With esteemed names in the hypercar world, such as Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche, and to some degree Lamborghini, all vowing for the title as the most outlandish, crazy-fast, technologically advanced supercar on the market, we finally have our first bullet fired. It comes from Porsche, just hours after the official unveiling of the 918 Spyder in Frankfurt: claiming the 918 as the fastest production car to ever lap Germany's famed Nürburgring. Porsche's rivals should be a bit worried.
For years now, Porsche has promised the 918 would be the ultimate in performance, yet many thought the plug-in hybrid would likely fall short of the McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari. But achieving a 6 minute, 57 second lap time around the legendary 12.8 mile Nürburgring Nordschleife — demolishing the old record of 7:12 set by a Dodge Viper in 2011 — Porsche has proved that the 918 remains everything it promised.
Generating a total of 887 hp from its 4.6-liter V-8 and its three electric motors, the plug-in hybrid masters the 60 mph sprint in 2.8 seconds, prior to hitting 186 mph in less than 22 seconds. While those figures may seem preposterously high, not to mention its $845,000 price tag, the Porsche 918 comes in with less oomph than its competition. Even the price is a relative bargain compared to the million-dollar plus alternatives.
So achieving a sub-seven minute lap at the Nürburgring is quite the achievement, and lays down a serious marker for the others to match. McLaren have been testing its P1 at the track too, and rumors of lap times range wildly from 6:30 up to over 7 minutes. Until McLaren officially release a time, we simply won't know where it stacks up, while Ferrari has been loathe in the past to use the 'Ring as a measuring stick.
The issue with the 918, at least in my eyes, has always been its hybrid weight. According to Porsche, the 918 will achieve 85 to 95 miles per gallon, and sprint to 62 mph in pure electric mode. While that's all wonderful, the 3,600 lb. curb-weight is far higher than that of McLaren's and Ferrari's, even with the optional 80 lb. lighter Weissach package. You can't help but wonder what the car could do if it ditched the unnecessary plug-in mode and translated that saved mass into more speed. (Of course, adding electric power does help boost acceleration, so there is always a compromise, and Ferrari and McLaren use electricity in the form of a KERS system.)
Regardless, Porsche have proved a point with its lap around the Nürburgring, with factory driver Marc Lieb at the wheel. But the big question is how fast can the others go? For now, I'm sure Porsche feels it's silenced the critics. In the words of Kimi Raikkonen: "Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing."
- Porsche 918