Porsche 918 Spyder: TG’s first impressions
We’re driving the 875bhp hybrid RIGHT NOW. Here are our boggled first thoughts
This is the Porsche 918 Spyder in full production trim. With TopGear at the wheel. Oh yes. The official launch of the 875bhp hyper-hybrid starts today, but we managed to get some sneaky early access for these photographs at Valencia Circuit yesterday and thought we'd fire some initial impressions - and pretty pictures - across to you now.
Check back this time tomorrow for the full review from TopGear's Paul Horrell, but in the meantime, a bit about what the 918 is like on track.
Given the fact it's lapped the Nurburgring in 6 minutes 57 seconds, you'd be right to think it's a wee bit brisk. In fact it's safe to say that it's an utter mind-boggler, reeling up to vast speeds and then shedding them via the mighty, mighty ceramic stoppers. The brakes aren't actually that nice to use, lacking some initial bite and then grabbing hard - probably a corollary of the fact they also perform a regenerative function. A similar criticism can also be levelled at steering feel - the 918's wheel doesn't writhe and tingle with wonderful feedback.
But you always know where you are with the 918 because the chassis set-up is so good. It's accurate and immediate and so incredibly secure and planted on the road. There's no roll, you just pour it into a corner at ever more dizzying speeds, and lean on the throttle ever earlier, letting the instant electric torque initiate the drive out before the 4.6-litre, naturally aspirated 608bhp petrol goes to work for the real top end stuff. And that engine is an utter work of art, the star of the show for me.
The 918 isn't totally benign in the handling department, though. Go into a tight corner a bit hot and the back end will start to spread itself wide, and if, like us, you're trying to conduct a spot of light drifting (the demands of photography, you understand), it's a tricky thing to manage, largely because you're never sure where the power's being sent. It's a timely reminder that the 918 is emphatically not a ‘traditional' hypercar - though the petrol engine feeds the rear wheels, there's an electric motor for each axle too. Better, then, to keep it straight and punch out of the corner as hard as you dare. That's when the 918 Spyder is at its most devastating.
And that's where I'll have to leave it for now. Sorry. If you want to know more, I don't blame you. Tomorrow you'll get it...
Pictures: Lee Brimble