You know you?ve been invited to an exclusive event when you?re asked to sign a confidentiality agreement and surrender your cellphone (and any other photographic devices you might be carrying) as soon as you walk in the door.
But that?s the nature of the beast when you?ve been granted a sneak peak at a car that won?t be on the road for another 18 months or so.
The focus of the tight security and no-photo policy was the Canadian reveal of the Porsche 918 Spyder, the German marque?s latest super sports car. In advance of the car?s official debut (which could happen next fall in Frankfurt), the company is holding several viewings of the car in final design form around the world. The Toronto event was only one of two such viewings to be held in the western hemisphere. The other was in Dallas.
Available in early 2014 as a very limited production model (only 918 will be produced worldwide), the Porsche 918 Spyder will serve as a halo car ? an inspired vehicle for a brand that makes nothing but ? and will come loaded with a slew of advanced technology designed to deliver both high efficiency and performance.
The 918?s efficiency is derived through its gas-electric hybrid platform, which utilizes two electric motors (90 kW unit on the rear axle and an 80 kW variant up front) in concert with a 4.6L V8 engine. The combined power output is an estimated 770 horsepower (about 570 of which will come from the V8) which is capable of propelling the car to 100 km/h in about three seconds. Power is put to the ground via a revised variant of Porsche?s seven-speed PDK (Doppelkupplungsgetriebe) transmission.
Not just for high performance, the 918 Spyder is also designed to achieve a rather non-supercarlike fuel economy rating. Porsche Cars Canada indicated the 918 Spyder is capable of delivering a sparkling 3.0L/100 km.
It is important to note, however, as president Joe Lawrence said, that such miserly consumption cannot be achieved while the car is rocketing to 100 km/h in three seconds. A heavy foot will still use lots of gas, even in a car like this one.
Although it has been developed on the Nurburgring (and testing is ongoing), the 918 Spyder is also designed to be driven on public roads thanks to its five different operating modes which are controlled by a ?map switch? mounted on the steering wheel. Essentially, the switch controls the distribution of power being drawn from the three motors.
The five modes range from the most efficient (E-Power, which utilizes electric power only) to an all-out track setting (Hot Lap, which uses all of the reserve power the car is carrying for a short period of time, for turning those fast laps at the track), that is about pure performance.
The other settings ? Hybrid, Sport Hybrid and Race Hybrid ? gradually shift the balance from efficiency to performance. The gas engine does most of the work to propel the car in Sport Hybrid and Race Hybrid, while a greater balance is achieved between it and the electric motors in Hybrid mode (the setting Porsche believes is appropriate for most day-to-day driving situations).
Because it plays in the very deepest end of the sports car segment and is freed of anything resembling cost containment, the 918 is chock full of exotic details.
Among the more impressive of these is the car?s body, which is made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) for added strength and weight reduction. Active aerodynamics is also standard issue, thanks to an adjustable front diffuser and rear wing.
Perhaps on the most unique feature of the 918?s exterior is the location of the tailpipes. Dubbed ?top pipes? by Porsche, they are at the top of the car?s rear end in order to channel heat away from the engine compartment located directly below. It?s currently the only production car to use such a design.
On the inside, occupants will be held in place by two specially designed leather seats (six-point harnesses will be available) and will be entertained by the thin film transistor (TFT) instrument panel and touch panel centre console, which will work much like a tablet.
As one would expect, an exclusive car comes with an exclusive price ? $845,000 (U.S.).
Despite such a stratospheric price, Lawrence told Wheels that deposits for several Canadian orders have already been received.