This week we complete our preview of the new holy trinity of supercars, following the debuts of competitors McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari, with the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder.

Globally the best known of the trio due to its long lead-up as a design study, concept and prototype over the past three years, the 918 is still picking up steam prior to its release in Q4 this year, finally filling the gap left by the legendary Carrera GT. A plug-in hybrid, the 918 Spyder is powered primarily by a 4.6-liter V8 race engine borrowed from the RS Spyder that produces an impressive 9000 rpm. This gas engine is paired with an electric motor to power the rear-wheel drive with a second electric unit powering the front.

{“pbembedwidget”:“gallery”,“id”:“13754”,“size”:“large”,“alignment”:“left”}The official word from Porsche last year pinned the total combined horsepower of the three motors at around 770 horsepower, but insiders close to the company have recently stated that the 918 production variant will get a boost up into the region of 875 hp, which would bring it closer to the LaFerrari’s 949 hp and the P1’s 903 hp. We anticipate the gearheads over at Top Gear or Motor Trend will cajole the companies into allowing them to stage a full-on dead start with these three as soon as possible.

Behind the wheel of the two-seat, seven-speed PDK (paddles, of course), drivers have the option of five operating modes that maximize the coordination and output of the various driving units:

E-Power: The default mode of the 918 allows the car to travel up to 25 km on electric power, with the combustion hybrid system only kicking in when needed; perhaps an impromptu race on your way back from the corner store.

Hybrid: Probably the mode you’ll find yourself in most often. The three engines work in tandem to produce the best balance of maximum efficiency and minimum fuel consumption. Perfect for a country drive.

Sport Hybrid: When the going gets tough, it’s time to rely on the tried-and-true piston system. The SH mode steps it up a notch with less reliance on the electric motors in dynamic situations and a focus on a sportier driving experience.

Race Hybrid: The electric motors are still hanging in there, but the RH mode is a track demon ready to conquer. The combustion engine is at maximum output, with the electric units stepping in as needed to tackle a stretch or hit that zero to 60 mark of 3.2 seconds. When not at peak performance, the combustion engine helps to recharge the batteries in anticipation of…

Hot Lap: A wet dream for many a Porsche enthusiast. The gloriously powerful Hot Lap mode can only be used once in RH mode and draws out every last drop of power from the three engines for absolute maximum power output and a top speed of almost 200 mph. Now this is what we’re talking about.The exterior of the 918 is gorgeously rendered through its carbon fiber–reinforced plastic monocoque, but funnily enough it’s the tailpipes that really have us going with the Spyder. As opposed to literally any other production car on the market, the 918 features “top pipes” located directly on top of the rear engine bay. It’s badass, and we definitely hope to see it on the final version.

You can look forward to seeing a limited number (we’re assuming 918 per year) starting this fall. The 918 will retail for around $845,000, with a slightly lighter (and faster) Weissach Package going for $929,000.

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