Heard about the Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid?
Well, if you’re out looking at the Nissan Leaf and decide you would like spend, oh, 25 times more to cut your fossil-fuel consumption, then maybe swing by your Porsche dealer.
The funny thing is, this isn’t even the hybrid supercar with which Porsche is making real automotive-development news. That would be the 918 RSR, just announced at the Detroit Auto Show. That one’s a reinforced-carbon-fiber, gas-and-electric beast – 767 horsepower combined – bred for high-endurance competition at places like LeMans. Forget the price. Buckling into a racing harness is such a drag, anyway.
The street-legal Porsche 918 Spyder, to get back to your shopping needs, was a concept car last year at the Geneva Auto Show, and it’s now scheduled for production. It’s a plug-in. A full charge reportedly takes just a few hours.
It’s also powerful: about 500 horsepower from its V8, a couple hundred more from the electric assist. And it’s fast: zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds, with a top end speed of close to 200 miles per hour. It gets 78 miles per gallon – but only if driven gingerly (yeah, right!)
Of course it’s lovely. It’s from the stable of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche.
That’s a marquee with a lot to live up to. But the question may be: Why another limited-edition hybrid – they’re building 918 of them – priced in the stratosphere? Isn’t that like a Paris fashion house producing a “sustainable” sheath dress that would only ever make an appearance on Hollywood’s red carpet?
Porsche is already in the hybrid business. It sells a gas-electric version of its Cayenne SUV, and plans a hybrid version of its Panamera, the four-door hatchback that arguably looks like a 911 that’s eaten way too much wurst.
Remember when getting into a Porsche was as easy as picking up an entry-level 914 – that quirky targa-topped roadster developed in the late 1960s? (So what if your buddies called it a glorified Volkswagen?)
Brand management is fine. But there’s no down-market variant of any Porsche in sight, and maybe hybrid would be the place to make that play.
In fact, with the 918 Spyder hybrid, Porsche has seen a need to offer high-fliers a sweetener: a less-costly gasoline-only 918 Spyder will also soon be produced – and the only buyers eligible will be those who have signed up to purchase the hybrid.
The gas-powered cousin will be called the 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder, and run $160,000 for a hardtop, an additional $12,000 for the ragtop. Little something for when you want to stomp on the gas and actually burn some.