I was fortunate enough to make it out to my first Monterey Car Week last week… well sort of. I was only there one day. In my short time there, I still saw my fair share of some truly wonderful cars, both in the hilariously expensive traffic jams and parked on some fancy golf course. The one event I had time for was Porsche Club of America’s Werks Reunion, a gathering of all things Porsche at the beautiful Rancho Cañada Golf Club in Carmel, CA. Roughly 500 privately owned Porsches were in attendance and greatly represented the brand’s most iconic cars (more on those later in the week, I hope). If there’s one car that stood out to me that day, it would have to be this one: the Porsche 918 Spyder. Porsche’s newest and most revolutionary super car, the 918 Spyder is brutally fast yet impressively efficient, track-focused yet civilized, and above all, breathtaking to look at. Click past the jump and I’ll tell you all about it, once I clean the drool off of my camera. The Porsche 918 Spyder is an ambitious car, even by their standards. Its goal in life is to deliver massive power but sip fuel like a Prius, which even in 2014 sounds like a bit of a stretch. But when a company has the kind of brainpower Porsche does with decades of racing knowledge to back them up, it’s not such a stretch after all. The result is a piece of modern art which is brilliantly functional. What Porsche came up with was a power combo consisting of a motorsport-derived gas engine and arctic-friendly electric motor, which technically makes this a hybrid with a plug that can hook up to a home power outlet. But it’s not like Jeff’s hybrid. Not in the slightest. That gas engine is derived off of the one that was used in Porsche’s RS Spyder Le Mans prototype racer, so not only does the 4.6-liter V8 produce race car-like power – 608 horsepower to be precise – but it also screams like one with red line at 9,150 RPM. That 608 horsepower goes to the rear wheels through a seven-speed PDK transmission which is mounted upside down for a lower center of gravity. In addition to the V8, a 115 kW electric motor sits at the back and a smaller 95 kW electric motor sits up front. Power output from all three motors totals a monstrous 887 horsepower and 787 lb.-ft. of torque in a car that’s essentially all-wheel-drive. Throw it in “Hot Lap” mode and you can summon it all at once, enabling a 0-62 time of under 2.5 seconds and 0-124 in seven seconds flat. 186 mph is achieved in only 23 seconds and the top speed is at least 214 mph. I’m not sure about you, but I think “Jennifer Clarkson” has a nice ring to it. The first thing a casual spectator will notice about the Porsche 918 Spyder is that it doesn’t look at all like a typical hybrid. It’s a car that actually looks like it can hit 214 mph no problem. Even though there’s green “e-hybrid” badging and it can sneak up on a crowd of onlookers without making a peep (which it really did), it just doesn’t look like any hybrid you’d ever expect to see. Whether you like the way the 918 looks or not, Porsche has done a great job of making a plug-in hybrid actually look like the supercar it really is. Even amongst a golf course full of 500 Porsches, the 918 Spyder was the first car that really got my attention as I was coming into the event. That not-hybrid-looking body is as functional as it is beautiful, seen here in a gorgeous dark blue metallic. Those decades of racing experience Porsche has to their name influenced the general shape and every small detail to make up its aerodynamic shell. The overall smoothness of the car’s profile can be altered by the retractable spoiler in the back which only extends at high speeds or whenever the car is in race mode. Another noticeable item at the back is the exhaust which is piped out the top of the engine. That isn’t there just so it can pretend to be a Le Mans racer and look cool. Those pipes exit out the top so the exhaust gases can take the quickest way out of the car from the engine and reduce back pressure. But it also does look freakin’ cool.
The lightweight twenty-inch wheels are artistic in their own right. Also, center-lock wheels. Because Porsche.
There really isn’t much else I can say about the Porsche 918 Spyder. You already know it’s freakishly fast, surprisingly efficient, and simply stunning to look at. Seeing it out in the open on a Carmel golf course is how something as artistic as this is meant to be seen (but I’d also accept a racetrack as an answer). This car has a special place in my heart because it’s faster than most cars on the planet but doesn’t go out of its way to look like it. There are slower Lamborghinis which are more flamboyant than the 918 Spyder, which is admirable. It’s a silent superstar, proven by the fact that hardly anyone noticed it leave. [Images © 2014 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian | Additional full-res images available on my Flickr]