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Porsche 918 Spyder claims Ring crown

At the flick of a switch, the 918 Spyder will consume just 3.3 litres per hundred kilometres.

galleryA new king of the ring has been crowned. For a long time, the Nurburgring has been the battleground where car manufacturers go to sort out the best from the rest in a gruelling, hot lap, tyre-smoking speed war. 

And Porsche has just grabbed McLaren and Ferrari by the scruff of the neck and put them on notice, achieving the fastest lap ever recorded in an unmodified production car: 6 minutes and 57 seconds – thrashing 14 seconds off the previous record set by the Gumpert Apollo in 2009.

However, the Porsche reign might be shortlived, with McLaren boss Ron Dennis promising the coming P1 will also post below the seven-minute bar. Game on, then.

To achieve its record, Porsche utilised the full output of the 918 Spyder’s  447kW 4.6-litre V8 petrol engine and two electric motors, driving all 653kW through the standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Porsche also optioned up the car to the “Weissach package” which drops 40kg from its kerb weight.

The German hyper car has been in battle with McLaren’s P1 and Ferrari’s LaFerrari, with all three running petrol engines combined with high powered electric motors, delivering astonishing performance figures.

The Italian and British rivals have eclipsed Porsche’s outright power figures, with 708kW and 673kW on tap respectively. But the German supercar has fought back with 1275Nm torque output, compared to both rival’s 900Nm, attributed to the dual electric motor setup in the Porsche.

All three hyper cars have impressive figures to brag about. Power, outright speed, acceleration and even efficiency figures have all been fired at their opponents, claiming absolute supremacy by the numbers. But until now, the war has never left paper, as the three cars are yet to go head to head. Porsche however, has set the precedent, proving that a new generation of hybrid powered track monsters is here for good. 

The famous 20.6km Nordschleife circuit combines enormous elevation changes, tight and open corners and long straights. It requires both enormous speed and utmost dynamic competence, making a record time around the ring one of the most well respected achievements a sports car can gain.

In 2009, Nissan’s GT-R trumped Porsche’s 911 GT2’s record by completing the lap in 7:29.03, declaring a full-scale war on the German manufacturer’s bragging rights. Since then, Porsche, Ferrari, Nissan, Lexus, Dodge and a myriad of brands have taken their top efforts to Germany to out-gun their opponents.

Both LaFerrari’s and Porsche 918’s predecessors have been beaten by Nissan’s giant killer at the Nurburgring, although partially wet conditions prevented it from out-gunning Porsche’s GT2 RS by a narrow margin. McLaren’s predecessor, the F1, did manage an unofficial time of 7 minutes 11 seconds, safely ahead of the Nissan. Nissan’s top effort relies on a 404kW V6 twin turbo engine to power a similar 1.6 tonne weight to the 918 Spyder at a similar claimed speed, but ultimately lacks the outright power – and price tag – of the three hybrid monsters.

Armed with hybrid performance, Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren should have Nissan off their shoulders to focus on the hybrid war at hand. That is, until Nissan’s next-generation GT-R is launched, widely speculated to feature hybrid technology.

Those who want to accuse Porsche of using hybrid technology for evil, not good, may be interested to know the record-breaking monster is looking to set other standards as well. At the flick of a switch, the 918 Spyder will consume just 3.3 litres per hundred kilometres, with less than 80 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre – undercutting the benchmark hybrid Toyota Prius with its 3.9L/100km and 106gm/km. In fully electric mode, the Porsche will coast along for up to 25km using 12.5-13kW/h per 100km until it needs to be plugged in again.

However, Prius owners may be consoled by the fact the Porsche does cost a bit more, with an expected base price considerably more than the US $845,000 ($909,000). Still … maybe less than the estimated $1.5 million McLaren and Ferrari rivals.

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