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Mar. 11 2010 - 3:25 pm | 242 views | 1 recommendation | 1 comment

A 78 m.p.g. Porsche

Porsche has yet to decide whether it will build this 78 mpg sports car

Porsche has yet to decide whether it will build this 78 mpg sports car

Porsche owners have been called many things, but ecologically-minded is usually not near the top of the list.  That could change if the German sports car specialist decides to build the 918 Spyder, a hybrid supercar capable of delivering a whopping 78 miles per gallon.

The 918 Spyder was a surprise introduction at the recent Geneva Motor Show.  Lurking beneath the exotic body is a mid-engine 3.8-liter V-8 engine rated at 500 horsepower, and working in conjunction with two electric motors – because, let’s face it, 500 horsepower just won’t cut it.

The electric motors add an additional 218 hp, bumping output to 718 hp and, according to Porsche, providing the slinky tw0-seat coupe with a 198 mph top speed.  The sprint from o to 62 mph takes only 3.2 seconds.  Of course, when driven aggressively, owners wouldn’t see anything close to that much-hyped 78 m.p.g. average.

The 918 Spyder does a lot of things well, though not all at the same time. It has four drive modes. An all-electric “E-Power” mode has 15.5 miles of range from a lithium-ion battery pack. “Race-Hybrid” mode unleashes the 500-horsepower V-8 gas engine and 218-horsepower electric motor to help the car accelerate from zero-to-62 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds and give it a top speed of 198 miles an hour. An “E-Boost” button allows the driver to call on maximum electric power for “racing and when passing,” Porsche said.

(via The New York Times, Porsche’s Stealth Debut)

So when driven like a Porsche and not a Prius, the 918 Spyder returns a much more realistic (i.e. lower) economy average.  While the figures are a tad optimistic, at least there’s no doubt about how this Porsche hybrid stole the spotlight from another equally exotic debut in Geneva.

The Ferrari 599 Hybrid wowed the crowds with its jaw-dropping looks.  But the Italian sports car (painted green, of course) left many scratching their heads, wondering what the big deal was about a hybrid capable of averaging only 14 m.p.g.


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    About Me

    I'm an automotive journalist based in New York City and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Edmunds.com, Gaywheels.com, CarandDriver.com, Bimmer magazine and many other well-respected publications.

    I recently spent nearly 5 years in the wilds of Paris, France, where I was reporting about the European and Indian automotive world. But no matter where I am, there is always a great car story waiting to be told.

    I've poked my head under the hood of a New Delhi taxicab, worked the pits at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and driven 197-mph on the German autobahn.

    Now that I'm back in the U.S. - along with Matthew, my partner of 10 years - it's thrilling to get reacquainted with N.Y.C. and American car culture.

    I love my job no matter if I'm driving some jaw-dropping exotic car or, much more likely, hunting for a parking spot in my downtown neighborhood.

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    Contributor Since: October 2009
    Location:New York City, N.Y.