The Porsche 918’s simplest distinguishing sales advantage compared with rival highest-echelon performance machines is given away by its name: Spyder. You can unclip its two CFRP roof panels easily, stow them in moments in purpose-built slots in the under-bonnet cargo compartment, and enjoy all the refreshing benefits of driving in the open air.
You expect a slightly tricky entry routine to the low seat and you get it because of the shortness of the door aperture, and the need to fold your knees up under your chin before swinging your legs in. Conventional doors make for less kerbside theatre than scissors or ‘wings’, but are a more sensible solution in day-to-day use.
The fascia is dripping in carbon and neatly sectioned off into two zones: a primary one for driver controls grouped around the steering wheel; and a secondary one dominated by the rising ‘black panel’ centre console reminiscent of the one from the Carrera GT. This division brings perfect clarity to the ergonomic layout, but you have to get used to it. The gear selector is not on the transmission tunnel but just behind the right-hand shift paddle. Likewise, the drive mode selector – sited on the tunnel in other Porsches – nestles on the bottom-right quadrant of the steering wheel.
The secondary systems are navigated via two colour information screens: one portrait, at the head of the centre console; and one landscape, recessed into the upper fascia above it. It’s a clever combination because the screens are flexible enough to be configurable. So you can have the sat-nav mapping up top and music tracks down below when cruising long distance, or a power flow meter and a trip computer function on display when out for a blast. Either way, you seldom need to change mode to see the information you need.
The quality and function of systems is top-notch as well. The mapping is typically detailed and clear, and the Bluetooth phone easy to pair up and clear. Despite being a Weissach Pack car, our test example had the Burmester audio, with its 600-watt output and surround-sound functionality. It sounded as potent as you’d expect. But the 599bhp V8 sounds better.
Rich, obvious material quality goes hand in hand with wonderful technical sophistication in here and the effect is more intoxicating than in a P1 or LaFerrari. The 918’s cabin, like so much else about it, appeals as much for what it is as what it does. And given what it does, that’s no mean compliment.