2015 Car of the Year Winner: Porsche 918 Spyder
By a precious nose
In a near photo finish, the 918 Spyder edged out the second-, third-, and fourth-place cars, each of which had vociferous proponents among our 139 guest judges. This is the rarest, fastest, quickest, and priciest production Porsche ever, and the most groundbreaking. The hybrid supercar develops nearly 900 hp from a 4.6-liter V-8 gasoline engine and two electric motors. They catapult the machine—initially in silence, until the V-8 kicks in—to speeds wholly inappropriate for public roads. But extreme performance is not the car’s only attribute. In fact, the 918 Spyder is docile at dawdling speeds, and it is as comfortable as any sports car. This is not to suggest that it could serve as a daily driver. It has little space for luggage, it rides very low to the ground, and the nick of a front spoiler is sure to cause the car’s owner to wince, if only because such an exquisite hand-built creation has been sullied.
Pick your plaudits
Fantastic. Incredible. Stunning. Our jurors sifted through accolades, seeking the one that best describes the 918 Spyder, which joins Ferrari’s LaFerrari and the McLaren P1 in the hybrid-supercar vanguard. Driving the 918 Spyder is an easier-than-expected matter of harnessing the 887 hp generated by two electric motors and one V-8 engine. The car’s acceleration is like an explosion, and the top speed is 214 mph. Its performance is eye-watering, soul-shattering, mind-bending, and, as some judges concluded, totally awesome.
Formula for success
The 918 Spyder may be a plug-in hybrid that enables drivers to travel an average of 12 miles on electric power alone, but it has much more in common with a Formula 1 racecar than a practical daily driver. It is priced from $845,000, it reaches a top speed of 214 mph, and it accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. In the all-electric mode, the 918 Spyder silently traverses the road, but when the 4.6-liter V-8 growls to life, it takes this rocket from demure to disruptive. Triple-digit speeds are achieved in as much time as it takes drivers to acclimate to the g-forces pinning their skulls to the headrest. Potent as the engine and motors are, the car still enabled our judges to corral the power and enjoy navigating the serpentine roads in Napa Valley.
CONFIGURATION: Mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, plug-in hybrid sports car
ENGINE: 4.6-liter V-8; twin electric
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed PDK dual-clutch
POWER: 887 hp at 8,500 rpm
TORQUE: 944 ft lbs in 7th gear (398 ft lbs at 6,700 rpm)
CURB WEIGHT: 3,692 pounds
ZERO-TO-60 MPH: 2.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 214 mph
BASE PRICE: $845,000