Porsche 918 Spyder review - better than the McLaren P1?
A paragon of technology, but huge fun at the same time
It’s almost impossible to talk about the Porsche 918 Spyder without comparing and contrasting it with the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari, the trio making up the so-called holy trinity of hypercars. The Porsche is sometimes seen as the most understated of the three and it is certainly the cheapest (if you can apply that word to something with a list price of over £600,000), but in many ways it is actually the most impressive.
It has the most useable of the hybrid modes and yet also has the most spine-tingling soundtrack when its naturally aspirated 4.6-litre V8 kicks in. It is also the most conspicuously high quality product, and although it’s the least powerful and heaviest it also has, by some margin, the most torque. In short, we adore the 918 Spyder.
> Performance and 0-60 time - While the spec sheet suggests the McLaren P1 is faster, in the real world, the Porsche's superb traction ensures things are a little closer. Throttle response and the engine's exploitability help the Porsche stand out.
> Engine and gearbox - The combination of a super-fast changing gearbox and racing-esque engine make the high-tech 918 feel like a proper racing car.
> Ride and handling - The 918 is the heaviest of the hypercar trio, but ample traction and the chassis' inherent balance do a good job to hide it.
> Prices, specs and rivals - Cars in this league are hard to describe as bargains, but compared to the P1 and LaFerrari, the 918 offers the most for the money.
> Interior and tech - A wonderful cabin and removable roof make the 918 both a comfortable and exciting place to spend time. Remove the roof to really enjoy the V8's mechanical tone.
> Design - The 918 clearly borrows much of its shape from the Carrera GT. It's less striking than its two main rivals, but it's arguably more handsome for it.
Prices, specs and rivals
A bargain at £781,000 the German hypercar certainly wasn’t. Up against the McLaren P1 (around £866,000) and Ferrari's million-pound-plus LaFerrari, the 918 was outpriced, but certainly not outgunned. Supply and demand though has rendered these RRP’s obsolete, and values for all three cars have skyrocketed since.
A sub £800k 918 was seldom specced. Most ticked the little box (with a big price) for the Weissach Package, taking the total to £853,155. In true Porsche custom, parting with more got you less – at least in terms of weight – a good thing here. The roof, rear wing and windscreen frame were left unpainted to show off the 918's composite construction. Magnesium wheels reduced unsprung weight, while extra aerodynamic flaps increased downforce and a set of six-point seatbelts better secured the driver and passenger in place. The seventy-odd thousand pounds worth of extra kit trimmed three seconds from the Nordschleife laptime, which was reason enough to spend the extra for the buyers seeking outright bragging rights in the Porsche 918 owners club.
Assuming the flagship Porsche and fellow holy trinity members would mark the bleeding edge in automotive realm for years would have been a fair assumption to make. But since their conception, Bugatti’s Chiron has arrived , the 1000bhp/ton Aston Martin-Red Bull 001 has been confirmed and the F1-engined Mercedes-Benz hypercar is on the horizon. The fleeting nature of ultimate performance has been brought into sharp focus.
The comparison metric of price is a peripheral one once you’re knocking on the £1million door – owners of any the holy trinity (normally they proprietors of all three) can likely spare a cool £2.5m (Bugatti) or £3m Aston Martin Valkyrie as well.
The Chiron is a whole BMW M5 more powerful than the 918, producing 1479bhp. Unlike the Veyron, surgically precise but ultimately sterilised, the Chiron divulges genuine feedback and feel to the driver, so solely a high-speed, luxury tool it is not.
The new Aston Martin Valkyrie car will be elevate performance into a new universe. Penned by the hand of Formula 1 aero-wizard Adrian Newey and a powered by a naturally-aspirated V12 engine, the aim is track performance to worry a LMP1 car. The thought of such abilities, exploitable ones at that, crammed into a road car is difficult to comprehend - at the time of the McLaren F1, people thought no supercar would ever get faster, but it's hard to imagine any road car in the future being able to out-lap the new Red Bull road-going racecar.