Porsche hybrid an eco rocket
With a top speed of more than 320kmh and the ability to secure a less than three litres per 100km fuel economy rating, Porsche's multi-million dollar 918 Spyder is a vehicle of precocious talent.
The 918, an experimental open-topped mid-engined supercar, does not hang around on its way to that top speed either, with a zero to "sorry, officer" time of under three seconds, which means it is quicker than Ferrari's new 458 and the Chevrolet Z07 Corvette.
It all comes from a drive system that combines a fairly conventional mid-engined, 4.6-litre, rear-drive V8 with two electric motors, one for the front wheels and the second in the driveline to assist the rear wheels. It all works via a hybrid system boosted by the car's petrol power unit, as well as by energy drawn from the Porsche's brakes when they haul the supercar down from high speed.
The V8 engine puts out about 570 horsepower and the electric motors conspire to help produce a total of 770kW, which is why the car can be so fast and yet so frugal on petrol.
The emissions rating for the car is 70g/km from an EU combined fuel economy score of 3.0L/100 km. The car can run on electricity alone for 25 km, so you could blast to your heart's content on the track at weekends and if you live close enough to work, never use a drop of fuel during your day-to-day commute.
The Porsche 918 Spyder is due to go into production in the third quarter of next year, and when it arrives in showrooms, punters can expect the beast to sell for in excess of NZ$3 million.
Wolfgang Hatz, on the executive board of research and development for Porsche, says it is not just the car's drivetrain that is advanced.
The 918 Spyder breaks new ground with its carbon-fibre reinforced plastic monocoque, fully adaptive aerodynamics, adaptive rear-axle steering and upward-venting top pipe exhaust system.