How the Porsche 959 and 918 Supercars Became Ultimate Test Beds for Go-Fast Tech


Even the 959’s engine was far more modern than the regular 911’s aircooled engine, featuring watercooled heads and sequential turbos that produced more torque at lower revs to avoid having so much turbo lag. The early 911 Turbo had such brutal turbo lag that it was called the “Widowmaker,” and getting rid of that hard-to-control kick over the years made 911 Turbos so much more accessible to the masses. 

Nowadays, we’re seeing more of the influence of the 918 Spyder across the Porsche model line-up. It was the second plug-in hybrid Porsche ever made. It features some tech from previous supercars, such as a full carbon-fiber monocoque like the Carrera GT and all-wheel-drive that goes all the way back to—you guessed it—the 959. Supercars are a great place to test out new manufacturing processes, so only time will tell if we’ll see more carbon-fiber-bodied Porsches come around. 

One of those innovations is the little drive mode selector on the steering wheel that let the 918 drive in all-electric, hybrid, sport and race modes, all of which determine how the car uses its energy, and in the case of race mode, opens up the rear spoiler and lowers the car. That same dial has spread across the Porsche line from there, even appearing on brand-new, family-hauling Cayennes

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