The Explosive Mixture: Porsche 918 Spyder Extreme Test Drive, or A Million Euro Car

According to people who know the formula well, “the explosive mixture” is one volume of oxygen and two volumes of hydrogen. The mixture is highly explosive. And once ignited, an explosion occurs with the release of enormous amount of energy. As scientists assert, seeing such a phenomenon once is better than hearing about it a hundred times… preferably, at a safe distance. We, on the contrary, decided to get inside this very “Explosive Mixture”.

The Timeless Values

Having set such a goal, we went to the South of Germany, to the real Mecca of German automotive industry, Stuttgart. This city fascinates its guests with its greenery and an immense amount of all kinds of festivals held there all the year round. It also lures the culture cognoscenti all over Europe with its fantastic ballet, classic opera and ancient philharmonic. Besides, Stuttgart is a home for Wilhelma, the biggest zoo and a botanical garden in Europe. And its true highlight is a unique museum of the Federal Land Baden-Wurttemberg, which is not only one of the oldest city buildings but also tells about the history of this region since the times of the Stone Age.

Yet, we have come to Stuttgart for quite another reason. The point is that it is here, on the outskirts of the city, on Porsche Platz, where we find the Porsche plant with its nearly century’s history. It is here, with its old shops. They are the true successors of engineering ideas incarnated by Ferdinand Porsche, a man (and he well deserves it) who became a synonym of power, velocity, status and reliability. Not common to the mass-produced Panameras and Cayennes, but the real 911s, Carreras and Caymans.

And what is the most interesting is that all of them are still hand-made. The ones we can see with our own eyes when joined a tour to the shops. Here you can see not only the whole assembly process of legendary sports cars, but also behold their way to the parking of Porsche’s biggest showroom which is also located here, on Porsche Platz. You’ll be surely amazed with the delivery robots plying around with carts loaded with parts of new Carreras and 911s. But still more you will be surprised at local workers safely drinking beer in the works canteen during their meal break.

If you happen to be in Stuttgart and on Porsche Platz, it would be a penal act not to visit the Porsche museum. You will be able to trace the whole history of the engineering idea and designer school of the greatest of all German designers and inventors. It is also here that the first Porsche electromobile is exhibited which was created long time before the appearance of the proverbial “carriages” with so conventional now internal combustion engine, as well as all sorts of classical Porsche 356, 911 and Carrera. And even the very first VW Kaffer.

Besides, the museum display features a swarm of unique Porsche sports cars oftentimes constructed in a single exemplar. These are Le Mans champions, and even a Formula 1 racing car. Also the museum features an off-roader developed by the Germans to be used by the army. At closure of the display we can have a close-up view of our hero, a hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder in a sports war paint. In other words, the Porsche museum will not leave any of the visitors indifferent. And it ends traditionally in a gift shop with excellent prices.

However strange it may sound, one of the places in the museum itself mandatory for visiting is its restaurant. It can be found in the topmost floor of the museum. And it is not at all that simple to get in there. For our journalist group of eight it was ordered one month in advance. The restaurant itself is quite a plain but refined outlet that specializes at cooking meat. And sure enough, the steaks here are able to change your notion of the German cuisine to the same extent as Porsche 918 Spyder is capable of outright dispelling of the stereotypes as regards the hybrid cars.

Wonderful German wines are served here, too. Yes, you have heard right, after all, Stuttgart is situated in one of the greatest wine-producing regions in Germany. And you may as much as you like disbelieve in their origin but their quality will speak for itself. On the other hand, the same must be said about the price. By the way, an average bill in this restaurant is rarely within 200 Euro. However, having got the accounts square here, by no means go directly to the Porsche 918 Spyder test. In such a case you are at the great risk of running out of cash and losing the contents of your stomach.

Hybrid Feelings

Porsche 918 Spyder is not quite an ordinary hypercar. Starting from the history of its creation and finishing with its internals. For the first time the car appeared before the public within the framework of Geneva Motor Show back in 2010. At that moment it was a true hybrid breakthrough. Nothing less than a hurricane vigor, crazy acceleration, fantastic 1280 Nm of torque and… fuel consumption 3 liters per 100 kilometers of travel. Hardly anybody believed it then, but even during the Motor Show the company succeeded not only in collecting a lot of favorable reviews about this unusual hybrid supercar but also several dozens of reservations for it.

In the end it was decided to put up with the issue of 918 copies. This is the exact number of Porsche 918 Spyder manufactured till July of this year when its production as such was checked. Nevertheless, as a result of its short history it had managed to beat several records and get down in the sports annuls as a winner of 24 Hours of Nurnburgring. By the way, the speed record in “Nordschleife” (6:57 minutes) set up by 918 in September 2013 has not been beaten up to now.

But Porsche 918 Spyder was created not only for winning sports records. Its mission was, first of all, to demonstrate technological capabilities of the Stuttgart make and the desire of the German sports cars producer to get into its model line-up a truly exclusive supercar for aficionados of speed and drive with a big thick wallet. As a result, this road-hugging car with its aggressive silhouette has taken up its residence in the garages of the most audacious and wealthy petrol-heads of the globe. Moreover, for some of them it has become their favorite every-day car.

Indeed, as a matter of fact, it has turned out to be a fairly comfortable car with quite reasonable, if not to say modest, maintenance expenses. Of course, if you do not take into account the initial price. For its modern air suspension is capable of digesting with acceptable comfort even road surfaces not of the highest quality, and the interior trim does not look austere, as it does in case of many rivals. Quite the opposite, it is considered a paragon of ergonomics and an example of contemporary high-tech design. It will just suffice to mention a huge touch screen display on the central panel of 918.

As for the running characteristics of Porsche 918 Spyder, in this aspect, on the one hand, its dynamic behavior can drive you crazy, but on the other hand – 887 horse powers and 2.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h are not such unique figures. But there is a rub. Porsche 918 Spyder has “only” 606 purely petrol-operated “horses”. And they are produced by a powerful Stuttgart 4.6-liter V8 with torque in 530 Nm. Later on, a herd of 279 exclusively “electrical horses” comes in. But no, it is this herd that is the first to be engaged.

Yes, Porsche 918 Spyder takes off using electric motive power only. More than this, it can go for about 30 kilometers using exclusively it. Although, the speed would not exceed 150 km/h. Naturally, it is hard if not impossible to stick to this speed rate in such a car. That is why it is quite reasonable that we, having gone beyond the boundaries of a small picturesque town Jagsthausen populated by 1,500 people and the location of a nifty-looking 4-star castle hotel Gotzenburg, decided to rev it up.

Earlier, within the town boundaries, we were pleasantly surprised at impressive acceleration dynamics and pull down of two electromotors of a light carbonic Porsche 918 Spyder. In terms of output it is quite comparable to the one, for instance, in legendary Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru WRXSTI. The only difference is that fuel consumption in this case is 0.0 liter in Porsche 918 Spyder. But what happened after we exceeded this fateful level of 150 km/h, it is beyond words. You must feel it with your whole body, all its organs and receptors. And feel it at purely physiological level.

First, a clap of thunder! Or, rather, a roar of seething volcano, right behind our backs. It was the sound of awakening of petrol V8. In less than a second a herd of 279 “electrical coursers” was supplemented by six hundreds of “petrol horses”, and after that a picture outside the window reeled, and it ceased to resemble reality, and we could distinctly feel the presence of top-grade German petrol in blood.

Alternative Reality

A good many times we have had an occasion to go by cars which were able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in under three seconds. But here the acceleration process took place after 150 km/h already, and this process was unbelievably unreal. Porsche 918 Spyder went on accelerating with vehemence and aggression which simply physically did not allow focusing the eye on the well-groomed fields and holts spreading around. This process seemed never-ending. But a narrow winding road and unsuspecting local farmers leaping out from behind the turn when you least expect in their old BMWs and Audis still managed to bring us back to reality.

However, it does not at all annul the fact that Porsche 918 Spyder is able to pick up the speed of 345 km/h, accelerating from 0 to the first 200 of them in 7.2 seconds already. And in another 13 seconds it careers with an incredible speed of 300 km/h. All this particularly impresses at the background of a filigree drivability of 918 Spyder and its fast holding on to the road with its enormous “rollers” of different sizes. In some turns, or “curves”, as they are also called by the locals, it seems to you that Porsche engineers have succeeded in conquering the laws of physics. It is simply impossible to explain differently how 918 Spyder is able to screw into the turns in a narrow forest road at such a speed.

But of special attention brakes are worthy here. Arresting such speed in a matter of seconds in Porsche 918 Spyder is achieved not only with Brembo ceramic brakes with huge disks (they go into the game only in second turn, just like the petrol engine). At first the slowing is managed by the energy recovery system which not simply spectacularly decelerates the sports car burning the wind but also replenishes the resources of its battery with electrical energy. And only in case this is not enough for some reason, classical disk brakes kick in. But they offer no compromises now, as if in the long run listening to the common sense which has been enjoining prudence on you, for a long time and beyond hope.

Question worth million

Far from everyone will regard the starting price of a brand new Porsche 918 Spyder as reasonable. And perhaps he will be in the right, for it amounts to Euro 845,000. But it is like this only until the first test of this automotive electro-petrol “explosive mixture”. At the moment of this hybrid monster darting off from the spot like a hurricane, a very clear and distinct realization takes place that this very vehicle personifies the genuine spirit of Porsche. And that all preceding Panamera’s and Cayenne’s are just cheap toys, and nothing more. After that ordering of supplementary options begins customary and traditional for all Porsche buyers which will most probably bring up the price of 918 Spyder to the sky-high level of Euro 1,000,000.

Is it much or not? Certainly it is. Is Porsche 918 Spyder worth this money? Most definitely, yes, if for no other reason than because this is not only a price for a super-high-tech and super powerful hypercar. This is a price for a boisterous drive, for concentrated adrenalin and for unparalleled emotions it is capable of giving. And as you are aware, this is always priceless. And who else would know this but the people having everything in this life, including the capability of buying Porsche 918 Spyder.

Text: Maxim Kravtsov

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