Here at the Geneva Motor Show we gazed wide-eyed and bewildered at the Porsche 918 Spyder -- a plug-in hybrid created not to protect the environment, but for ludicrous amounts of power
There are a few things in life you're unlikely to ever see -- John Terry regaining captaincy of the England football team, Cheryl Cole fight-fight-fighting for this love a second time, and a Porsche hybrid car. Actually, scrap that last one, because it's just happened -- not once, but three times, with the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid, GT3 Hybrid and Cayenne Turbo Hybrid.
Today at the Geneva Motor Show, we got a chance to gaze, wide-eyed and bewildered, at the 918 Spyder. According to Porsche's design team, this concept vehicle was created not because it wanted the car to be greener, or spew fewer emissions, but because it thought throwing in a set of batteries and some electric motors would give them more power.
Two motors, mounted in front of the passenger cabin, power the front wheels. A third, mounted near the gearbox in the middle, drives the rear -- with or without the assistance of a 500bhp, 3.8-litre V8 petrol engine. A lithium-ion battery pack provides the juice for the electric motors.
Together, they give the 918 Spyder enough accelerative force to snap your neck -- 0-100kmh (62mph) takes a mere 3.2 seconds, and it'll romp all the way up to 198mph. Adding a load of heavy batteries doesn't appear to have affected the car's handling, either. Porsche reckons this 918 Spyder can complete a lap of Germany's famous Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in under 7 minutes 30 seconds -- quicker than a petrol-only Porsche Carrera GT.
Despite its ludicrous performance, the 918 Spyder's eco credentials would put those of the Toyota Prius to shame. Running in electric-only mode, it'll go for up to 16 miles without touching a drop of petrol, leeching instead off the power in the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack positioned just behind the passenger compartment. Like all pure-electric or plug-in hybrid cars, it'll run indefinitely, just as long as you have access to a household electrical outlet.
Those travelling more than 16 miles needn't panic. In hybrid mode, the 918 Spyder can employ the use of its V8 engine, sipping lightly enough at its petrol reserves to achieve an incredible 94mpg, while emitting just 70g/km of carbon dioxide. For reference, the admittedly much heavier Toyota Prius achieves just 72mpg, while emitting 89g/km of CO2 -- rubbish.
Porsche hasn't skimped on the cabin tech. Inside, the car's instruments glow green to indicate it's running in eco mode, or red for performance mode. The car's satellite-navigation system is linked to its drivetrain and can calculate whether the driver is able to reach his or her destination on electrical power alone, and how
small adjustments to your driving style can extend the range.
Right now, the 918 Spyder is still in the concept stage, but we're assured by Porsche bigwigs that the company is gauging reaction to this car before it decides whether to release it properly. Judging by the mass salivation of the hacks crowded around it earlier, we're confident this one will arrive in a Porsche showroom sooner rather than later.
Hit the 'Continue' link below to see even more pics of this marvellous beast, but not before you've watched our full tongues-on video.