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BEST of the BEST 2014 | Wheels | Convertibles: Porsche 918 Spyder

A hybrid of the highest order...

A hybrid of the highest order…

Every decade or so there comes a car that is years ahead of its time, one that provides a completely new driving experience. The list of such machines includes the Blower Bentleys, maybe the Mustang, possibly the Jaguar XK120, certainly the Bugatti Veyron, and now the astounding Porsche 918 Spyder.

The 918 Spyder is a plug-in hybrid employing technology pioneered by Toyota for the Prius and Honda for the Insight, those green, modest, but admirable slowpokes. In staggering contrast, the 918 Spyder is the fastest, most powerful Porsche road car ever made and, with a base price of $845,000, one of the most expensive Porsches ever. It travels from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 211 mph. The car’s two electric motors and one potent V-8 generate nearly 900 hp. Accompanying that power are braking, steering, suspension, and shifting systems incorporating so much super-sophisticated technology that they can elevate amateur driving skills to professional heights. The car will handle lowland curves and mountain hairpins in perfect balance and with total security, protecting drivers burdened with heavy hands and clumsy feet.

The 918 Spyder offers more than just power and motion. Exquisitely proportioned and visually exciting from all sides and corners, it will transform any garage into an art gallery. The design suggests raw adventure and ferocity to spare. Its appearance and capabilities notwithstanding, the car does not grumble and harrumph at peaceful progress. It is calm, smooth, and effortless to drive when it is dawdling or stuck in rush-hour sloth.

In full electric mode at highway speeds, the 918 Spyder is good for 12 miles of eerie, silent travel. In hybrid mode, with regenerative braking and surplus energy from the V-8 feeding the batteries that power the two electric motors, the car can cover about 67 miles on a gallon of gas. But drivers primarily seeking high performance will appreciate the electric motors as a form of power assist, not as a means of eco-friendly propulsion. When the 918 Spyder is in race mode, the motors add a combined 279 hp to the V-8’s 608 hp for a total of 887 hp and 944 ft lbs of torque.  

Porsche, www.porsche.com

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