Porsche is keeping up the pace in the enhancement of efficiency combined with driving pleasure, by shifting to the next gear at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show with no less than three world debuts in hybrid technology.

The absolute highlight is the presentation of a concept of a high-performance mid-engined sports car with plug-in hybrid technology, the 918 Spyder, which debuts alongside the Cayenne S Hybrid, the first production hybrid in the history of Porsche AG, and the 911 GT3 R Hybrid which is the first racing car from the Stuttgart marque with electric front axle drive and a flywheel energy reservoir.

Highly Efficient and Ultra-Fast: Porsche 918 Spyder Mid-Engined Sports Car with Plug-In Hybrid

Presenting a high-performance mid-engined concept sports car with ultra-efficient, low-emission drive technology, Porsche is further increasing the Company’s competence in hybrid technology.

The 918 Spyder prototype combines high-tech racing features and electro-mobility with the performance of a thoroughbred super sports car to offer a fascinating range of qualities. These include, first and foremost, an emissions level of just 70 grams/km CO2 combined with fuel consumption of three litres/100 kilometres (equal to 94 mpg on the New European Driving Cycle); a feat outstanding even for an ultra-compact city car, yet truly remarkable when combined with the performance of a supercar. Acceleration from 0-62mph (100 km/h) is achievable in just under 3.2 seconds, a top speed of more than 198mph (320 km/h), and a lap time around the Nürburgring Nordschleife of less than 7:30 minutes – faster than the Porsche Carrera GT.

The 918 Spyder is one of three Porsche models with hybrid drive making their world debut at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. This trio – made up of the new Cayenne S Hybrid SUV with parallel full-hybrid drive, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid racing car with electric drive on the front axle and a flywheel mass battery, and the two-seater high-performance 918 Spyder mid-engined sports car with plug-in hybrid technology – clearly demonstrates not only the great bandwidth of this new drive technology, but also the innovative power of Porsche as a genuine pioneer in hybrid drive.

Under the Skin

The highly innovative 918 Spyder concept car combines Porsche Intelligent Performance technology, know-how from motorsport, and classic but modern design to make a truly convincing statement.

The open two-seater is powered by a high-speed V8 developing more than 500 bhp and running at maximum speed engine of 9,200 rpm as well as electric motors on the front and rear axle with overall mechanical output of 218 bhp (160 kW). The V8 combustion engine is a further development of the highly successful 3.4-litre power unit already featured in the RS Spyder racing car and positioned amidships in front of the rear axle, giving the car the optimum set-up for supreme performance on the race track through its inherent good chassis balance.

Power is transmitted to the wheels by a seven-speed PDK (Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe) double clutch transmission, which also feeds the power of the electric drive system to the rear axle. The front-wheel electric drive powers the wheels through a fixed transmission ratio.

The energy reservoir is a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery positioned behind the passenger cell. The big advantage of a plug-in hybrid is that the battery can be charged on the regular electrical network. A further point is that the car’s kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy and fed into the battery when applying the brakes, thus providing additional energy for fast and dynamic acceleration.

A button on the steering wheel allows the driver to choose among four different running modes. The E-Drive mode is for running the car under electric power alone, with a range of up to 16 miles (25 km). In the Hybrid mode, the 918 Spyder uses both the electric motors and the combustion engine as a function of driving conditions and requirements, offering a range from particularly fuel-efficient all the way to extra-powerful.

The Sport Hybrid mode uses both drive systems, but with the focus on performance. Most of the drive power goes to the rear wheels, with Torque Vectoring serving to additionally improve the car’s driving dynamics.

In the Race Hybrid mode, the drive systems are focused on pure performance with the highest standard of driving dynamics on the track, running at the limit to their power and dynamic output. With the battery sufficiently charged, a push-to-pass button feeds in additional electrical power (E-Boost), when overtaking, for example, or for even better performance.

With the hybrid drive system offering this wide range of individual modes and applications, the 918 Spyder is able either to achieve lap times comparable to those of a thoroughbred racing car – such as less than 7:30 minutes on the Nürburgring Nordschleife – or, focusing on a more economical style of motoring, with a reduction in emissions to just 70 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

Lightweight Body

Like the drivetrain, the lightweight body structure of the 918 Spyder also bears out the car’s DNA carried over directly from motorsport: The modular structure with its monocoque bodyshell made of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFP) and the appropriate use of magnesium and aluminium not only reduce weight to less than 1,490kg, but also ensure supreme driving precision thanks to the very high level of torsional stiffness.

Reminiscent of highly successful legendary racing cars such as the Porsche 917 and the current Porsche RS Spyder, the 918 Spyder with its design concept so typical of Porsche arouses powerful emotions. The combination of racing car dimensions, clearly structured design with perfectly balanced surfaces, and innovative details all round creates an overall pattern of aesthetic, perfectly balanced harmony in design full of power and dynamics. This indeed is the ideal synthesis of form and function following the proven Porsche design DNA.

The smooth balance of tradition and progress gives the 918 Spyder a powerful stance on the road with its combination of dimensions. Variable aerodynamics typical of Porsche ensure both visionary and traditional highlights, particularly around the rear spoiler. The striking rear hoods extending out of the headrests, in turn, not only fulfil an aerodynamic function on the 918 Spyder, but also accommodate retractable air intakes with a ram air function.

Behind The Wheel

The driver and passenger are not only perfectly embedded in contoured sports bucket seats, but also form part of the cockpit with its synthesis of efficient function and ergonomic high-tech operation offering an outlook at the interior architecture we may possibly see in super sports cars of the future.

The three free-standing circular dials for road speed (left), engine rpm (middle) and energy management (right) would appear to come directly from a racing car in the ‘60s, bearing out that unique philosophy of driver focus so characteristic of Porsche.

The centre console rising up towards the front in the 918 Spyder houses a touch-sensitive surface for intuitive control of the car’s functions, serving consistently to reduce the number of visible controls and maintain the principle of direct operation. The control units relevant to the driver are concentrated in particular on the three-spoke multifunction sports steering wheel, while the variable driving modes, again so typical of Porsche, are supplemented by a map switch enabling the driver to call up various drive programs and serving as the push-to-pass button for E-boosting, for example when overtaking.

Instrument illumination, finally, varies from green for the consumption-oriented running modes to red for the performance-oriented driving programmes.

The 918 Spyder also comes with further innovative functions such as the Range Manager. After being activated in the Centre Display, the Range Manager uses the map in the navigation system to present the remaining range the car is able to cover, naturally allowing the driver to influence that range through the appropriate choice of power and performance. In cities with environmental alert areas, the Range Manager also states whether the driver is able to reach a certain destination on electric power alone.

Applying this information and using further info on the availability and location of special energy filling stations, the driver is then able to choose his personal style of driving as well as the right battery charge and filling strategy.

Offering a unique combination of extremely low fuel consumption, supreme performance and long electric range, the Porsche 918 Spyder represents an essential milestone in the Porsche strategy on the way to genuine electro-mobility.

Porsche Intelligent Performance: an overview

The 918 Spyder is absolutely unique in the super sports car segment, consuming just three litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (94.0 mpg) in the New European Driving Cycle. This also applies to its ultra-low CO2 emission rating of just 70 g/km. The new Cayenne S Hybrid, in turn, consuming just 8.2 litres on 100 kilometres, equal to 34.4 mpg imp, comes right at the top of its segment, offering the performance of a large eight-cylinder SUV on unparalleled fuel economy.

Together with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid for motorsport, these hybrid models set the new benchmark in the traditional Porsche strategy to offer even more sporting driving pleasure on even less fuel. Such an ongoing increase in efficiency is the quintessence of 60 years of sports car construction now described most appropriately by the term Porsche Intelligent Performance.

The performance of a Porsche is based on intelligent and innovative ideas for even more effective engines and lighter bodies, for more power and dynamics on lower fuel consumption and emissions. After all, a sports car that wastes resources does not make sense – at least not with Porsche. This has been the recipe for success at Porsche right from the beginning, with the very first sports car bearing the name Porsche winning races and beating the competition. And to this day, this tradition has characterised every new model in the range.

This is precisely why Porsche concentrates on technologies which enhance performance on the one hand and improve efficiency – which also means everyday driving qualities – on the other. Examples are Direct Fuel Injection, the Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) double-clutch gearbox, VarioCam Plus intake and exhaust timing, the turbocharger with variable turbine geometry for petrol engines, and Auto Start Stop in conjunction with PDK in the new Porsche Panamera.