For those who believe a hybrid can’t be powerful, stylish or frighteningly fast, Porsche would like a word with you. Volkswagen’s definitive luxury brand is showcasing its new 918 Spyder hybrid that easily breaks the 200 mph mark on the track and leaves other Porsche models in the dust, all while carrying a lithium battery that makes short trips come off gas-free.
The million-dollar price tag doesn’t seem to be discouraging anyone from pursuing this car. Porsche reps (9 in all) recently showed off the show-stopping Spyder to 18 writers (a 9:18 ratio) in Leipzig, who got to drive the world’s most anticipated hybrid. It plans to start producing on September 18 (9/18) of this year, yet Motor Trend is already wondering whether the car is the greatest Porsche ever made.
How can the 918 Spyder qualify for such a distinction? Among its highlights, the so-called supercar goes 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds; tops the 211 mph mark on the track; and beats the Porsche Carrera in races by a margin of 20 seconds. While these specs could contribute to the high esteem for the 918, the fact the car can travel up to 18 miles without gasoline makes it a home run. In fact, Porsche is considering the car to be the model for all future Porsches.
Frank Markus of Motor Trend was unabashed in his praise for the 918 Spyder, which is said to crank with 887 horsepower and is so fast that engineers had to go to great lengths to make sure it stayed on the ground. A retractable wing helps pull off the feat, a fascinating detail for a car some thought could be weighed down by the battery.
On the topic of the car’s electric-only performance, Markus was equally impressed. He described the estimated seven seconds to go from 0 to 60 on electric power “conservative” while remarking the Spyder could fly at speeds over 90 mph without a drop of gas. Of course, the attraction is combining the horsepower of both electric and the traditional engine sources. In these moments, car enthusiasts consider the entire project a success, and the $1 million price tag something approaching reasonable. Do Detroit automakers have an answer for the 918 Spyder?
While the short answer is “absolutely not,” some Ford (NYSE:F) enthusiasts are finding their way to the aftermarket tuning shops where you can add torque and horsepower to models like the Ford Focus ST hatch. For pure speed, Ford lovers looking to break the 200 mph-barrier along with the 918 Spyder would gravitate toward the Mustang Shelby GT 500, the car with 662 horsepower that has impressed engineers on the race track and off.
Meanwhile, GM’s (NYSE:GM) top performance car is the 2014 Corvette Stingray. This model, which will act as the pace car at the Indy 500, packs a 6.2-liter V-8 engine capable of generating up to 450 horsepower. While neither Detroit automaker has a hybrid option that can compare to the 918 Spyder, both deliver their top performance cars for $70,000 or less. It’s a long way down from the Porsche supercar specs, but it’s also a far cry from the one-million-dollar-price tag.
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