The first post-GFC supercar has broken cover in the form of the $1 million-plus Porsche 918 Spyder that’s tipped to go on sale as the flagship of the sports car maker’s range.

The Porsche 918 Spyder is powered by a hybrid drivetrain that delivers almost as much power as a modern Formula One car, accelerating the two-seat drop-top to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of 320km/h.

Despite its explosive performance the Porsche 918 Spyder is claimed to use an average of 3.0 litres of fuel per 100km, or 23 per cent less than the Toyota Prius.

Porsche says the 918 Spyder is a car with “extremely low fuel consumption, supreme performance and long electric range” representing “an essential milestone in Porsche’s strategy on the way to genuine electro-mobility”.

“Electric cars will be important in the future for sports cars,” says Porsche boss Michael Macht.

The recently installed head of Germany’s famous sports car maker says the 918 Spyder has typical Porsche genes and that there’s a strong chance the company will put it into production.
“Porsche has never shown a concept car that wasn’t built. Let’s wait and see what the reaction in Geneva [at motor show] is.”

The 918 Spyder borrows its 3.4-litre V8 engine from the Porsche RS Spyder Le Mans race car. On its own the engine makes about 375kW. However, in the Porsche 918 Spyder concept the V8 is teamed with three electric motors, which can boost power a further 160kW, taking overall output to about 540kW.

Electrical energy can be generated either by the Lithium-ion battery – which can also be recharged in a regular powerpoint – or a giant flywheel that can convert the kinetic energy that would normally be lost in heat through the brakes.

The 918 Spyder has four different modes, including one that allows the car to be driven for up to 25km as a pure electric vehicle. There are three other modes – Hybrid, Sport Hybrid and Race Hybrid – which use the V8 engine and electric motors for varying levels of performance and power.

A button on the steering wheel allows the driver to choose between the four modes. Porsche says the 918 Spyder is the fastest road car it has built to lap the infamous Nurburgring race track, with a claimed time less than 7 minutes 30 seconds.

The Porsche 918 Spyder also has retractable air intakes designed to improve aerodynamics and shove air into the engine under pressure for increased power, as well as an adjustable rear wing. The Porsche 918 Spyder is the latest supercar concept to showcase hybrid technology as a way to boost performance and use less fuel.

BMW last year showed its three-cylinder Vision Efficient Dynamics concept car, a vehicle the company said could accelerate to 100km /h in 4.8 seconds and use just 3.8L/100km.

Ferrari will also show its 599 Hybrid car, a version of which is expected to go into production about 2014. However, while Ferrari has confirmed it is developing a million-dollar-plus supercar to effectively replace the Enzo, it is at least two years away with scant details available.

The Porsche 918 Spyder is seen as a successor to the Porsche Carrera GT that was only ever sold as a left-hand-drive model. Porsche has not confirmed whether the 918 Spyder will be built in right-hand drive to make it suitable for markets such as Australia.

Porsche is working on a range of petrol-electric hybrid cars as well as an electric sports car in an effort to reduce fuel use and meet demand for more efficient vehicles.

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