Chris Harris raises the question around the 2:40 mark of his preview of Porsche’s newest supercar.
His basic point is that although the combined 887 hp of the 918′s conventional V8 and electric motors may seem impressive, the car is saddled with the extra weight of the batteries and associated hardware, to the point where it tips the scales at a not-inconsiderable 3,700 lbs. Given the extra poundage, it needs the extra power just to be able to keep up with its British and Italian competition, the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari respectively, and even then finds itself nipping at their heels past the quarter mile posts. With respect to acceleration, the weight of the 918′s hybrid system takes away with its left hand what power it gives with its right.
The obvious solution, then, would be to dispense with the electric motors, leaving the car with “only” 608 hp from its 4.6l V8 and half a ton lighter—a solution Harris proposes during the course of the review. He does get some seat time around a test circuit, and his experience seems to suggest that the torque-vectoring ability of the added hardware might be of use to the chassis for more than just pure acceleration… But, somewhat annoyingly, a factory “chaperone” was along for the ride, and given the in-car audience, Harris’ comments may have been less impartial than they would have been otherwise.
Still, to take a wide-angle view of the new class of hybrid supercars, there’s little doubt the value of the older, purer range-toppers like the McLaren F1 and especially the Ferrari F40 will go through the roof as a kind of backlash against all the new techno-wizardry. That much is certain.