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11.8.10


Porsche's 918 hybrid is an impressive machine that promises superlative performance and a price to match — $630,000.

If it's built, that is.

Should the car see production, it will cost a cool €500,000 and just edge out the €460,000 Carrera GT as the most expensive Porsche ever, Automotive News Europe reports, citing "two people with direct knowledge of the plan."

Officially, the über-cool supercar car we first saw at the Geneva Motor Show is nothing more than a tantalizing concept. But Wolfgang Duerheimer, Porsche's development chief, said in April that the company would make a decision on producing the car if 1,000 potential customers show an interest in buying one. So how many hand-raisers have stepped forward?

More than enough.

Those same two unnamed sources, who spoke to ANE on the down low because the info is confidential, say more than 2,000 people have made "non-binding expressions of interest" in the 918. And why wouldn't they? The car promises exceptional performance — along with stellar fuel economy and emissions. (And too our eye, stunning good looks.)

We say "promises" because these figures are from Porsche and, so far as we know, haven't been independently verified. But the mid-engined roadster features a 500-horsepower V8 based upon the 3.4-liter mill found in the Porsche RS Spyder race cars. There's also an electric motor at the front axle and another at the rear; together they put down 218 horsepower.

The drivetrain can be run in one of four modes. "Eco" relies entirely on electricity, and the lithium-ion battery (no size given) is good for 16 miles. "Hybrid" uses both gasoline and electric power in varying combinations as conditions warrant. "Sport" tips the hybrid equation toward serious driving, with most of the power going to the rear wheels. "Race" throws all efficiency to the wind for all-out performance, with the electric motors providing a "push to pass" feature similar to the kinetic energy recovery systems we saw in Formula 1.

Porsche says the 918 will do zero to 100 km/hr in less than 3.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 198 mph. It also claims the car will circle the Nurburgring — the benchmark of performance — in less than 7:30. And it's supposedly good for claimed fuel consumption of 3 liters per 100 kilometers, which works out to 78.4 mpg, and CO2 emissions of just 70 grams per kilometer. It isn't clear how Porsche arrived at those figures, which are surely experienced only when using the lightest touch on the accelerator and maximum assist from electricity.

Officially, there's still no word on when, or if Porsche will build the 918 and what it might cost should it see production. And why, exactly, would Porsche build a hybrid that no more than several hundred people might build? (Porsche built fewer than 1,500 Carrera GT supercars.)

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