a 7-speed dual-clutch auto PDK transmission, the 918 Spyder is lightning fast, with a 0-60 mph time of 2.6 seconds claimed by Porsche, but in reality, was capable of doing it in 2.4 as proven in a MotorTrend test, and continued on to a 214 mph top speed.
Having an AWD layout thanks to the electric motor upfront with its separate gearbox, the 918 Spyder offsets its monstrous speed with even greater handling, using torque vectoring to give optimal grip across all four wheels, and also has rear-wheel steering to take things even further. Properly handling thanks in part to these tech tricks, the double-wishbone suspension also owes its lineage to the RS Spyder, using a similar design with adaptive dampers that gives it great agility. With a flat underbelly and much active aero, the 918 stays planted too with super-wide Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires.
All this was enough to let the 918 Spyder shatter the Nurburgring record in 2013 with a 6:57 time, setting the first lap time under 7 minutes for a production car. Overall, the 918 Spyder’s handling was summed up as an “887 hp Miata” by Car and Driver, a statement that shows just how incredible it really was.
All Around Advanced
Beautifully simple and wonderfully functional in its design, with plenty of exposed carbon fiber, the interior of the 918 Spyder packs as much advanced performance oriented tech and design inside as it does from the outside. Lacking in insulation, the interior can be harsh, with stiff and tight bucket seats too, but the noise and rougher feel makes for a seriously raw experience in the best way possible. With a suede wrapped steering wheel giving great driver connection, a drive mode selector on the wheel can also change between modes like Electric, Hybrid, Sport, and Race, switching up the drivetrain and suspension characteristics. Capable of driving entirely on its electric plug-in system, the 918 Spyder can get a 12 mile range in EV mode, which is not anything great, but enough to be somewhat usable – especially in a performance focused hypercar.
Further features include a manually removable roof, as it is a “Spyder” after all, as well as the large touchscreen running across the center console, with navigation and phone features included. Practicality is about what you’d expect from a hypercar, with a front trunk that has 4.7 cu-ft of space, or about same as a 2013 Porsche 911 – otherwise there’s no real cargo or storage room to speak of. Fuel economy is where the 918’s practicality shines though, as in Hybrid mode it can get a whopping 67 MPGe, while pure ICE driving yields 20 mpg city / 24 mpg highway – incredible numbers considering the performance.
As mentioned, the 918 Spyder took the Nurburgring production car lap record in 2013, but as fast as the standard 918 is, it was an even more performance oriented variant that achieved such a feat. Offered for another $84,000 on top of the base price, the Weissach package is the most notorious form of the 918, with just a quarter of them being optioned with it. Involving changes like removing the interior’s leather in favor of Alcantara, replacing aluminum bits with carbon fiber, replacing the already lightweight standard center lock wheels with even lighter RS Spyder magnesium ones, extending the rear diffuser, and replacing the windshield frame, roof, rear spoiler, and mirrors with carbon fiber ones , the Weissach pack is all about weight savings, and shaves off 99 lbs from the 918 Spyder’s 3,602 lb curb weight.
As well, with the Weissach pack several vintage racing inspired liveries were also offered, including Martini and Gulf themed ones that look absolutely awesome. Another variant called the 918 RSR concept was also developed to be a pure racecar, but that was in 2011, 2 years before the 918’s debut, and was not developed further beyond the concept.
Pricing Then To Now
Debuting in 2013, the 918 Spyder carried a massive, but understandable due to the tech base price of $845,000, around the equivalent of $960,000 in 2021 money. The Weissach package added $84,000 to that price tag as well, along with other options offered. As well, only 918 units were made, making it a rare and ultra desirable beast.
Prices for any 918 Spyder, Weissach equipped or not, start at around $1.2 million today, with some of the more interesting specs of it reaching $1.75 million and up.
Sport Cars – Porsche 918 Spyder: Costs, Facts, and Figures
Tags: Sport Cars